Every Wednesday night, our church has prayer meeting. We gather, eat a meal together, and then a "prayer list" is distributed. On that list are friends and family who are experiencing difficult circumstances. We also list other items such as "Heifer International" and "Habitat for Humanity" and military personnel and community leaders.
Every week, we pray for those on the list. Some are on the list for a short time. Others have been on the list for weeks or even months. If we are honest with ourselves, it is likely that we have doubts from time to time about the effectiveness of our prayers. Maybe it seems that, sometimes, our prayers hit the ceiling and bounce back unnoticed by God.
However, we read an interesting scripture this past Sunday where Jesus himself was actually praying to God the Father. And what was he praying about? YOU!! Actually, in the original context, he was praying for his early disciples, knowing that he was about to be leaving them to go to the cross. This is part of what he prays to God the Father:
John 17:15 "I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them
from the evil one."
In a previous verse, Jesus acknowledged to God the Father that he had been protecting his followers. But now, since he is leaving, he is asking for God to protect them. Wow! Jesus is praying for protection for his followers. But wait, it gets better...He continues:
John 17:20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in
me through their word..."
And who are "those who will believe in me through their word?" That's right. YOU!! And me. And anyone who has come to believe in Jesus from the time of the early followers until today.
So think about it. Jesus prayed for you and me. Now, don't you think that part of following Jesus is trying to live our lives as He lived? He tells us to follow His commandments. If Jesus thought it was important to pray to God the Father, it would seem that we would take our prayers very seriously.
The next time you pray for someone, why not ponder the realization that you are making a request to God himself on behalf of your friend or family member? Jesus prayed for us and we pray for others. What a privilege we have been given.
Chuck Strong is pastor at Olive Branch Fellowship Church