How’s your prayer life? No, not just your time of private worship through confession and praise and supplication. How’s your intercessory prayer life?
Sad to say, most of us (myself included) often neglect the ministry of praying for others. Friends and family miss out on blessings, perhaps, because we fail to bring their needs before the throne of God. Not saying that God needs us in order to do His will, but oftentimes He uses us to do things He otherwise would not. Often, He uses our prayers to send blessings and work mightily in people’s lives.
Think of Paul’s plea for his Israelite brothers and sisters: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh… Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Romans 9:2-3, 10:1).
Do we pray like that for our friends and family? Do we find ourselves burdened with great sorrow and unceasing anguish for the state of their souls? Do we even find ourselves empathetic for the trials they might be going through, for the effects of sin upon their daily lives? Do we even think to offer supplications on their behalf?
Here’s an idea for this year: pray over your Christmas cards. As you write and send yours out, pray over them. As you address envelopes, pray right then and there for that family. And as you receive Christmas cards, pray for the people who sent them, who thought enough of your friendship to at least say hi once a year. The least – and perhaps the most – we can do for people at Christmastime is to pray for them. Pray for their general spiritual well-being. Pray for unity within their family and likemindedness with Christ. Pray for anything specific you know is going on with them. Pray for blessings, for growth, for steadfastness in the truth.
You can even carry this out throughout the rest of the year, as you send out birthday cards or other holiday cards, and as people remember you with cards on special occasions. It doesn’t take the place of a regular daily time of intercession, but it’s a start. Or an extra helping, if you already faithfully pray for others.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1).