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Many times we feel so helpless. Our loved one is beyond our reach. Someone is desperately sick. A situation seems hopeless. In times like these it is good to know we can always pray. Not only is praying for others our privilege, it is our solemn duty.
Praying for another person helps in many ways, and it helps the person who prays. A man spoke to me one day about a neighbor who had done him a great wrong. Rather defiantly he said, “Don’t preach to me about forgiveness. I can’t forgive him and even if I could, I wouldn’t.” I replied, “I only ask you to do one thing: pray for him.”
When we pray for a loved one who needs help, we nurture a spirit of hope and optimism that becomes important in our own lives. When your child is sick, you feel a great sense of relief when the doctor comes because you know he can do something. And when you lift someone who needs help into the hands of God, you feel peace in your heart knowing God too can do something. Praying for someone else helps you.
When a person is criticized by another, it pushes that person down further. But when he knows there is someone praying for him, that very knowledge is a source of sustaining strength. I know a lot of people who are praying for me, and to each one I am deeply grateful. All of us are helped by knowing someone is praying for us.
When I pray for someone, it inspires me to do what I can to help that person. Quite often the effort of the person praying is enough to answer the prayer. For example, suppose I pray for someone who is sick? It may be that a contributing factor in that sickness is that the sick person is lonely, discouraged, and has lost the will to live. As a result of my praying, I am moved to acts of thoughtfulness and kindness, which may change my friend’s mental attitude, possibly becoming his turning point from illness to health.
Let me explain my method of praying for another person:
- Pray definitely for that one person. Get that person clearly in your mind so that you can see him or her vividly. Decide as specifically as you can the need of that person, considering the circumstances of his or her life.
- Holding that particular person in mind, think of God.
- Think of your prayer as lifting that person into the presence of God. You are not trying to tell God something He does not know. Neither are you trying to persuade God to do something He doesn’t want to do. Realize, as St. Augustine said, “Without God, we cannot; without us, God will not.” Think of yourself as supplying the human cooperation that is necessary to bring the person and God together.
- Tell God what is in your heart. Remember, however, to pray positively. Don’t concentrate on the person’s weakness, sickness, or wrong. Rather, concentrate on the person’s strengths and picture in your mind the answer you want and picture that person receiving that answer. Pray hopefully.
- Keep praying until God’s answer comes.
Picture a person in one room of a house and God in the next room. Between the two there is a wall. But if you stand in the doorway connecting the two rooms, then you can see them both. One could speak to the other through you. It may be that you have contact with someone who needs God’s help. There may be a wall between God and that person. It may be a wall of disbelief, unconcern, or wrong living. But because you have contact both with that person and with God, you become the intermediary between the two and your prayers connect that person’s need with God’s power. This is intercessory prayer.
Pray for one another.
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