My husband, Joe, and I were in our car on the way to do some errands one Saturday, when an aggressive driver suddenly cut my husband off, nearly causing an accident. Joe was furious and began calling the other driver some unflattering names, even though the other car was already out of sight. When I suggested that Joe pray for the other person, he got indignant and said that he had no intention of doing so. I totally understood my husband's attitude, and I silently lifted the other driver up in prayer to the Lord.
The reason why I understood my husband's refusal to pray for that reckless driver is that many years ago, it never occurred to me to pray for someone I didn't know, let alone someone who had offended me, or tried to hurt me. But once I made a quality decision to get serious about my relationship with the Lord, I discovered in His Word that His will is for me to pray for everyone. Scripture says: "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth." (1 Timothy 2:1,3-4 NLT) One reason why the Lord didn't take you and me to heaven as soon as we received Christ as our Savior, and accepted His precious gift of salvation, is that He wants to use us while we are here to impact the lives of countless people that we come in contact with. One way that we can make an eternal difference in someone's life is to pray for them. God wants us to take seriously the promise He made to us in James 5:16 (NIV): "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
The truth is that sometimes, when we are waiting for the Lord to act on our behalf in some way, He is actually waiting on us to pray for those who are involved in our situation. And when we do that, we are "pleasing God," as the above Scripture says, and we are opening the door for Him to work in our circumstances in extraordinary ways. Perhaps you are wondering how you can pray for people that you don't even know. If we use the verses above as a guide, we can "ask God to help them," and we can pray that they would "be saved and understand the truth". The Lord has promised that when we ask Him for anything in line with His will, we can be confident that our prayers will be answered. So we have His assurance that He will honor our prayers on behalf of these people. (1 John 5:14-15)
I believe that sometimes, God allows us to become involved in "sticky" situations simply because He wants us to pray for the people these situations will put us in touch with. If we respond to these challenges in ways that please and honor the Lord, we will receive blessings, rewards, and opportunities that we couldn't receive any other way. These are the times when we can claim and lean heavily upon His promise which says that He will work all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28) And the more we cooperate with His will and purposes for our problems, the more benefits we will reap from them in the end.
When we have troubles of our own and pray for others, it helps to take our focus off of ourselves and our problems, and it shifts our focus to others and their concerns. We may never know how burdened people we pray for might be. Some of them will surely be facing some downright scary circumstances. Some of these folks will have no one to pray for them. Some may be suicidal or self-destructive. And some of them may be on their way to hell. Our prayers may be the only thing that stand between them and certain doom. It's for these reasons that I have made it my business to pray for everyone I come in contact with - in person, through the internet, by telephone, or any other way. I pray for my doctors and their staff members, as well as for their families. I pray for the companies I patronize, along with all their people. When I go shopping, I pray for the stores I visit, as well as for their employees. And when I go to a restaurant, I not only pray for favor for excellent seating and service, but I pray for everyone there, asking the Lord to make Himself real to them in life-changing ways. I'm not talking about praying pitiful prayers for these people. I'm talking about prayers that make a real difference in their lives.
Maybe it never occurred to you that your outcome in a situation could depend upon you praying for the people involved. But since the Bible says that real faith works through love, praying for those you come in contact with in any given situation can activate the power of God to move mountains on your behalf. (Galatians 5:6; Mark 11:22-24) Today, I challenge you to put these powerful biblical principles to work in your life, and to open the door for God to reveal Himself to you - and those you pray for - in life-changing ways!
Prayer: Lord, remind me often that You tell us in Your Word to "pray for all people". Lead me to pray for You to "help them," but most of all, direct me to pray that they will "be saved and understand the truth". Guard me from the bitterness, resentment, and pride that would hinder me from praying for those who hurt or offend me. And remind me that Jesus commands us to bless and pray for our worst enemies. (Matthew 5:43-45; Luke 6:27-28) Thank You that as I exercise my faith by interceding for others, You will reward me with supernatural peace, joy, and blessings of every kind!
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