Prayer works. It must do or the Bible wouldn’t be full of commands to pray. Besides, anyone who has been a Christian for any length of time will testify to its effectiveness.
General prayers for people and things are useful, of course. But specific prayers are also very important.
Biblical examples of prayer requests
There are a number of places in Scripture where the author tells his readers to pray for himself or for himself and others.
At times a general request for prayer is made.
In 2 Corinthians 1:11, for example, Paul tells the church in
‘. . . as you help us by your prayer for us. Then many people will give God thanks on our behalf for His grace given to us through the prayers of many.’
And in 1 Thessalonians he instructs the Thessalonians:
‘Brothers, pray for us.’
In other passages specific information is given to the readers about how they should pray.
In Romans 15:30-32 Paul tells the church in
‘30 Now I urge you, brothers, . . . to fight together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and be refreshed in your company.’
In Ephesians 6:18-20 he tells the Ephesians:
‘18 Pray in the Spirit at all times with every prayer and request. And with this in view be alert with great endurance in all your requests for all the saints 19 and for me, that I may be given words when I open my mouth, to make known with boldness the secret of the good news, 20 . . . Pray that I may proclaim it boldly as I should.’
In Colossians 4:2-4 Paul says to the Colossians:
‘2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 At the same time pray for us too, that God would open for us a door for the word, to speak the secret of Christ, for which I am in prison. 4 Pray that I would make it clear in the way I should.’
In 2 Thessalonians 3:1 he says:
‘Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and be glorified, just as it was with you.’
And in Hebrews -19 the author tells his readers:
‘18 Pray for us. . . . 19 And I especially urge you to do this, so that I may be restored to you more quickly.’
Doing the same
Asking people to pray for us and others is surely something that every Christian should be doing as a matter of habit. And we should also be taking on board the prayer requests we hear, so that we can pray in an informed way. We could sum this up by saying that every Christian should be a prayer information hub.
I can’t comment on how well this is put into practice in churches in various parts of the world. However, in the
where I live, not
many Christians seem to do it very much. UK
Perhaps there is not enough belief in the effectiveness of prayer. Or perhaps people are a bit too proud to ask others to help them. Or maybe Western individualism has a bad influence in this area. Whatever the reason, it is a problem.
If we believe that God really does answer prayer, however, we should all be making the effort to frequently share prayer requests, both for ourselves and others. And we should do this without embarrassment or the feeling that anything is out of the ordinary.
Of course, in some highly personal matters we will often want to limit the number of people we ask to those we trust and know well. But in other things, the more Christians who know about our situation and are backing us in prayer, the better.
Some concrete examples
Is something coming up in the next week that is out of the ordinary? Ask people in your church to take it to the Lord in prayer.
Is there something troubling you? Ask some trusted Christian friends to pray.
Have you heard bad news about someone? Put a post on Facebook asking people to pray, or send a group email.
Or why not consider organising a prayer information board in your church, online as well as hard copy, where people can place requests for others to read? Or how about including items for prayer on the sheet of paper containing church information that is commonly given to everyone who comes to a Sunday service?
Sharing prayer requests in this way is normal for Christians. Not to do so is strange and abnormal.
So as to practise what I preach, I would be grateful if those who read this could pray for me that the Christian articles I write will teach truth and not error, and that the people God wants to read them will do so. Thank you.