When we pray for other people, I think we usually pray for those people we think really need prayer. It’s usually those people that we know are going through some hard times, people we know are making poor life choices and getting caught up in sin, or people we know who don’t believe in Jesus. That leaves out a significant group of people in the population of those you know: the mature Christians who have a healthy spiritual life and are not going through any major trials. We don’t get mass emails asking prayer for the guy who is reading his Bible every day and serving his family faithfully in the midst of normal life. We must think that people like this have achieved some kind of higher spiritual plane where they only need prayer if they’re going on some insanely intense mission trip to a headhunting tribe in the Amazon. Regardless of whether we think about it in that much detail, we do tend to think that those kind of Christians don’t really need much prayer because they’re doing so well.
The truth is that these people need the power and love of Jesus just as much as anyone. They too have sinful hearts, a powerful enemy (Satan), and ongoing temptation from the world around them. We may assume that a mature believer doesn’t have much need for prayer, but if he truly is mature, then he’ll easily have five different requests for prayer if you ask him. Why? Because mature believers have a pretty decent understanding of their hearts – the pet sins they struggle with and the idols they worship. That brings up an assignment I’d like us all to participate in. Some time in the next week, find someone you consider to be mature in the Faith and ask that person how you can pray for him/her. Not only will you be blessing this person, but you will, most likely, find that the requests he/she asks for will be prayers you also need to pray for yourself. Some of the most convicting and inspiring moments of my Christian life have come from asking people how I can pray for them and realizing that their request wasn’t even on the radar for my own life.
I’m not saying we need to stop praying for the people in trials, in sin, and in unbelief, I’m just asking us all to add in this other segment of Christianity that I think is too often neglected in our prayers.