It had been a really rough week.
Some time ago while at a Bible study, I couldn’t shake the burden weighing me down. I couldn’t push away the stress clouding my thoughts.
But, no one could tell. I was smiling. I was participating. I was playing along.
Eventually, we began sharing prayer requests. Instantly, I began thinking of the people in my life who were going through struggles—my unemployed cousin, my friend who had recently lost a family member, the girl in my hall struggling with her faith. As I was about to ask for prayer for these things, I had a thought.
The leader didn’t ask how my loved ones were doing. She didn’t say, “How can I pray for the people in your life?”
She asked, “How can I pray for you this week? What is going on in your life?”
As I listened to the prayer requests of those around me, I realized that no one said, “This is what I’m struggling with.” No one said, “This is a challenge in my life,” or, “I’m stressed about this.”
Despite the leader’s request for us to share our personal needs, the prayers were focused on the needs and struggles of family members and loved ones.
While praying for those we love is good and beneficial and holy, it’s important that we don’t forget about our own needs in the process.
As a result, we are killing ourselves—maybe not physically, but spiritually.
Every time we refuse to take down our walls, open up to people, and ask for prayer for ourselves, we dig ourselves a little deeper into our graves.
By praying directly for others and by opening ourselves up for others to pray for us specifically, we are participating in a beautiful community of believers. We are partaking in the glorious and fulfilling relationships God has provided for us, all while bringing that glory back to his name.
Why didn’t I want to share that day in Bible study? There are two main reasons I can think of.
For starters, I had put on a mask and didn’t want to take it off. I was pretending that everything was great in my life, and I didn’t want to become vulnerable by removing that mask.
Because I was focusing on the struggles and problems of others, I was taking the attention off myself. I was minimizing my own prayer requests and making myself look better than I actually felt.
The second reason is that, deep down, I didn’t really believe in the power of prayer. I didn’t believe the prayer of others over me could make an ultimate difference. In theory, I said I believed in it. But I didn’t act as though it was changing my life. I didn’t expect big things to happen when people prayed—it was more a routine than anything.
James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Additionally, in the gospel of Mark, the disciples try and fail to drive a demon out of a young boy. Later, they ask Jesus why they were unable to do so. Jesus replies in Mark 9:29, saying, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Jesus knew the power of prayer, in the lives of others (the young boy) and in his own life (played out in the Garden of Gethsemane). The disciples knew the power of prayer. Paul even asks directly for prayer in his letter to the Thessalonian church (2 Thessalonians 3).
In reality, not asking for prayer for ourselves is killing us. The belief that we can’t or shouldn’t share our lives with those around us is robbing us of eternal joy, God-given peace, and true faith in the God who not only listens to our prayers, but answers them.
John 14:14 says, “Yes, ask for anything in my name, and I will do it!”
Prayer is powerful. Prayer is meaningful. And we are starving ourselves of true life on earth by depriving ourselves of prayer from those around us.