“Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name. – 1 Kings 8:41-43 NKJV
Prayer, the prayer life, it is of great importance to me. I know where I am today because of the power of prayer, and I can imagine that many of you feel the same way. However, I feel we are living in a time where prayer is often mocked, attacked, and taken for granted – we ought not treat prayer in such a manner. Job was a man that was at the ash heap crying out, and wishing that he could enjoy the prayer life that we now take for granted. Job wished to have a one on one with the Lord, and wished that if it was not possible he could have a mediator to mediate between he and the Lord. In other words, Job wished he could have what we take for granted today.
Jesus Christ, our Savior, became our propitiation of sin so that we could have that mediator, and that direct line of communication with God. You see, if Jesus died so that you and I could pray, we ought not take prayer for granted. We should pray for ourselves! Our prayer should also include others as well, and that is the focus of my sermon for today – praying for others.
Some doubt the power of prayer. We live in a world in which there is terrorism; driving fear into the hearts of others to even live. There is terrorism that occurs on the other side of the world, and here in America we face domestic terrorism – some people are afraid to admit this. A man walked into a church of parishioners and killed them in their bible study. After these tragic events, we say that we’re going to pray for the people affected by these sad tragedies; do you really pray for them?
People that don’t believe in the power of prayer have began to mock the concept of prayer. Why? Because “prayer does not work”. After these tragedies they will say, “you prayed after that incident and yet there was another incident.” We have a natural disaster like a hurricane, tornado, or flood, and we will say that we’re going to pray for those affected. The same people say, “you prayed after the other hurricane, what did it do?”
I get where those people of coming from. I often wonder to myself, are we really praying for the people affected after these tragedies and disaster? Or are we just getting into saying some rhetoric, and not actually praying for people at all? We, Christians, should be praying for others! This world today certainly needs true and faithful prayer! I don’t care what the doubters say because I know that prayer works!
So, I must ask you today this question: when somebody asks you, “can you pray for me,” what is your response? I believe these are two of the most common responses that we end up giving: “pray for yourself and I got you.” We’re being smart when we tell them to pray for themselves – they should certainly pray for themselves, but the way we’re answering them is not right. We then say, “I got you”, but we end up not praying for them at all – that’s also not right.
We are very selfish in our prayer life; we will pray for me, myself, and I. A great man once told me that there is nothing wrong with praying for yourself but, there is also nothing wrong with praying for somebody else as well! We believe that because we have prayed for mom, dad, sister, brother, our children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, best friends and their family that we have somehow prayed for others. The only thing you have managed to do was pray for the small circle/bubble of people you know!
We have to grow beyond that – we have to learn how to pray for other people. You see, we need to get like King Solomon, who I referenced into today’s key scripture. King Solomon was the king of a people that was very nationalistic, and a people thought/still think that God belongs to them. Yet Solomon had the wisdom to utter, in his prayer of dedicating the temple, a prayer for the stranger in a far away land – in other words a person he did not know! We should take Solomon’s example! How often do you pray for the person that you do not know?
How Jesus prayed for others
Let’s notice who Jesus taught to pray for and who He also prayed for in His prayers. This is important for us to do because Jesus is at the forefront of our faith. We are the sheep and Jesus is the Good Shepherd – we follow Him. Jesus taught (Matthew 5:44) us to do good to those that hate us; He also told us to pray for the one that spitefully uses us. Spiteful: this means with malice or wickedness.
Here are a few questions that I must ask you today. Are you really praying for the one that doesn’t treat you with respect? Do you pray for the one that doesn’t treat you properly and right? Are you really going to pray for the one that can’t be faithful and loyal to you? There are not too many people praying for the person that cheated them, but Jesus teaches us to pray for the one that spitefully uses you!
Let’s then take a look at the Lord’s Prayer – this is Jesus, God in the flesh, praying. In this prayer (Matthew 6:12), Jesus prays forgiveness for the debtors – the ones that do wrongly by us. In an example of prayer, Jesus shows us that in our prayer for others, we should also pray forgiveness for their wrong doings! Again, Jesus praying for the one that would do Him wrongly – we should pray for the one that would do us wrongly.
Another example, and quite possibly the greatest example of prayer, is found in Jesus hanging on the cross. On the cross (Luke 23:34), Jesus prays forgiveness for those that did not know what they were doing. While Jesus was dying on the cross, people gathered and watched Him die. While they watched Jesus die: they spat on him, they cast lots over His garments, and they cursed/mocked Him. They mocked our Savior! They mocked who Jesus was and what Jesus represented, yet, Jesus still prayed for these people!
Do you: pray for those that mock you? Pray for those that mock your desires? Pray for those that mock the things you want to accomplish in this life? How often are you praying for those that doubt what you can do? Are you going to pray for the person that doesn’t believe in you?
We are not praying for people like that nowadays. Pray for a person that probably doesn’t believe in prayer? Pray for a person that you don’t feel is worthy of prayer? We not doing that, are we? Jesus did it. Are we better than Jesus? Jesus set our example and He told us to love our neighbor – this includes the ones that don’t necessarily like you. I can think of no greater way to show love to our neighbors than to pray for them.
The reward of prayer
When you’re asking, “why should I pray for somebody else?” Let’s remember that praying for others is part of the way of Jesus Christ – we are to follow in His way. We are Christians, right? Are we now to good to follow in the way of Jesus Christ? The Christian thing to do is follow in His way.
Jesus teaches us (Matthew 6:14), there is a reward (blessing) when you pray a prayer of forgiveness for others. Jesus tells us that that God will forgive us our trespasses if we pray forgiveness for another’s trespasses. Don’t miss out on forgiveness because you were being too selfish to pray for the man or woman that you did not know or that you “hate” – you ought not hate others in the first place.
The Lord blessed Job twofold but you will notice that this does not occur until after Job prayed for the ones that judged him wrongly, treated him with hostility, and even mocked him. (Job 42:10) tells us: “the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” I believe we have been missing out on blessings from the Lord because we have chosen to be selfish in our prayers! Let’s stop missing out on blessings – let’s get double the blessings!
James says (James 5:15-16), the prayer of faith can save the sick and lift him up! We look around at the world and all we do is complain. We say, “this world is a mess!” We look around at our communities and we do the same thing, we complain. We say, “this community is a mess!” How often you pray for the world? How often do you pray for your community? Instead of praying for just our church, just for a small bubble, we ought to extend our prayer out on to others!
The Apostle Paul teaches us (1 Timothy 2:1-2), to pray for those in authority so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives. How often do you pray for those in authority? Do you pray for your supervisor? Do you pray for the CEO? How often did you pray for Obama? Now, how often do you pray for Trump? We will sit around and complain all day about our job and the government, but we as Christians won’t pray for them! We have got to change, my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I feel that we have missed out on many, many blessings all because we choose not to pray for others. Just praying for your family and friends is not enough. Pray for the stranger – the person you don’t know. Pray for the one that spitefully uses you. Pray for the one that hates you. I know prayers works because the Lord has allowed me to live to become a living testimony to the power of prayer. Let’s increase our prayer life.
Job 42:10 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+42%3A10&version=NKJV
Matthew 5:44 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5%3A44&version=NKJV
Matthew 6:12 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A12&version=NKJV
Matthew 6:14 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A14&version=NKJV
Luke 23:34 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+23%3A34&version=NKJV
1 Timothy 2:1-2 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+1%3A1-2&version=NKJV
James 5:15-16 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+5%3A15-16&version=NKJV