When someone is facing adversity in life, some well-meaning sibling in Christ may respond, “I wish I could so something to help – well, at least I can pray for you.” Please, please, please, never say that to me. I absolutely hate, despise, and abhor that response. That response, whether intentional or not, says that prayer really isn’t doing much to help. Au contraire! Pray for me before you do anything else at all. Seriously. If you want to help me, pray for me. Take my name before the Father. Implore the Spirit to take your prayer before the throne of God with groanings which cannot be uttered.
You see, I want you to pray for me, for “the prayer of a righteous person has great power” (Js 5:16). Not a little power, not some power, not hopeful power – “great power.” Power to add fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life. Power to shake the house where the church prayed; power for the early church “to speak the word of God with boldness.” Power for an angel to release Peter from a locked prison. Power to go before the throne of the Creator. Power to ask the One with all power to reach down and help us. Power, power, power!
What specific things do I want you to remember when you pray to the omnipotent God on my behalf?
I want you to pray for my spiritual health.
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (Js 5:14-16)
I believe the sickness James discusses is spiritual, not physical – that fits the context of committing sin and the connection between healing and confession coupled with prayer. Even if I’m wrong in my understanding, my spiritual health is far, far more important than my physical health; I’ve very likely lived at least half of my physical life (if not more), but my spiritual life shall never end. Pray for my soul. Pray for my spiritual life.
I know every person under heaven has spiritual struggles, but those of us with physical disabilities have, I strongly suspect, unique spiritual struggles. If I’m not able to worship with the saints, I’ll not be encouraged and fed like you. If I’m in pain, I’m far more irritable and likely to lash out in anger. If I’m barely able to walk and become discouraged, I may not pray as often as I should. When you pray, don’t forget my spiritual health.
Pray BIG prayers.
When Hezekiah was sick unto death, he prayed, and God sent Isaiah to the righteous king to declare, “Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you” (2 Ki 20:5)
Pray for my complete healing. Yes, my condition is genetic and causes a host of problems. My walking will gradually worsen over the course of my life. The affected part of my brain controls emotion – I struggle with anger and great mood swings. Even impulse control is difficult because of the disorder. (Yet, I cannot use the disorder as an excuse for sin, but it does explain why and how the tempter torments me so easily in certain ways).
But, I have no doubt but that God can heal me. He has healed people in the past, and I know He still has that power. In my case, a cure may come from genetic technology still in its infancy. Healing may come through a great amelioration of my symptoms as a result of surgery or drug therapy. But, God can heal me, if it is in His will to do so.
Pray for my comfort.
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26)
Peace and comfort sometimes feel far away when pain racks my body or movement is tedious and difficult. Pray that God may bless me.
Pray for God’s strength to be upon me.
When Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed, the Lord answered, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10)
Pray that I remember God’s strength on me. Pray that others can see that strength in me. Pray that God is glorified in my life or in my death.
Pray that I can grow to be like Jesus.
“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom 8:28-29)
In context, the “good” for which all things work is the conformation into the image of Jesus. One purpose of adversity is to help me become more and more like Jesus. Pray that I remember that. Pray that I surrender myself to the will of the Almighty God. Pray that I am conformed more and more into the image of His Son.
God answers every prayer – of that I have absolutely no doubt. No, the answer to our prayers may not be what we desire. Jesus prayed earnestly in the Garden that the cup of His crucifixion might pass from Him, yet He still suffered and died on that old rugged cross to sanctify me. Did God really hear Jesus? Yep: “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Heb 5:7). “He was heard because of his reverence.” The Father heard His Son, but He, in His perfect will and sovereignty, rejected His Son’s request. Thus, why do I think God must answer me in the affirmative every time I pray?
One more request. When you pray for me, pray like the Lord Jesus. “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mk 14:36). Never forget to pray for God’s will to be done. Never forget we submit to His will, not the other way around!