“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16 (NKJV)
Whenever we approach the subject of prayer, we run a very real risk. Let’s face it, fewer things are more familiar to us, as Christians, than prayer. We’re constantly hearing about it, asking for it, and even promising it . . . “I’ll be sure to pray for you about that.”
Prayer is all around us and, in that familiarity, we can become guilty of undervaluing it. Unfortunately, that’s what we tend to do—undervalue what’s readily available to us until we lose it. For example, when we lose power for a prolonged period of time or go without food for a day or two. In the absence of such things, their true value can soon be seen.
Now apply that principle to prayer. Imagine there being no direct link between you and God . . . no way to voice your heart’s hurts, questions, and inner longings to Him. How valuable would prayer seem then? But because prayer is so vital, God has taken the possibility of this scenario off the table. According to His sovereign determination, the avenue of prayer is always open to us in this life.
He wants it this way because He wants prayer to be a defining factor for us. And not just on an individual and personal level, but in a collective and corporate way, too. God wants His followers, the community of believers, to be praying for one another.
That’s what we see James exhorting us towards in the above passage. We are to “pray for one another,” for in doing so, we open the way for God’s healing among us. And just in case we may have missed it, James adds an exclamation mark by reminding us of how much prayer is capable of accomplishing. Simply put, for a community of faith to be healthy it needs to be healed, and in order to be healed it needs to be praying.
Yes, prayer is very familiar to us. It should be because it’s necessary for the body of Christ to be healthy and strong. But in that familiarity, we must never lose sight of how valuable and precious it is. If that happens, then we won’t take advantage of all that God has meant for it to be for us; we won’t be a praying community lifting up one another’s needs.
May that never be said of us. Let’s leverage prayer to the fullest by seizing every opportunity to intercede for one another, because that’s the kind of community we’ve been called to be!
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)
PAUSE: Why do we often undervalue prayer? What place does God want for prayer in the community of believers?
PRACTICE: Who are you praying for? Make a list of people you’d like to pray for this week and commit to praying at least twice for them.
PRAY: Father, I pray that we’d be a praying people. Make us a praying people. Instill in us a passion, desire, and devotion to lifting up the world around us, to daily conversation with You, and to interceding on behalf of our fellow brothers and sisters. Amen.