Recently, an acquaintance spoke of praying for others. The gist of the comment was that she no longer believe God hears her when she prays for herself, but that He hears when she prays for others. My response was this:
And this is precisely why we all pray for others. Sometimes when we are removed from a situation – just a bit – there is some breathing room to listen and pray for the “right” things, not just what is so desperately wanted. When we are not in a fight to breath, it is easier to slow ourselves down and listen for our prayers to be directed and then hear the peace that comes from knowing they will be answered.
Now, I do believe that God is hearing her prayers for herself and her own family. I believe God hears EACH and EVERY prayer that we utter – even the ones that we don’t utter and can only feel. But sometimes, we are so entrenched in our own life situations, that we are not able to clearly hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit when we pray. Sometimes, we are so caught up in the emotions of our lives, that we are unable to sense the peace and the comfort that God is trying to give us. Sometimes, we are so caught up in our misguided attempts to “solve” our own problems, that we don’t hear God whispering “Just trust me, I’ve got it.”
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16 (NIV)
Part of having others pray for us is confessing. We have to be honest about our struggles, temptations and sins. That means being honest with ourselves too. And then, we have to trust that those praying will do as they say they will do. There is something powerful and humbling about asking others to pray for our struggles. There is a power that is released when we pray in the Spirit for the needs of others.
And God does answer. Maybe not how we want (which is often why we don’t hear the answer), but He does answer. I know that when other people have prayed for things that I can’t seem to pray about – or if I do I hear nothing, silence – that my prayer partners have been overwhelmed with a sense of God’s Will, peace and love that will reign. I can’t see the clearing – I’m still lost in the woods. Those that are not in the woods with me are much better able to get God’s picture of where and am, the path out, and the clearing to which I am being led. It’s a beautiful thing.
So, for those that are struggling, or have ever struggled with prayer – I UNDERSTAND. I’ve been there. In some ways I still am. Yet I trust that even though I may not see the clearing, that God has it all planned. I supposed that’s what faith is; “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
When life situations seem impossible, unbearable, without hope, we must cry out. Even though we don’t feel like we’re being heard, we must continue to cry out. God hears. God knows. God understands. God’s got it under control.