I am sure of the fact that not a day passes by without someone asking us to pray for them or us asking others to pray for us. Be it a job interview, sickness, examination etc. the first thing we hear is, “please pray for me”. Or “I am praying for you” I have often asked others to pray for me and others often come to me asking for prayers and the immediate response is always to assure them of my prayers. At the same time I have often asked myself will our prayers be heard when we pray for others. This got me thinking and as usual I tried looking for the answer in the Bible. I wanted to know if there were any references in the bible and I was pleasantly surprised to see the numerous instances where we see prophets, apostles, Mother Mary and even Jesus praying for others and their prayers being heard.
I would like to share with you some of the instances which I came across and which removed the seed of doubt from me.
In Genesis 18:23-33 we see Abraham interceding for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and how Abraham relentlessly intercedes for the people and God turns away from his intention to destroy the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham here does not focus on his problems, his family or his personal intentions but he prays for the people of Sodom.
Moses is also known for interceding on behalf of others throughout his life. In fact, Pharaoh requested that Moses pray for him in Exodus 8:28, so Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away. Plead for me.” Moses had his own anxieties and worries to pray for and I am sure he did pray for the Pharaoh
In Numbers 12:13 we hear Moses crying out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!” He intercedes for Miriam when she is stricken with leprosy as she spoke against Moses. Moses does not hold it against her but goes on to intercede with the Lord and we see several instances in the New Testament as well.
One of the first instance and the one we all often refer to is the miracle at wedding in Cana. We see Mother Mary interceding for the people at wedding and even though it was not time for Jesus to start his ministries we see Him performing the miracle of turning the water into wine.
We see our Lord Jesus himself praying for the apostles and the believers in John 17: 6-26. We also see in another instance Jesus praying for Peter. Jesus prayed for Peter – Luke 22:32 says, “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
What is very interesting to note is that in all the above instances they were praying for the people who are good, family or friends and we do this as well but Jesus showed us that it is not enough that we pray for our family and friends or the good people in our lives but even for our enemies and we see this reference in Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
What is our response when someone has harmed us physically, mentally or emotionally? I have often heard others curse and at times I have cursed people who have hurt us. Our natural and immediate response is to hurt others the way they have hurt us. How many of us can proudly say that I pray for my friends as well as my enemies. Jesus showed us that we can and we need to pray for our enemies as well.
Is it a sin not to pray for people? 1 Samuel 12:23 answers this question, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.
How to Intercede in Prayer
- From the Heart: When you pray for others ensure that it is not just mere action but sincere and honest.
- Regularly: In what is often called the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”. We should pray for our needs and the needs of others every day.
- In detail: God knows everything; but He wants us to come to Him with all our specific requests because He likes to hear from us and to know what is important to us. The Bible compares our prayers to incense, and God loves prayers that are like “sweet incense beaten fine” (Leviticus 16:12).
- With Faith: knowing that God has all power and loves the people we are praying for.
- With love: Godly love is totally unselfish and is the essence of God’s character we pray for others let us do so with love for them and our creator
- Fervently: James 5:16 tells us “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
- With a desire to help where we can: This might include physical help and encouragement. It is not wrong to tell a person you are praying for him or her if it will help encourage the person.
- Occasionally with Fasting: When a situation is very serious or hits close to home for you, you may decide to fast and pray to draw close to God to present your supplication to Him.
In Isiah 65:24 the Lord says, “before they call I will answer” so as you read this article, I only ask this, say a prayer because prayer is one of the best free gifts we give and receive. Absolutely no cost, but a lot of rewards. Let us continue to pray for one another. And do remember to say a prayer for me!