Praying for Others
. . . I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him . . . Ephesians 1:16-17
Back in the disastrous consequences of my addiction, I struggled to keep the resulting anxiety under control. My life was an absolute calamity and there was no easy fix. I experienced months of not knowing if I was going to be able to put my family or career back together. There were a lot of days when the uncertainty made it difficult just to get out of bed. During that time, I was also working on my recovery, when I accidentally stumbled on a useful distraction to get me out of my own head.
I began praying every morning for those I knew to be struggling. I prayed for family, friends, and acquaintances. I prayed for those wrestling with addiction, physical illness, anxiety, and depression. I prayed for healing, resolution, and for peace. Most of all, I prayed that those struggling would know God and in knowing him, I prayed they’d find that which they needed most in life. In praying for others, I got my mind out of my self-obsession and began to concern myself with other’s needs instead of my own. It was liberating.
In today’s passage, Paul told the Ephesians that he prayed for them. He asked that God would fill them with his Spirit so that they may grow in their knowledge of him. This is the most important thing in life, and this is the greatest thing that Paul could ask for – that they would know God.
I still whisper this same prayer every morning for those I love and for those I know to be struggling. For those who are ill, I pray for healing. For those who are anxious, I pray for peace. For those struggling with an addiction, I pray for recovery. Most of all though, I simply ask that God would use life’s trials to draw those individuals closer to him. In starting out every day in prayer, I focus less on me and more on others.
I do believe that God listens and that prayer makes a difference. I may never know for sure though if any of my prayers ever changed the lives of those for whom I pray. I do know however, that my prayers have transformed me as I’ve begun to move out of my self-obsession to serve others. If that’s the only thing my years of daily prayer have done, then they’ve been more than worth it.