“Prayer is powerful!” If you’ve heard that before, it does come across as vague. Is it powerful like electricity, or like a Hurricane?
The phrase “power of prayer” doesn’t really tell me what to expect.
Revelation 8:1-4 talks about angels and judgment and the prayers of the Saints.
In that passage, prayers are described as incense (or essential oils 🥰) poured into a circular bowl (censer). It has a pleasing fragrance that goes up to God, but it’s also mixed together with God’s wrath and then, the burning incense is poured out to those on the earth.
What? That is a pretty horrific image of how God uses angelic powers and the prayers of His people to bring judgment to earth.
Is God saying that my prayers had that kind of power?
I believe He is saying it and it does! Prayer has the power to bring healing, mercy, peace and judgment. We prefer healing, mercy and peace over judgment, yet God wants to include His people in everything.
This year, in April 2020, God has called me to pray. Sure, I have been praying for years, but this year it’s different. The COVID virus had only begun to affect us in the United States and infection rates and death rates were climbing up—fast.
Since then, I have been filling up my bowl (metaphor intended) with prayers for people.
I bought some 3×5 inch index cards and wrote a persons name on the top line. If the person was married, I put their spouses name next to theirs. On each card I wrote a basic topic for praying for the person or family:
💪 Physical health
😔 Emotional health
🧠 Mental health
😚 Sexual health
If I know of other concerns, I didn’t write specific things just in case someone viewed the card and would see their private information. I also wrote the names of their children or other connected family members.
Having these cards, gave me something to focus on and felt like a tangible way of praying. How I prayed also varied, sometimes I would pray out loud, other times, quietly in my mind.
In July of 2020, I came up with the idea to use a date stamp to help keep me accountable to pray for each person at least once a week. For about $6 at my local Staples, I bought an adjustable date stamp and ink pad and began to stamp the date onto the back of the index cards.
Using a stamp felt like I was living in the 90’s again and it took some practice to align and apply the correct pressure to make the numbers clear.
I started with 10 index cards, then 50 and now, a whole lot. My prayer life changed from asking God for things about myself and the crisis people were going through, to praying blessings regardless of a persons circumstances. Namely, when things weren’t in crisis, yet God was still needed in their situations.
A Warning to Myself and Others
Prayer can have some negative consequences. Talking about a person’s life and situations can become gossip. The more people you pray for, there are many opportunities for pride to creep in with thoughts like, “God healed that person because I prayed for them for thirty weeks, and these were powerful prayers.” I do believe that our prayers do have an incredible spiritual effect, but God is always the one who gets the glory. If I talk to much about it, I might be letting pride into my heart.
Even now, as I’m boasting about what I’m doing, I’m making sure that I’m not being prideful by boasting about how “much” I pray. I’ve even had to practice removing myself from the prayer when I’m too emotionally invested in the person or situation.
Example prayer, “Help this person who is working against me to see how I’m right and they are wrong.”
I admit that it is a struggle, but I always win out (after the initial thoughts). The importance of this kind of praying is that I am standing between God and the person/couple acting as the intercessor, connecting the two parties together through my words and faith.
My prayer has to be totally about them and my faith that the Father is invested into their lives!
Standing on Behalf of Others
Hebrews 7:25 gives us an example of how Jesus stands on behalf of others:
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
Hebrews is presenting Jesus as a High Priest and contrasts His life and the actions of the priests in the Old Testament as they presented sacrifices in exchange for God’s forgiveness.
Jesus wasn’t like those guys because, even though the priests acted on behalf of others, they used the blood of animals.
Those priests used the blood of animals to conceal sin.
Jesus used His own blood, to remove sin.
Now, because Jesus died on the cross and God accepted His sacrifice of blood and flesh, He has an even greater position to act on behalf of others. Why? Because His sacrifice was accepted by the Father and it did the job of opening up opportunity to come to God in a much greater way, by removing sin as a barrier.
Yeah, that’s a completely made up word. Hebrews 7:25 tells us that now, because of all that He’s done, He has the power to save and He lives forever to stand between God and His followers to work out the details. Since Jesus has paid the price for our sins — once —, there isn’t a need for more payment. He has already made that all important intercession for us and now we who believe are saved.
Now that we are saved, Jesus continues to intercede for us with God on our behalf. Jesus is still interceding for us!
Because He stood on our Behalf, we get to stand on others behalf
God has also given us the opportunity to intercede for others. Not for their ability to be saved (Jesus has already set that up), but to ask for things on their behalf and believe that God will do it and give Him the control to do it.
What does this look like or sound like?
Prayer for the unbeliever
“Father, I want to thank You for my friend who hasn’t believed in Your Son, Jesus. I pray that You will show Yourself to this friend and that You will keep him and his family safe. Watch over him and present opportunities for him to hear the truth and believe. You said in Your Word, that “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” So we ask that he would call upon Your Son’s name, Jesus. Amen.”
Prayer for the believer
“Jesus, my friend is really sick with a disease. Please give him and his family the wisdom to understand what their next steps are. Give them the faith to believe in You for his healing and the wisdom to see what You have already provided through medicine. I ask that You would have mercy on him and heal him of all his diseases. In your name we pray, Amen.
These are samples and you should pray in a way that you feel will communicate the situation and desires of your heart to God.
Always pray in faith, believing that God hears you and has an answer for you, even if it’s not the one you expected.
My hope for writing this is that you will find ways that are interesting to you, to stand on behalf of others before God. Be encouraged, God wants you to pray for your family, community, church, schools, city/state government, country and world.