In his word, God commands believers to pray for one another.
Many people have prayed for me over the years. My Mom and Dad prayed for me. Brothers and sisters have at times laid hands on me and prayed for me. People have texted and emailed me telling me they are praying for me. I pray for others. I pray for my family members to be saved. I pray for our children and grandchildren and every single one of my wife and my descendants.
Praying for one another is part and parcel of the Christian life.
Paul’s Example Of Praying For One Another
Paul told the Ephesians to pray for one another and asked them to pray for him:
…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:18 – 19).
Think about it for a second.
Paul, the great apostle, who led thousands to the Lord, who had been caught up to the third heaven, appealed to his fellow believers to pray for him. He didn’t think he was so strong in the Lord that he didn’t need others to pray for him.
He asked them to strive in prayer to God for him.
He asked them to pray for his safety.
He asked them to pray his service would be acceptable to the saints in Jerusalem.
What humility Paul had! He knew he needed the prayers of others and he asked for them. As I look at these Scriptures I’m freshly motivated to humble myself and seek the prayers of others.
Paul also prayed constantly for others. He told the Colossians that he prayed for them:
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding… (Colossians 1:9).
Paul didn’t assume the Colossian believers would automatically keep growing in their spiritual knowledge and wisdom. He prayed for them.
The Desperate Need To Pray For One Another
Paul’s example demonstrates how incredibly important it is for us to pray for one another.
We desperately need each other. Jesus never intended for us to live the Christian life alone. So often I forget just how much I need others. I need to live my life out with others and I need others to pray for me.
God tells us to lift one another up. We need one another to get through this life. To get through afflictions. To get through temptation.
God tells us to pray for one another. God never tells us to do anything he doesn’t intend to respond to. He would not tell us to pray for one another if he didn’t intend to answer those prayers.
So what does God do when believers pray for one another? Here are a few things:
#1 – When We Pray For One Another, God Answers
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven (Matthew 18:19).
God tells us here that he will answer the prayers of just two believers who pray for “anything” in agreement together. This is absolutely breathtaking. When two believers pray, God will do anything they ask.
Nothing is impossible for God, and he responds in uniquely powerful ways when believers join together to pray.
#2 – When We Pray For One Another, God Heals Us
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit (James 5:13-14)
James tells us that if we’re sick we should ask our pastors to pray for us and anoint us with oil. The result is that God will use those prayers to heal us.
James then tells the whole church to pray for one another. And he assures us that our prayers for one another are powerful, though they may not feel powerful. He says “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
He backs this up by reminding us that Elijah’s prayers were so powerful they stopped rain for 3 years then started it again.
It’s easy to say in response, “But wait, that’s Elijah the prophet.” But James assures us that, “…Elijah was a man with a nature like ours”. In other words, he was just like us, a normal human being. And his prayers had great power. So James says to believe that OUR prayers have great power, even if they don’t feel powerful.
Pray for one another earnestly because there is great power in those prayers.
#3 – When We Pray For Each Other, God Opens Doors For the Gospel
At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison (Colossians 4:3).
Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
Paul knew that there was a direct connection between people praying for him and the effectiveness of his ministry. So he regularly asked people to pray that God would open doors for the gospel.
When we pray for one another, God uses those prayers to soften hearts, to open doors, and to draw people to himself. So pray for the missionaries sponsored by your church. Pray for your children and grandchildren. Pray for your pastors and elders.
God uses those prayers for one another to bring about his kingdom here on earth.
#4 – When We Pray For One Another, God Grows Us
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11).
Paul understood that prayer was instrumental in helping people become more like Jesus. In other words, Paul didn’t simply assume that the Philippians would automatically become more like Jesus. He knew that, in some ways, their spiritual growth was directly connected to his prayers.
So, what’s the best thing you can do if you want someone to be more like Jesus? Pray for them. Pray that God would increase their love and knowledge and discernment. Pray that they would be filled with the fruit of righteousness.
When we pray for one another, God shapes us more into the image of Jesus Christ.
#5 – When We Pray For One Another, God Lifts Our Burdens
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2)
Prayer is one of the most powerful ways to care for each other. When we pray for one another, it allows us to bear the burdens of our brothers and sisters. God doesn’t want us to suffer alone. He has given us brothers and sisters to pray for us.
If you’re struggling in any area, ask someone to pray for you. Don’t try and muscle through it alone. God has given us one another so that we might pray for one another.
#6 – When We Pray For One Another, God Humbles us
As I mentioned earlier, the apostle Paul humbly asked for others to pray for him:
I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf (Romans 15:30).
It is humbling to ask others to pray for us. It is humbling to admit we can’t do it alone. It is humbling to ask for prayer for our children. Humbling to admit we need God’s help at work.
But God promises to bless us when we humble ourselves:
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
When we humble ourselves and ask others to pray for us he will give us grace. When others ask us to pray for them he gives them grace.
#7 – When We Pray For One Another, God helps Us Overcome Sin
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and Goda will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death (1 John 5:16-17).
When we see a brother or sister sin, it’s easy to judge them. We look down on them. We don’t struggle with that, why do they?
Instead of looking down on others we should pray for one another. God answers our prayers for others and helps them overcome their sins. Pray for your brothers and sisters that God will deliver them from temptation and sin.
So Pray and Be Prayed For
God does so much for us when we pray for one another. He gives us boldness. He increases our love for himself and others. He rescues us, heals us, and humbles us. He gives us strength, lifts our burdens and uses us to lift others’ burdens. He spreads the gospel. He answers our prayers.
Let’s pray for our churches and pastors.
Let’s ask God to open doors for the gospel.
Let’s pray for persecuted saints throughout the world.
Pray for those you know struggling with sin.
And remember, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”