I found this little gem recently when I was reading through Hebrews:
Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.
– Hebrews 13:18-19 (ESV)
I like that. It’s black and white. Clear. The writer of Hebrews (scholars debate who this was) wanted to visit the church, and he told them that if they prayed earnestly for him, the visit would happen sooner.
I know that people say, “Prayer changes me,” and I’m glad for that. No doubt I’ve been changed by prayer and if you are a Christian, you have been changed too. But it’s not really why I pray. Well, I should qualify that – sometimes it’s why I pray. You know, sometimes I pray that I would grow in the fruit of the Spirit, that I would be conformed to the image of Christ, etc. But I think when people say, “Prayer changes me,” they mean that when they’re asking God to move in someone’s heart or change a situation, He actually changes them as they pray. And of course, that’s true.
But what really fires me up about prayer is that if I ask for something, God answers. I’m glad to be changed by prayer, but I am even gladder when the world around me changes. There is a cause and effect nature to prayer.
Prayer makes things happen, and sometimes…makes things happen sooner. The Hebrew Christians were told that if they prayed, the world would change – their leader would be able to get to them sooner. The more earnestly they prayed, the sooner the visit would happen.
Application? “Pray…more earnestly…”
…that your friend’s heart would change toward the gospel.
…that money would flow freely toward a Kingdom initiative.
…that you would be strengthened for a difficult conversation.
…for help with final exams….and on and on.
Prayer is work.
Prayer is the work.