Prayer: one of a believer’s most loving actions

God has been wooing us to himself since the beginning. Here’s how The Message puts it:

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son…. It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living (Ephesians 1:4-6, 11).

Wow. He. Just. Loves. Us. Pursuing you, your friends, your neighbors, colleagues, classmates, and relatives.

Just as He is a Shepherd, lovingly pursuing the one lost sheep, we are called to follow in His footsteps and do as He has done, proactively and intentionally seeking out and loving those who are living lives without Him.

Prayer is one of the believer’s best ways to love.

Prayer does change things
John Ortberg reminds us of this incredible truth in his short book Living the God Life:

Usually we think of events on earth being interrupted because of actions taken in heaven. However, in the eighth chapter of the book of Revelation, it is the other way around. All of heaven comes to a standstill. The endless songs and praises of heavenly hosts suddenly stop. Why? Because someone is praying. All of heaven stops so the prayers of the saintsyour prayers and mine, every one of themcan rise before God. They are heard. They matter. Prayers of real human beingslike you and meinterrupt heaven.

Prayer changes things. It pays to haggle with God. You don’t know how many people have been strengthened because you asked God to encourage them. how many people have been healed because you prayed for their bodies; how many spiritual runaways have come home because you prayed for their souls. None of us may ever know the true effects of our prayers this side of death. But we do know this: History belongs to the intercessors.

Prayer bridges gaps
God wants us to be intercessors. Prayer allows us to stand in the gap for others. John DeVries reflects on this in his book on prayer, Why Pray?

The words, spoken with a heavy southern drawl, still ring in my mind. My good friend, Dr. Wilson Benton proclaimed, “We are to be friends in the middle of the night!” That was his interpretation of prayer, based on Luke 11:5-13.

In that passage, Jesus tells us that prayer is like a friend in the middle…. This is a parable about prayer, for it tells of our position in relation to the needs of the world, our inability to meet those needs, and our link to the One who can meet them.

Prayer allows us to access God’s power
DeVries continues by asking a difficult question: Does our inability to meet needs stop us from loving? But then he challenges and directs us by sharing this story about Peter and John:

In Acts 3:1-10, Peter and John looked at a lame beggar straight in the eye; they could look at his need because they knew what to do about it. They knew that in themselves they couldn’t meet the man’s need. But they knew they could take it to God and that the power of Jesus’ name could heal him.

How often do you look away from the family quarreling down the street or the problems of your inner city because you have little confidence in your relationship with the Source of all blessing? We are crippled not by our inability to meet needs but also by our lack of faith that God will meet those needs. And much of the time we don’t bring those needs to him in prayer.

The joy and excitement of being a follower of Christ is found right here: in being able to look at the needs of the world and to know that you have something significant to give toward every single need!

Prayer’s power is right at your fingertips
Access to that “something significant” is wonderfully immediate! In his book Crazy Busy, pastor Kevin DeYoung says this about prayer:

The only work that absolutely must be done in the world is Christ’s work. And Christ’s work is accomplished through Christ’s body. The churchgathered in worship on Sunday and scattered through its members throughout the weekis able to do exponentially more than any of us alone. I can respond to Christ’s call in one or two ways, but I am part of an organism and organization that can respond and serve in a million ways.

I can always pray right now…. We can’t possibly pray for every need in the world…but that doesn’t mean our prayers are limited to what can be written on a 3 x 5 card. If your aunt’s cousin has upcoming heart surgery, pray immediately after you hear about it. When a missionary shares her requests, pray right on the spot for them. Don’t let the moment pass you by. Pray a short prayer. Trust God for the results.

As God’s beloved kids, we are able to be tangible expressions of His great love for others. And the message of love that we can share through prayer will draw people to Him.