James 5:16 – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (NIV)
The sound from the next cubicle was heart wrenching — sobbing. Whoever was in there was very upset. Cancer had invaded his body, and being alone and, yes, afraid, he found the dark moments of the night very hard to bear.
I could not help hearing him, as the curtain was very thin — there is no privacy in an emergency ward. I had arrived there by ambulance, having been on the receiving end of a huge truck. Now, I lay there, unable to sleep, the collarbone in my right shoulder broken in four places. I didn't feel like crying; rather I just lay there praying, Lord, get me through this, please. I didn't want to go through life without the use of my right arm. After all, the Lord must know that I was working on another book and had lots of devotionals running through my soul. I needed my right hand!
As I lay and listened to the sobbing, I realized why I wasn't crying too. No, I was talking quietly, talking confidently to my Lord. I was praying through the wee hours of the night. But the guy next to me couldn't have been praying at all, or so I thought. He was crying. Could I pray for him? Yes, the Bible tells us to pray for one another. Surely, this was very true in an emergency ward where everyone was hurting. So, I prayed through the night for both of us.
When morning broke, things looked a little more hopeful with the coming of day. As he was leaving, my neighbour popped around the corner of the curtain and smiled at me. He had a nice smile, but I knew that deep down, his soul and body were hurting. Should I tell him that I had been praying for him through the night? Would I sound rather pretentious, like a goody two shoes?
Today's verse encourages us to pray for one another. Was my night-time praying powerful and effective? Was I a good-enough follower of Jesus to affect another through my prayers?
Well, not to keep you in suspense too long, I told him that I had been praying for him during the night, as I could hear that he was terribly upset. He was obviously touched; indeed, his face broke out in a beautiful smile. He now knew how he got through the night: God was with him. I am still praying for him from time to time.
We should not hesitate, but we do, and I often wonder why. Is it because we don't feel righteous enough, or that our prayers won't be effective? But let's look again at today's verse. When we pray for another, whether by phone or in each other's presence, it is through Christ's salvation that we are sharing prayer. It is Christ's sacrifice that makes our prayers effective, not our words. So let's go for it! Let's humbly pray for each other, relying on Christ's healing power to make our words and compassion effective tools for His grace. Confessing our sins and our need of Christ's salvation, and humbly praying for each other, opens the door to effective praying — God speaking through us.
Today, let's pray for one another. Indeed it is one of the most valuable things we could do all day! Do we each have a prayer partner? Who will we reach out to today?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are not worthy of being called Your servants, but by Your grace, our prayers are effective. As we reach out to those around us with the most wonderful love and healing available, Your presence touches them with divine grace. Thank You, Lord, for opening our souls to the needs of those around us, and enabling us to claim by faith entrance into the most wonderful power ever available as we pray, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
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