How Do I Pray For My Neighbors?
By Alvin J. VanderGriend
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
“Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:16-18).
“Prayer,” said C. Samuel Storms, “in and of itself possesses no power.” I was astounded by that, and I didn’t understand it until I read what Storms said next: “Prayer is powerful because God is powerful, and prayer is the means through which that divine power is released and channeled into our lives” (Reaching God’s Ear, page 223). In other words, all the power in prayer is really God’s power activated by prayer.
When you pray for another person, there is nothing that flows from you to them--no vibes, no force, no energy. Instead, your prayers go heavenward, and the power of God moves from Him to the ones for whom you pray.
When the Bible says, “Prayer is powerful and effective,” it means God acts powerfully and effectively through the prayers of His people. Prayer is the instrument by which God has chosen to have His power directed in the universe. O. Hallesby provides something of a mental picture of how this works: “This power is so rich and so mobile that all we have to do when we pray is to point to the persons or things to which we desire to have this power applied, and He, the Lord of this power, will direct the necessary power to the desired place” (Prayer, page 63). What a surprising arrangement--God partnering with human beings to accomplish His purposes!
R. A. Torrey, enthralled by the enormity of this power, states, “Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is, and...has, is at the disposal of prayer. Prayer can do anything that God can do, and as God can do any thing, prayer is omnipotent” (The Power of Prayer, page 17).
Prayer can do what political action cannot, what education cannot, what military might cannot, and what planning committees cannot. All these are impotent by comparison.
Prayer can move mountains. It can change human hearts, families, neighborhoods, cities and nations. It’s the ultimate source of power, because it is the power of Almighty God.
This power is available to the humblest Christian. It was “a man just like us” who prayed “that it would not rain,” and God stopped the rain in Israel for three and a half years. Where will the power of your prayers be felt today?
* Where do you think God would like some of that power directed through your prayers today?
* What do you think He would like to do in your neighborhood in response to prayer?
Prayer-Starters for Praying James 5:16-18
Praise God for the great power by which He moves in this world and governs the affairs of all people.
Thank God for His willingness to have us direct His power to places and persons through prayer.
Confess if you have failed to make use of the great privilege to advance God’s cause in this world.
Ask God to help you become a powerful and effective “pray-er” in the future.
Pray a BLESSING on those who live or work near you:
Body. Thank God for His generous provision. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He...gives food to every creature. His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1,25).
Labor. Pray that your neighbors may learn to work, doing something useful with their hands so that they “may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28).
Emotional. Pray that God will give them the “perfect peace” that comes from a steadfast mind and a trusting heart (Isaiah 26:3).
Social. Pray that they may be sensitive to the needs of others around them and will have a desire to help and care for them.
Spiritual. Pray that the Holy Spirit, who is sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8), will work powerfully and effectively in the hearts and lives of unsaved people you pray for.
– Used by permission from Developing a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle by Alvin J. Vander Griend. Copyright © 1999.