“Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)
Prayer. What is it and how does it work? In fact, does it work? Almost everyone has wondered these things about prayer at one time or another.
Prayer is an incredible gift from God. There is much about prayer that helps us understand the nature of God and the nature of the Christian faith.
First, prayer puts us in a position of significance. When we pray for other people, we stand in that space between the person or persons we are praying for and God. We are granted and accepting the role of priest on their behalf. God has allowed us a role that is powerful and focused on bringing help to someone who needs an ally.
But second, prayer puts us in a position of humility. While we intercede for someone else, we also therefore sit at the feet of God. It is God who made the world and everything in it. It is God who has made us and claimed us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. When we come before God in prayer we are struck by how amazing God is and how humble we truly are.
It is in this tension between power and humility that we discover the meaning of prayer. In praying for others we accept some responsibility toward our neighbors. Their problems are our problems and if we can be helpful, love calls us to do so. But we also recognize that we are not God and that we are dependent on the love and grace of one far more awesome than we can even put into words.
Prayer is an expression of our belief that the God who made us also loves us. It is also an expression of the love that we have been given for one another. We stand in a relationship with God and each other. We share our concerns for each other with the God who is concerned for us all. That is an enormous responsibility! It is also an enormous privilege. And that should bring comfort and hope to all of us.