"Prayer for the Living"
February 5, 2005Email to a FriendPrint
Pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16
In his book “Roughing It” Mark Twain relates his observations during a trip to the Hawaiian Islands. The then-pagan natives, he says, believed they could pray their enemies to death. One needed to kneel down and pray before an article or item belonging to the intended victim, and this would kill him.
In the Bible we find the reverse, namely, people prayed back to life. The prophet Elijah prayed over the widow’s dead son: “O LORD my God let this boy’s life return to him!” (1 Kings 17:21). God heard this prayer and the son lived. In the book of acts we read that the apostle Peter, taken to the upper room where the deceased Dorcas (or Tabitha) lay, “got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up’” (Acts 9:40). And she did. In answer to prayer, God brought this person, who had been a friend to the poor, back to life.
God has not promised that we can raise the dead with our prayers. But He has assured us that our prayers for the living will receive His attention, especially when people are sick or in any kind of need. Saint James writes, “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. …Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him.” He goes on: “The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” (James 5:13-15). God can effect healing as He desires – miraculously or through the means and ministrations of the medical profession.
There was a time when Philip Melanchthon, a Reformation scholar at the Wittenberg University, was deathly sick. Martin Luther prayed for him earnestly, telling God that the church needed this co-worker. A biographer of Melanchthon comes right out and says: “Luther prayed him well.”
We note from the letters of Saint Paul how he prayed frequently and fervently for his readers. Nowhere does it say that he prayed for the dead – always for the living in every circumstance of life. What he urges Timothy to do is what we should do also: “That requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:1). Jesus prayed for His enemies, His disciples, and for those who through the ages would believe in Him through their testimony – believe in Him as having died for them and risen again. We follow in His footsteps when we intercede for others – for the living.
PRAYER: Lord God, guide me to pray for others when they are in need of Your help. Amen.
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