As Christians, none of us would question the value of prayer. Yet do we truly understand what it means to pray? Do we use that mighty tool as effectively as possible? Who of us would say that we pray enough?
Prayer is communication with God. That sounds simple, doesnt it? Yet sometimes perhaps we hesitate to pray because we feel we dont really know how to express our needs and burdens to God. But truly we can talk with Him just as we would a friend. While its vital to approach God with respect, for He is holy and the Creator, its also important to remember that He is interested in every facet of our lives.
If prayer is talking to God, then what is intercession? It is making a strong plea before God for another person, even to the point of being willing to pour out our own lives in prayer for his or her spiritual success. Isaiah tells us that the Lord saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor (Isaiah 59:16). As a mother, those words come home to my heart. Am I making proper intercession before God for my children?
For every time of life
In every stage of life our children need prayer. When they are toddlers, the prayer is often for patience, for wisdom on how to shape the life without ruining the person. As they grow, our prayers change, but certainly the need for them is still present or even increased. The temptations and evil that face young people today are stronger than ever. As they reach the age of making their own decisions, we must begin to let go of our control, but we can still pray.
A woman whose children are grown and serving God once told me that she prayed the Lord would make them strong Christians. She said she saw hard things happen to them, but those difficulties were what made them strong. I wondered, Do I have the courage to pray that for my children? Its not pleasant to watch our children suffer, but do I want them to make Heaven? Do I want them to be strong Christians?
Recently a man in our congregation testified that as a young person he had turned away from his Christian heritage, but his mother was praying for him. One day God said to her, I cant get to him because youve prayed a hedge around him. Words like that strike a sword to the soul! That mother had the strength to tell God to do what needed to be done, but to please spare his life. The mans world began to fall apart, until finally in jail he came to himself. Later at an altar of prayer, he found that Gods love was still reaching out to him. Now he is telling others of the way because his mother prayed.
Other answers to prayer come to mind. A retired pastor tells how his two older children left God, and for years seemed far away. He said at times he and his wife never had a hint that God was talking to them. Yet they prevailed and both children are saved today. Time after time, a young man requested prayer that his wife would be saved. Now she sits by his side in services, her face showing the glow of salvation. So, God hears the prayers poured out before Him. They make a difference.
The needs are tremendous
Do our families need prayer? our churches? our countries? All of us would agree they do. But are we praying? Lets purpose to use every possible opportunity. We can pray as we commute, do the laundry, cook, work in the yard, clean the church, or do any number of other chores. Beyond that, we can examine our priorities and see if some of our time could be rescheduled to make more room for prayer. Can we leave some things undone to spend more time with God? Oh, its not easy to write these words, for the Lord makes sure the writer gets the message also. Ive had the Lord speak to my heart, asking if I wouldnt leave some chores I had planned to do so I could pray. I want to be open to such leading and heed the quiet Voice in my soul. So do you, Im sure.
What about when the burdens on our hearts are so heavy it seems we dont know how to form a prayer? Gods Word says, Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26). Comforting words. If we pour out our hearts to God, His Spirit will make the prayers avail.
Do we feel qualified? No. Do we feel adequate? No. But that isnt what God is looking at. What He wants to know is, Are we willing?
Cheryl Paulsen is Corporate Secretary at the Apostolic Faith International Headquarters in Portland, Oregon.