James 5:16 “Pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
Have you ever wondered why God would call you to pray for another person? James 5:16 says “Pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” We have been talking about your walk with the Father and here we shift gears a little as we talk about others while we are interacting with the Father. We should understand that the Father’s unconditional love is focused outward, always seeking our good. So as we grow in His character, we are to be the same and be compassionate toward others in his name. Jesus said in John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.” No Christian is ever called to go it alone in his or her walk of faith. We need one another to grow in our relationships with God. The Lord asks us to intercede for others in order to help us move beyond our concerns to the spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational needs of others. This is not just for their benefit but also so we can grow in His likeness as well.
The Lord wants us to be aware of believers around the world that are actively preaching the gospel in the midst of serious persecution. This was the case with the Thessalonians in Acts 17:1-9. In Paul’s second letter to them he wrote “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the middle of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. . . . To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We should intercede for Christians around the world who are suffering because of their faith. He uses our conversation with Him to knit us together as a spiritual family, to unite our hearts in the purpose of proclaiming salvation through Jesus Christ, and to lead the lost to know God personally. Understanding their bold confidence in the Lord in the midst of oppression give us the courage to persevere in our own times of adversity. As we intercede for them, the Lord makes us aware of their needs and works through us to provide for them (2 Cor. 8; James 2:15-16).
Then God wants us to pray for one another because He wants us to share in the joy that comes when He answers our requests, whether He meets someone’s needs or leads that person to victory in a difficult situation. Our triumphs are sweeter and sorrows more bearable when we have someone to share them with. For this reason Paul says in Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those that weep.” We get comfort from knowing that we are not alone in our trials and we have loved ones to help us bear our burdens just like we would for them (Gal.6:2). And when we see God answering our prayers on behalf of others, our faith grows, we know He will fulfill His promises to us as well.
The last reason the Lord might burden us with concern for another person is to draw us closer to Him. Paul did this for Timothy, his son in the faith in 2 Timothy 1:2-7. Paul understood that the Lord was taking care of Timothy; but his love and concern for the young pastor of the Ephesian church drove him to his knees. As Paul was praying for Timothy to be strengthened, Paul was strengthened and drawn closer to God. In the last few sentences of 2 Timothy, the last letter Paul would ever write, Paul said in 2 Tim. 4:18 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” What a testimony even in the face of death! Remember, anything that motivates us to spend time in the presence of the Father is good. Our intimacy with God, His highest priority for our lives, determines the impact of our lives. Therefore, our concern for others, if lived out in prayer, deepens our dependence on and our relationship with the Father.