As I reflect upon what I pray about, I find they almost always center around my own concerns and interests. It amazes me how endless my needs, wants and wishes seem to be - I hardly remember a time when I have nothing of my own to ask for, even in the better seasons of my life.
I reckon it is selfishness - a form of which no one else will detect, thank goodness, except for the One being who ultimately matters the most.
And so I gave the matter a little more thought, and I share some in this article.
'Minding our own business' is a virtue quite entrenched in modern societies. Yet in the Bible, we learn how Paul expressly prayed for the church and for other Christians (Ro 1:9, 2Co 13:7, Eph 1:16, Php 1:3-4, Col 1:3, 1Th 1:2, 2Ti 1:3, Phm 1:4).
It is easy to dismiss such verses as mere greetings - small talks, so to speak. Very often we skim through them to jump into the chapters' content proper. But hey, isn't every word of the Bible significant? I believe those verses must be a message to us about praying for the church. And for others.
I belong to a cell group. Every now and then, I get SMSses about others needing help or prayer. Depending on what I was in the middle of doing, I either ignored the message, or I conveniently replied 'ok'. If I remembered the message again later on, I would mention the issue briefly in prayer, but not before I was done with my own list of concerns.
The point is that we place little importance and low priority when it comes to other people. We fail to appreciate that by the time they made a prayer request, they could already be quite desperate with their situation. The prayer support could have been needed there and then - not when it is convenient for us later.
On the flip side, we should take care not to offer prayers mindlessly and hastily, to get it over and done with. Compared to rendering physical help, offering monetary support or simply being present, praying is the 'easy way out'. After all, there is nothing to lose by praying, is there?
Well, we should assess our attitudes. Prayers do not cost us anything, but they certainly are not cheap - they are our exchanges with God. Ecc 5:2 "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart, to utter anything before God...... ". Know that God is He who searches the hearts and minds.
But offered in sincerity, God is faithful in answering prayers. Mt 21:22 "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." In the context of praying for others, recall how Jesus healed the paralytic whom others had painstakingly lowered through the roof into a crowded room. Mk 2:5 "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."". It was their faith that brought about his healing.
I quote Mark Hopkins: "Our prayer and God's mercy are like two buckets in a well; while one ascends, the other descends".
Granted that God answers prayers in His time. And I imagine He has his reasons for what appear like delays. One of the reasons could be found in James 1:3-5 "....the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
This means that praying for others could be a long haul process. By and by, the item could fade out of the prayer list again.
So, I made a little change to my prayer plan recently. I thought it may be helpful to dedicate one prayer slot for issues that have nothing to do with myself or my family. Let's see how it turns out.
By: Ianny Lau.
About the Author
Ianny Lau is an engineer-turned-entrepreneur. In an evolving economy today, Ianny encourages and helps others start small in businesses. You can find one such opportunity at http://www.strategytofreedom.com.
Ianny maintains his 'Ianny Loves the Freedom" blog at http://lauianny.wordpress.com. Apart from his thoughts on current affairs, he also shares products.
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