Does Prayer Even Matter?
Recently one of my friends was down and out with a horrible gastro-type flu. We were supposed to have lunch that day, so I got a very short text from her. It read something like this "I've been up since 1:30 am, too sick for lunch" I knew the lack of words meant that she was too miserable to embellish and I felt so bad for her! At that moment, I wished there was something I could do for her. Bringing her food wasn't an option, obviously. I didn't want to go near her for fear of catching her plague 🤪 But I could pray for her, and I did. But I still felt like I should do something more. So I'm wondering to myself...
Does prayer really matter?
And is it enough when we really want to help someone in the moment?
What does God say about praying for others?
In the book of Mark, chapter 1, verse 35, Jesus walked away from His disciples to pray. They went out looking for Him, and when they found Him, Simon and his friends exclaimed: "Jesus, everyone is looking for you!"
When I read this, I can almost feel Simons passive aggressive annoyance. They were in the thick of Jesus' ministry and were super busy. And Jesus had the nerve to walk away, not tell anyone where He was going and pray alone?!?! How DARE He!
But in all seriousness, this passage also reminds us how important prayer is. If even Jesus Himself had to find time alone to pray, it shows us that we can't let the busyness of our lives keep us from getting down on our knees. He had demons to drive out, sick to heal and preaching to do. But first, He stopped and prayed.
The power of prayer
Prayer aligns our hearts with God's and brings us into conversation with the Creator of the Universe. The all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God wants to spend time one on one with YOU! 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to "pray continually", meaning we should always be in a prayerful mind. So when you tell someone you'll pray for them, stop and talk to God about what is going on with that person. Praying continually doesn't mean you have to spend all day in formal prayer, but rather it means that you should remember that God is always there, ready to talk. So remind yourself to go to Him first, always.
How do you pray for someone else?
The short answer to this question is...now. Don't let time pass. When God lays someone on your heart, lift them up in that moment. There is no right or wrong way, just talk to God, let your heart tell Him what He already knows, and let His Spirit work on your behalf!
Everytime you tell someone you'll pray for them, you are doing exactly what Jesus taught us to do...which is to go to God with it FIRST. Ask Him how you can help this person. He might lay some things on your heart that you can physically do for that person, or He might remind you to keep lifting them up in prayer. Either way, praying is not a passive way to help. It is proactive and SUPER HELPFUL to the person in need, even if they don't yet realize it.
Do our prayers really make a difference?
Why do we feel like praying is sometimes the "only" option? Like we wish there was something more we could do?
“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” - 2 Chronicles 87:14
God packs a lot of promises in this statement about prayer. All He asks us to do is pray, seek His face and turn from sin. When we do these things, He promises He will hear from Heaven. And having God tell us directly from His Word that He is listening reminds us all that our prayers DO make a difference, because they are a direct line of communication with God Himself.
Next time you feel like your prayers are "all" you can do to help someone, remember that there is a lot of power in your prayers. You are taking that person and laying them at the very feet of God. And what better thing can you do for a person in need?
Personal Time of Reflection
If you have a journal, pull it out. Start a page in the back that says "Prayer Requests"
- Spend a few minutes asking God to bring to your mind all of the people you passively said you'd pray for this week.
- Write those names and what they need prayer for in bullet points on this page.
- Spend some time in conversation with God on behalf of these people.