Prayer, Underutilized & Undervalued

“And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick. The Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail.” (James 15-16)

Some of us would readily ask others to pray for us, while the rest of us would maybe hope that others do pray for us.

What does it mean to pray for someone? What does it mean to pray for oneself? The responses to these questions have the potential to vary immensely like any other set of questions.

If I’m asked by anyone to pray for him or her, I need to first capture what it is that’s causing such request whether it is a life challenge involving others or a personal one that only concerns the requestor.

And if I am to pray for anyone else without their explicit request, I hold myself to either know or be acquainted with a challenging aspect of that person’s world which would definitely call for prayer.

You can ask almost anybody, especially believers, concerning prayers within the church, and the unanimous conclusion will simply be that the church doesn’t pray as often or as earnestly as before. The reason is simple: ask anyone how he or she is doing, the response will likely be “I’m doing great!” when the truth can largely be so far from such response.

We can be a community that welcomes the sharing of others’ struggles and challenges or we can be one that prefers others’ keep their issues to themselves and not burden us with them. The choice is ours. One factor that may help us at selecting one option over another is whether we thirst for true substantial healing or simply healing on the surface.

True and substantial healing occurs, I believe, when we both offer and receive the privilege of the disclosure of our struggles and challenges equally. And this does NOT equate to “confessing one’s sin to another”, though it may resemble it. And yes, one has to use total discretion when making others aware of their challenges and struggles. They do have to weigh the positive versus the negative beforehand. It has to be a conscious decision. What is important eventually is that the disclosure does take place, and that it is met with prayer and action.

We need to have outlets, confidential outlets, spaces that we can openly share our struggles (those issues which we want to address by choice) and challenges (those issues which are imposed on us for addressing). And the church has a major need to create and maintain those outlets. Otherwise, we will have no authentic engagement in our prayers for one another. We will not know or be able to imagine what it is like to be in another’s pair of shoes.

“Confessing our sins to one another”, that’s the next level. If we cannot reach to someone and simply say “I need help”, there is no way we will consciously admit to them our shortfalls.

In the end, our prayers will mostly be consistent with babbling, and never the acknowledgements of our struggles and challenges which we hold so dear to our hearts.

Prayer is highly dear to my heart. But our generic prayers are often nothing more than mere words that are meant to be pleasing to the ears of hearers. They often lack authenticity, connection and acknowledgement to the purpose of prayer altogether.

We cannot be drawn to pray for one another if our composure toward one another is one that has no need for prayer or one that seems to have it all together. Leaders, for instance, often present themselves as having things under control to mean that the more they maintain such appearance, the more they seem rightly fit for their role. They may feel that their concerns are secondary to others’ and that unless their issues are as similar to their surrounding that it is of no importance to their overall wellness.

There is always this notion that others would not understand if we were to share the things that we are going through. The more we house such notion the tighter the lips of our hearts remain, causing us to be present ourselves only on the surface.

They would not understand? Try again. We’re all humans and suffer alike. Giving the picture that we are fine while we need help and support in one area or another, such only makes matters worst.

If a tightly covered jar need to be open to air out and prevent some bad smell down the road, the human being needs to air out just as much to probe for help and support, to seek prayer and action.

Some ask others to pray for them because they simply cannot gather words intelligibly to express the struggle or challenge they are experiencing or about to experience. When we do not know what to pray for, we ask others to pray for us.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:6)

Wordless groans. Even the wordless groans are heard by God.

But the word-filled prayers have the potential to be heard by humans who are well capable of helping with the issue at hand as God has enabled them.

“But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1 Corinthians 14:19)

Our prayers both in the presence and absence of others are to be just as powerful because God initiates the concerns in our hearts and addresses them by His Power in Christ Jesus whether we fully acknowledge such or not.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

If anyone can envision it, then it is possible. Above all, God can.

If man can imagine it then it’s possible to man. If man can’t imagine it then it’s possible with God.

“Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

If man can imagine it then it’s possible to man. If man can’t imagine it then it’s possible with God.

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived” —
the things God has prepared for those who love him—) (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Anything else that man can imagine, God has also given the power to conceive.

The answers to our problems may be resting in the minds and pockets of those who surround us.

Pray then Act.

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