Selfless Prayer

Throughout the years, I’ve encountered two types of prayer support. I’ll bet you have, too. By far, the most frequent is in the form of a promise: “I’ll pray for you.” We hear it, we say it, and we appreciate it, for it gives us the hope of help. Even if my friend ultimately heaves my plea heavenward as if to jettison the weight of obligation, at least he stands with me, at least she adds her name to my petition, and I am grateful for the promise of prayer.

Yet have you ever experienced the richness of the friend who intercedes for you in real-time? “Let’s just pray about that right here,” she responds; “Let’s stop and pray together now,” he offers. Like the men who lowered the paralytic through the roof, these faithful friends interrupt their lives—if even for a moment—to carry you to Christ. Though the world bustles all around, you step away into an unseen crevice of hidden calm. Two now intercede as one, and both are blessed in His promised presence. And your wobbly legs of doubt and fear are strengthened again to faith and confidence.

Selfless prayer is a gift we pass around, giving it at times and receiving it at others. How can we make it all the more precious and all the more helpful? Pray in faith and do not doubt, for “anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”1 Trust the Holy Spirit, for when we do not know how to pray as we should, “the Spirit intercedes … according to the will of God.”2 And “pray with thanksgiving,”3 celebrating the reality that God is more compassionate than we are, that He is wiser than we are, and that He is more faithful than we are. God is more eager to bless us than we are to receive His blessings, and He is able to do anything. He is good.

Whether we depart our friends with a promise to pray, or we linger with them in the present to pray, God is glorified and we are blessed when we experience the gift of selfless prayer together.

Our Father, thank you for making us one in Christ and for the privilege of coming before you in His name. Grace us to pray selflessly and boundlessly. May our sacrifice of prayer be pleasing in your sight today. In Jesus’ name and by the power of your Spirit, we pray. Amen.

Christ in me is strength.

Read Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matthew 6:5-13.

1 Hebrews 11:5
2 Romans 8:26, 27
3 Philippians 4:6

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