I sometimes chuckle when, as a part of greeting someone, the words “How are you?” are used. Not so much because I think it is funny, but because the question seems more one of social etiquette than genuine care. Think about the times you used those words and ask yourself, “Did I really want to know?” Chances are you did not, but the question seemed like a good filler at the time.
I think the same thing applies among believers when it comes to prayer. How many times have we committed to praying for someone and promptly forgotten to do so once we put the phone down or the person has left our presence? Did we really mean it? It is a tragedy of our times that we are so often occupied with our own lives that we can hardly make the time to invest in the spiritual well-being of another, especially to pray for them. How many times has someone crossed our minds without our giving any thought to whether or not that person needed to be prayed for at that moment? It could be that the Holy Spirit allowed that intrusion into our thoughts so we could intercede on that person’s behalf.
Praying for each other is an integral part of Christian fellowship. James reminds us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV). The apostle Paul assures Philemon, “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers” (Philemon 4). We need to remember, as someone once said, that “the power of prayer is not the result of the person praying. Rather, the power resides in the God who is being prayed to.” Often, for God to act, He “needs” the cooperation of someone praying a prayer and making that request known (Phil. 4:6; Matt. 7:7-8). He most definitely listens to, answers, and moves in response to prayers.
Jesus spent much time in prayer, at one time praying, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours” (John 17:9). If He found it necessary to pray for the disciples then, and seeing He continues to intercede for us (Romans 8:34), how much more are we to pray for each other? I challenge you to think about this the next time you commit to praying for someone or someone crosses your mind. You and I may be the link to another person’s breakthrough. May God grant us sensitive hearts and the conviction to be obedient to what the Holy Spirit has prompted us to do.