Sunday, October 30, 2016

Why Praying for Our Neighbor Matters

Ephesians 6:18 (NRSV): Praying for Others
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

At the end of the passage describing the well-known armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17), Paul states that the most crucial weapon aligning us with “the Lord and his mighty power” is prayer. But Paul does not mention any run-of-the-mill prayer; he specifically calls us to prayer of “supplication for all the saints.” This means that we need to pray for others, and in that prayer, that spiritual help to which we petition Jesus, we are loving and offering help to others in their struggles.

I read a story once about an hospitalized elderly woman who believed she had nothing left and no reason to continue living. She felt a burden to those around her and couldn’t even use the bathroom without assistance. Her pastor, however, reminded her that she could offer up her suffering and prayers for the good of others. After all, he reminded her, that is what Jesus did during his crucifixion. Offering himself up to the Father, Christ suffered and died for all, even for the people who jeered at, mocked, and pinioned him to the cross. He prayed for them saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24). Although the elderly woman felt helpless, a burden, and destitute, she put on the armor of God and offered supplication for those in need. And in doing that, she gained a new purpose in life -- to serve and love others through the quiet moments of prayer. Her prayers, therefore, made the difference in many lives.

Please join me in prayer:
Loving God,
Please grant that I always remember to pray for others. And help me to remember that in prayer I commune with You while loving my neighbor. Help me, Father, to live an “others-focused” life, knowing that in offering up prayers for the good of my neighbor, I imitate the love of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in this world. Amen.