Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pastors Need All the Prayer We Can Get!

Are You an Easy Prayer Target?
by Cynthia Bezek, editor of Pray!

The other day, a friend told me about two people she has committed to intercede for. Both of her friends are in full-time ministry, and both desire her intercession. One is easy to pray for, she said. The other presents a greater challenge. Why? Because the first one shares openly his needs, weaknesses, and struggles, while the other keeps such things private.

I get the impression that Jesus was easy to pray for. Despite His sinlessness, He did not hide His human weakness from His friends. All the way to Calvary, He told them about the suffering He was to face. And then, in Gethsemane, He said point-blank, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mt. 26:38). Jesus asked His friends to “keep watch” with Him in His hour of greatest need, and they shouldn’t have had any problem knowing how to pray for Him.

Similarly, the Apostle Paul frequently shared his challenges and deep longings in the context of seeking prayer from his friends. He asked for prayer in the midst of struggles with unbelievers (Ro. 15:30-31). After recounting hardship so severe that he and his companions “despaired even of life,” Paul told the Corinthians that he depended on them to help by their prayers (2 Cor. 1:8-11). He mentioned his imprisonment to the Ephesians and asked them to pray that he would have courage to preach fearlessly (Eph. 6:19-20). Referring to jealous persecution, Paul expressed confidence that the Philippians’ prayers, along with the Holy Spirit’s help, would lead to his deliverance (Phil. 1:19). And there’s more: The apostle wrote about his needs and struggles, and requested intercession in Col. 4:3-4, 1 Thess. 5:25, 2 Thess. 3:1-2, and Phlm. 1:22. Paul was not afraid to admit his weakness and dependence on prayer!

We all need prayer. When we’re struggling, we need prayer for increased faith, hope, patience, and purity. But even when things are going well, we need prayer that we will continue to grow in the grace and fruitfulness that come from abiding in Christ, and that we will resist the enemy’s temptations.

If you’re like me, you know you need prayer and want all the intercession you can get. But friends may have a hard time praying for you if they don’t know how to direct their prayers. So ask yourself: Do my friends know my needs? Do they understand my longings and desires? Do I make it easy for people to know how to pray for me? If you’re not sure about your answers to those questions, ask the Lord to help you discover and open up to trustworthy friends who will intercede for you with love and spiritual insight.

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