Jesus encourages us to pray for ourselves. He also encourages us to pray for others. So he teaches us to pray, not my Father but our Father; not give me today my daily bread but give us today our daily bread.
Praying for Others
it is hard to know how to pray for others particularly when their stories
are very sad or their problems big. On such occasions, it can be helpful
simple to recognize that, when we pray, God is with us. Aware of his presence,
we can hold into his loving arms the person or the people we are concerned
about in the same way as we might hold into a mother's arms her crying
child recognizing that she knows how best to look after her own baby.
Sometimes it helps to talk to God about the people we want to pray for. When we use words, it is very important that we do not waste time by describing the problem to God. He already knows what the problem is and what the person needs. When we pray with or without words, we should remember that Jesus is praying for that person too. He always stands at the throne of grace interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25). We therefore need to find out what he is praying for this person and echo that prayer. Any other prayer will be a waste of time and breath. Sometimes, instead of giving us words to pray, God gives us the gift of tears and we find ourselves coming into his presence and weeping ----- for individuals, families or national tragedies. We need to recognize these tears for what they are ---- a gift from God to help us to pray effectively. We also need to remember that God can translate these tears so there is no need for us to find words to go with them.
The same is true of another strange form of prayer. Paul calls it groaning:
'The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray
, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
The Father understands this language just as well as the words we pray.
The Holy Spirit sometimes helps us in another way --- by giving us the gift of tongues. Tongues is a spiritual language -- not the language which our mother taught us when we were a child, but a special language given to us by God which only he understands. It is a powerful language as a brave missionary called Jackie Pullinger once discovered. God gave to Jackie a love for the drug addicts and prostitutes of Hong Kong. So she went to live in the part of the city where they lives. At first everything seemed very strange and she wondered how she could ever begin to tell these people about Jesus. One day God reminded her of the gift of tongues, so she would walk around the city every day praying in this spiritual language. This is how she described what she found:
'I learned that praying in tongues was to help people when they did not know how to pray or had run out of words. Desperate by this time to see evidence of God's power in action I began to pray privately in tongues for the dying in the Walled City. After about six weeks I noticed a difference ..... Extraordinary things began to happen. A gangster fell to his knees in the streets, acknowledging Jesus and weeding. Another, who had been badly beaten up, was miraculously healed..... Praying in tongues was making me more sensitive to what the Holy Spirit was doing. Soon I lost count of the number of changed lives around me.
And there is another way of praying for others. It is the prayer a blind man once used when he heard the footsteps of Jesus coming his way. He cried out in a loud voice:
Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' (Mark 10:46)
Christians in the Middle East and in other countries have found that this prayer is very powerful. We can pray it for ourselves: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me' or we can pray it for other
people: ' Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on my mother, have mercy on my country.' This prayer is so simple that, like praying in tongues, we can pray it while we are working, looking a meal with a friend or with the family.
So prayer is not only talking to God, trusting God, being loved, found and silent before him, it also involves asking him we need to remember that nothing is too small to bring to him, and nothing is too big.
As the Angel Gabriel said to Mary:
'Nothing is impossible with God.'
Jackie Pullinger: Crack in the Wall. Hadder and Stoughton 1989,p.28.