A great joy and wonder to me at this summit time of my life is to realize that my friends have helped through their prayers to bring about the purposes of God in my life. I think one of the joys of heaven will be to finally see what prayer has actually wrought. Even our distracted, imperfect, and weak prayers by God’s grace have drawn down His power to bring guidance, encouragement, healing, endurance, and deliverance from evil.
I, in turn, spend much of my summit meeting time praying for others. When friends ask me to pray for them, I try to respond right away so that I won't forget. It is easy to promise but difficult to follow through seriously and consistently. There aren't enough hours in the day if I were to depend on verbal prayer alone for all the people, situations, and urgent needs that I have promised to remember, or that the Holy Spirit reminds me about.
There are many ways of praying, of course, and many expressions of devotional life. I have discovered through years of experience that when I pray, I don’t have to do a lot of talking aloud formally to the Lord explaining, informing, pleading, or even suggesting how God should answer my prayers. Certainly I don’t presume to always know the will of God. I simply need to acknowledge God’s real and loving presence and wait before Him in silence to adore Him, focus on Him, and keep the ears of my heart open to listen while His Holy Spirit does the talking.
The entire Trinity is active in our prayers. God is the One who answers prayers. Jesus is the one Mediator, the continual Intercessor in heaven on our behalf. He paid the ultimate price so we could boldly approach God in His Name. And when we “…don’t know how to pray as we should…,” (Romans 8:26-28) the Holy Spirit with groanings, apparently without the need for any words, delivers our prayers to God.
The place of the Holy Spirit in our prayer life is vital. When I simply mention a person's name or his need audibly, mentally, or in my spirit, the Holy Spirit runs front, as it were, to bring that request to Father God in the Name of Jesus. Since the Holy Spirit already knows the will of God, I can be sure God will answer. When or where or how God answers should not be my concern. All that I need to do is lift up the person or need to the Lord and ask for His will to be done in that situation.
It was enough for Mary, the mother of Jesus, to inform Him that there was a need during the wedding at Cana. She simply stated, “They have no wine.” She didn’t tell Him what to do about it, how, or when. Nevertheless she anticipated that He would act and she set the stage.
When the sisters at Bethany sent a message to Jesus about their dying brother, they didn’t request or demand a specific action from Him. They also simply stated the fact: “He whom You love is sick.” They didn’t say “He [Lazarus] who loves You is sick,” or “We love You, so You should hurry and help us.” They focused on Jesus’ love for Lazarus. Therefore, when I bring someone’s need to God, I am doing so in the light of Jesus’ love for him or her. I don’t try to arm wrestle the Son of God into doing something my way—or the person’s way for whom I am praying.
Since I’m not the one responsible to answer the prayers, I shouldn't feel overwhelmed, weak, or helpless when I pray. Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I have a lot of prayer help available; there are many intercessors crowding into my “prayer closet” with me. I believe that I have assistance in prayer from the "cloud of witnesses" who are cheering me on and praying for me in heaven—the saints and those of my friends and family who died in the friendship of Christ. All of these make my prayer burden lighter.
Jesus taught us to agree in prayer with our fellow Christians so that both our faith and our prayers are strengthened. However, I fail to find anything in Scripture that says it must always take a lot of people praying with some kind of “class action intercession” to break down what we mistakenly perceive as God’s reluctance to answer our prayers. God is neither deaf nor impotent nor does He need to be begged or pleaded with in order to be good to His dear children. "God's ear is not heavy that He cannot hear, nor His hand shortened that it cannot save...." Only one person praying with or for me is enough. (James 5:16) Or only our solitary prayers. Even if no one at all knows about our need, Jesus Himself "ever lives to make intercession for us."
I can be certain that God always answers prayer (1 John 5:14, 15) but not necessarily in the same way every time. Sometimes it is a loving but firm no, because God knows that what I am asking wouldn't be good for me or glorify Him. I may be ignorant of the consequences or too selfish in my asking. Sometime it is a conditional yes, but I must wait until His perfect time. The right circumstances may not be in place yet. Sometimes the answer is no because He wants to substitute something much better. Sometimes it's an immediate, unconditional yes! God smiles and says, "I thought you would never ask!" and His generous, abundant answer arrives "heaped up, pressed down, shaken together, and running over." All the above are answers to prayer. Jesus told us to be sure to ask but then to leave the answer up to Him.
What a privilege to pray for my friends and their personal concerns and also beyond the horizon to the needs of the Church and the world as they are brought to my attention in various ways! What an opportunity God gives me to cooperate with Him to build His Kingdom and help bring about His will on earth as it is done in Heaven!