You Are Not Alone- Four Ways to Be Devoted in Prayer
We’ve been talking about the benefit of having relationships with women with similar lives and ministries—to follow Jesus and help others do the same. Today we’ll look at another aspect of that – prayer. Imagine for a moment that someone just came to tell you about a particular problem that she has in her life. Maybe it’s personal, a sin she’s struggling to overcome or depression she just can’t shake. Perhaps it’s a complex situation that she’s not sure how to navigate – someone else has sinned against her or has a great need she cannot meet. What’s the most powerful response that you could give?
I can think of a few gracious options. You could listen well and sympathize with her situation. The Lord did this time and time again, and Paul instructs us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” You could verbally process with her, giving her any experience or wisdom her might have, like we see in several epistles.
Prayer is actually our most powerful response – by far.
What if, in addition to these options, you added, “I will pray for you”? Would this seem like the most powerful response you could give? Sometimes, I think, it can sound cliché or annoying. In relationships, “I’ll pray for you” can be a pass-card when you’re unwilling to engage. But that’s only when we don’t understand prayer rightly. In contrast to this, prayer is actually our most powerful response – by far.
Let me explain. Here’s what you can’t do for your friend. You can’t say, “I’ll give you the strength to overcome that sin.” You can’t shake her depression for her. You can’t enable the people who hurt her to repent. You want to, because you love her. But you are powerless.
But when you pray for her…well, now you are asking the One who loves her most to do what he has the power to do – act in her life to transform her and others. In the context of bearing fruit, Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5).Then he added, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jn. 15:7). This is the promise that provides everything we need to actually help someone else.
Here are four ways to consider entering into another’s life in prayer.
1. Ask your friends how you can pray for them. Specifically, what do they want God to do? Remind them of God’s promises as you talk, not just about what’s hard, but what God can do. This puts the focus on the Savior and sets you free from feeling like you need to fix the problems yourself. It connects both of you to the One who can act on your behalf and has promised to do so.
2. Pray together right then and there. This can be awkward. Embrace it. It’s worth it when you think about what you’re actually doing. When we pray together, we come to the very throne of God. Because we are in Christ, he welcomes us as daughters. He bends his ear to our cries and moves to answer.
3. Remember to pray and keep praying. This is what you’ll do if you actually expect the Lord to answer. God is not a genie, granting wishes at our command. Instead, he’s telling his redemptive story in each of our lives. This means that he’s going to take time to answer. It also means that the story is moving forward, even when it seems to us like nothing is happening. In the process of waiting, faith and perseverance grow.
4. Follow up. Praying for someone is an act of devoted love. Our love for each other imitates God’s love for us. He is patient with us. He never leaves us. He doesn’t get frustrated with us or give up halfway through. As Paul write, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:7-8). When you are able to say to your friend, “I have been praying for you.” she will know that you have not forsaken her. This, in turn, will remind her that neither has her faithful Father.
Sisters, this is what we need as we labor in ministry to others. Not paltry platitudes for each other, but the powerful response of believing prayer that perseveres to the end. Let’s persist together today, for someday we will see the glorious end of the Story, a tapestry of answered prayers.