We cannot escape the responsibility we have to pray for one another.
On a daily basis, I receive prayer requests, my list seems never-ending and at times a challenge to 'manage'. To complicate matters for me, I have never been a 'daily devotions' person. While I applaud readings such as Our Daily Bread or other devotional materials and often encourage their use, in my spiritual development I have found a more informal approach has served me well. I like to read large portions of Scripture at a time and often find myself meditating on particular portions of what I read. I do use a prayer list and seek to have a daily time of prayer, but I have also found those moments when I am just talking to the Lord to be times of rich fellowship with my God and a meaningful way to engage in prayer for others.
Several years ago I read The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence; it revolutionized by approach to prayer. Brother Lawrence, struggled with set times of prayer but found his informal times of just talking to God as he served in the kitchen to be most meaningful to him. My set times are an important discipline, as I work through a prayer list that includes my family, friends, our church family and ministry colleagues and partners, but so too are those moments throughout the day when I just share what's on my heart and mind with God. In this, I have often been able to incorporate the prayers requests I receive from you and from our mission partners.
I always look forward to reading the updates and emails from our partners and often they will include times of prayer. To honor their ask for prayer, I will often pray as I read their updates or a specific email. And very often I will respond, 'I have taken this matter to our Lord'. I also find it encouraging when the Spirit of God brings these matters to mind and prompts me to pray again or to follow up on those things for which I have been praying. This dynamic strengthens the bond we have in Christ, the partnership we have with our missionaries.
I think of the number of times over the past years when a note has come in from Asher or Don or Mike or Ken or the Baker's or Unger's or Duncan's; times when I have read with great interest what is happening in their lives and I have taken the opportunity to pray for them. There have been seasons when these friends have faced enormous challenges as they work in a sometimes hostile environment. It is both a responsibility and a joy to pray for their protection, for God's gracious provision, for a breakthrough or for strength to endure. I have known the joy of praying for these servants of our Lord and the blessing of knowing they are praying for me. I have seen God respond in answer to prayer and have had my own faith strengthened in those moments of simply whispering 'thank you, Father'.
In this season of our lives, as we recognize we may not have the physical strength and energy to do all that we once did, we can still pray for and encourage one another. One of the greatest joys we will know as we walk by faith is in doing just that, praying for the people we care about, cheering them on and sharing in the blessing of answered prayer.
Therefore, my friends at Valley...pray for each other. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16) And take the time to let them know you are praying for them. A simple, 'I'm praying for you today', just might be that which gives them the courage to go on, to move forward with a renewed sense of strength and hope and joy. Remember, we never know when or how God may break through in answer to our prayers, but we do know He is faithful and good!