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“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”—James 5:16 (NIV)
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”—Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.”—1 Timothy 2:1 (NIV)
“I’ll pray for you.” We hear this short sentence often in Christian circles—and most of the time, it’s a meaningless quip and we walk away and forget to pray. Why do we say we’ll pray and then don’t? Why do people ask to be prayed for to begin with? Why is it important for Christians to pray together? Community propels the Church toward prayer, and prayer is an essential spiritual discipline of the Christian faith.
Prayer is simply a conversation with God, just like a conversation you have with any other person. James 5:16, Ephesians 6:18, and 1 Timothy 2:1 all use the same Greek word for prayer: deēsis. It means “a seeking, asking, entreating, entreaty to God or to man. Imploring God’s aid in some manner.” So, inherent in this Greek word is the understanding that man is dependent upon God. God is the source of all and the giver and sustainer of life. He implores His children to ask, and He gives generously to His people what they need. He promises that in asking, seeking, and knocking, that we will find (Matthew 7:7–8)!
In these passages from James, Ephesians, and 1 Timothy, we see different types of prayer: 1) There are prayers offered for one another that bring healing, both physically and spiritually, 2) there are intercessory prayers that are made on behalf of one another, 3) there are prayers called petitions or supplications, which are simply requests; asking or seeking after something, and 4) there are prayers of gratitude, which reorient our hearts towards thankfulness and appreciation. Together, the Church offers all of these types of prayers, which brings unity.
How do we pray? We can pray individually and corporately. Some prayers, like confession and healing, are meant to be done with others. Jesus models this in the Lord’s prayer when He begins by saying “Our Father” instead of “My Father.” We ought to pray continually and with thankfulness. We pray in the Spirit, meaning with His help. We listen and respond to what the Holy Spirit is bringing to our minds.
And fervent prayer is the most effective. Unlike that short, disingenuous response to someone’s prayer request, our prayers ought to change our hearts. Author David Guzik says it this way, “Effective prayer must be fervent, not because we must emotionally persuade a reluctant God, but because we must gain God’s heart by being fervent for the things He is fervent for.”
Paul asks for prayer from his brothers and sisters because he realizes the power and effectiveness of it (1 Thessalonians 5:25). He can’t do it alone, and neither can we. Prayer changes things, and prayer changes us. Let us practice praying together!
Pause: Reflect on your prayers. Are they centered around you and your needs? How might you incorporate prayer requests from others into your prayers?
Practice: Next time you tell someone you’ll pray for them, stop and do so right away!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to earth to die for my sins and allowing me to live with a right relationship with the Father. Thank You for modeling prayer. Give me eyes to see how to pray with and for others. Fill me with Your Spirit to change my heart and align my desires to Yours. Thank You for all of the ways You’ve answered prayer before and will answer again! In Jesus name. Amen.
Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.