When it comes to prayer, all types of people pray for all types of things. Many make requests for good health. Some lift up missionaries and ministers. Most everyone prays for themselves and their families at some point in their lives. The Bible teaches that we should spend time praying for others (see 1 Timothy 2:1). I remember learning of this practice as a new believer. During my college years, I lived with my grandfather. Each morning, he would lead me in a morning devotion. We read a couple passages of Scripture and an entry from a popular devotional book. Afterwards, we would spend a few moments praying for the activities of the day. We would also talk about and pray for people who had various needs.
From my grandfather, I learned to pray for others. As I grew as a Christian, Scripture continually taught me the same lesson. From the pages of the Bible, I learned that there are several reasons we should engage in this task. Let’s consider five.
Jesus taught us to pray for others.
When Jesus gave a model for daily supplication, He said, “Therefore, you should pray like this…forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:9-12). While many make prayer a strictly individualized affair, Jesus taught that we should include an others-oriented agenda. If the Lord gave us such instruction, shouldn’t we obey it?
Jesus prayed for others.
Knowing that much more is caught than taught, Jesus didn’t just tell His disciples to pray for others. He modeled it as well. In front of them, He prayed, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me” (John 17:20-21). If the Savior of the world prayed for you and me, shouldn’t we do the same for others?
The early church prayed for others.
Shortly before being crucified, Jesus instructed His inner-circle to diligently pray for power from the Holy Spirit (see Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4). When the growing group faced persecution because of their proclamation, they got on their knees (see Acts 4:1-30). As a result of their prayers, “the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness” (Acts 4:31). If the early church had such a practice, shouldn’t we?
Some things don’t happen apart from prayer.
Often times, we can’t handle difficult people and situations with our own intuition and ability. We need God’s help. On these occasions, prayer is the only thing that can make things better. Jesus’ disciples had to learn this the hard way (see Matthew 17:14-21).
Praying for others brings blessing into our lives.
When we pray with an eye on others, we open ourselves up to experience great joy. The Bible character Job could testify to this reality. When he made requests on behalf of his friends, he encountered blessings from God (see Job 42:10). If intercession can bring such joy into your life, why wouldn’t you do it?