Prayer Makes a Difference
by Gil Rugh
We sometimes need to be reminded how important prayer is. The writer of Hebrews believed that people praying for him would make a difference and wrote:
And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner (Heb. 13:19).
James also believed prayer makes a difference:
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James 5:16).
The Apostle Paul continually asked people to pray for him. It is easy for us to get caught up with life and forget how important it is to pray. We forget that if we are not praying, things will not be happening. In his letter to Philemon, Paul wrote:
At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you (Philemon 1:22).
Paul believed that if Philemon and others prayed, God would answer and send Paul to them.
Sometimes prayer is hard work. If we pray only when we feel like it, we will probably have a very limited prayer life. Paul wrote of striving in prayer.
Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me (Rom. 15:30).
Paul asked his brethren to join with him in the struggle and become his partners in the battle he was in. As they prayed for him, they became an integral part of his ministry. They went through the struggles and battles with Paul as they upheld him in prayer. Paul asked them to pray:
That I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints (Rom. 15:31).
Paul asked for deliverance from those trying to hinder his ministry and that his ministry on behalf of Jerusalem, particularly the offering, would be acceptable.
Although Paul is a great example of faithful service to God, I wonder how many now share in the rewards for his ministry because they diligently prayed for him. The visible, focal point of ministry was on the Apostle Paul, but what God was doing through his life was partly in answer to the prayers of the saints.
When we stand in the presence of Jesus Christ for the rewards to be given, we may find that while many were not visibly part of a ministry, much of the ministry’s effectiveness depended on those who were not seen, but were praying.
It is easy to lose sight of the importance of praying for others. I am a visible figure in the ministry God called me to, but God is using those who diligently pray for this local work to accomplish His will and bring effectiveness to the ministry.
Paul wrote about the experience he had undergone in Asia—sufferings, trials, and burdens to the point of thinking he was about to lose his life. Despite these difficulties he wrote:
[He] who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many (2 Cor. 1:10, 11).
Paul believed that because people prayed, he would be delivered for more ministry and that would cause more people to praise God.
A key element of prayer is found in Ephesians 6:18: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.”
As we submit our lives to the Spirit of God, He takes control of us and our desires. As we pray under the control of the Spirit, we pray according to the will of God. The Spirit will move us to ask God for what He is determined to do, that He might answer our prayers and do it.
Knowing the power of prayer, Paul continued, “Be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).
What a privilege God has given us in prayer. We must not lose hope and we must never give up because prayer makes a difference.