Sinful humans are not a very prayerful bunch. Even the most godly of Christians would admit that they don’t pray as much or as well as they should.
Previously in this series of articles on the benefits of suffering, I’ve mentioned that our pain drives us to pray personally.
But it is important to remember that your suffering doesn’t just lead you to personally pray for deliverance, it also encourages others who care about you to pray.
The Bible regularly commands and gives example of God’s people praying for one another.
For example, the Apostle Paul speaks about his sufferings and how his pain led the Corinthian church to pray for him: ‘We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many’ (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).
Not only would the Corinthians pray for Paul’s deliverance from deadly peril, but Paul was confident that when he was delivered they would offer prayers of thanks as well.
Another example from the early church is when Peter was arrested by King Herod. We read: ‘It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him’ (Acts 12:1-5). When your dear friend is likely to die, you call a prayer meeting!
And it makes sense. When you’re at a loss to know how to help someone who is in trouble, we naturally turn to prayer.
Thus suffering gets the people of God to bend their knees in prayer – not only for themselves but for others.
We often pray at our church prayer meeting that more Christians would see the importance of prayer and come to the meeting. I fear that one of the only ways that God may bring about such an answer to our prayers is by increasing the collective suffering of Christians in Australia. Maybe one of the reasons God permits the increasing hostility of the secular culture towards Christians is to teach his people to pray more, privately and publicly.
So do you pray when someone you love is suffering? Do you need God to bring more suffering into the lives of those you love so you will pray more? Is that a scary thought?