What Christians Do — PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER

In James 5:13-18, there is instruction about prayer. James writes about praying when we suffer, praying when we are sick, and praying when we sin. In that context, he instructs the saints to “pray for one another” (5:16). That is not asking too much, is it? One of the apostle Paul’s most simple appeals was, “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25).

When we read the epistles penned by Paul, we see that he had the practice of praying for his brothers and sisters in the Lord. Here is a sample of what he said about that to various local churches: Romans 1:9 – “. . . without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.”
Philippians 1:4 – “always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy.”
Colossians 1:3 – “We give thanks . . . praying always for you.”
1 Thessalonians 1:2 – “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.”
1 Thessalonians 3:10 – “night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face . . .”

Paul was a busy, busy man. His services were in big demand. In his life, though, he made time to pray. And, in his prayers he frequently prayed for his brethren. You and I need to do the same . . . not simply because it is a command, but because we want to do it and because the prayers of righteous people avail much (James 5:16). God’s church is His family (1 Timothy 3:15). Those of us who are in that wonderful family comprise “the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17). We are people who care about one another and come before the throne of God to pray for one another, just like Paul did.

If we decide to pray for one another, what are some matters about which we can pray? Let us consider some Bible examples and instructions.

Jesus prayed for you and me. He did? Yes, He prayed for our unity, that we would be one in Him and the Father (John 17:20-23).

Paul requested the Roman brethren to pray for him regarding four specific items: “. . . in prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem maybe acceptable to the saints, that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you” (Romans 15:30-32).

Paul appealed to the Christians in Thessalonica: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified . . . and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men . . .” (2 Thessalonians 3:1,2).

In regard to evangelism, Paul asked the disciples in Colosse to pray for him: “. . . praying also for us,

that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). To another local church in Asia, he wrote, “Praying . . . for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18,19). Let us take those sentiments to heart and pray for evangelists and other soul-winners to have open doors and boldness to teach God’s word when those openings come!

What about when Paul prayed for others (instead of the other way around)? Paul told the Philippians that he prayed for them: (1) that their love may abound more and more, (2) that they may approve the things that are excellent, (3) and that they be filled with the fruits of righteousness (Philippians 1:9-11).

Paul informed the church in Colosse that he did not cease to pray for them. When he prayed for them, he prayed that they (1) be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, (2) walk worth of the Lord, (3) be fruitful in every good work, and (4) be strengthened with all might (Colossians 1:9-11).

Paul was convinced that the prayers of others would result in him (Paul) being released from prison and being able to travel to Philemon (Philemon 1:22). Praying for each other is a great thing to do! It helps the praying avoid being self- centered, and it lifts the spirits of those who learn that others pray for them.

In the prayer topics that we have mentioned above from the New Testament, some of them pertain to physical matters. That would include praying for one another’s health and safety. But, when we carefully read the biblical record about prayer requests and prayers offered, we see that when the first-century brethren prayed for one another, there was a huge emphasis given to spiritual matters. They prayed for one another’s evangelistic efforts and spiritual growth. May we develop a heart that does the same!

Pray for your congregation’s leaders. Pray for the young parents. Pray for the kids, the youth, and the aging members. Thank God for the great works that are being done. Pray for the wavering; pray for those who are steadfast, too. Pray that we all will stand strong. Let us never cease to pray for each another.

— Roger D. Campbell