I Will Pray For You
“I will pray for you”. Who hasn’t said these words to a struggling fellow Christian? Knowing that your name and need is brought before God’s throne is medicine for the soul. When someone prays for you, it’s like he places his shoulder under the weight that you are carrying (Gal. 6:2).
The Bible contains many examples of this kind of intercessory prayer. Epaphras prayed that the Colossian believers would not give in to pressure but mature (Col. 4:12,13). Paul asked God to spiritually fortify the church in Ephesus (Eph. 1:18,19). In his high priestly prayer Jesus prayed for his disciples (Joh. 17:9) and for all who would believe in him through their ministry, which includes us (Joh. 17:20). The Church is called to “make supplications for the saints” (Eph. 6:18) and to “pray for one another” (Jam. 5:16). The prophet Samuel phrased it most memorably: “Far be it from me to sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Sam. 12:23).
In case we underestimate the powerful influence of intercession, the last chapter of Job sets us straight. Here, God’s anger burns against Job’s friends. They had not only mistreated his servant Job, they had misrepresented God and this was their greater sin: “You have not spoken of me what is right” (Job 42:7). But no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. If they would bring a burnt offering, forgiveness would be granted (Job 42:8; Lev. 1:1-18).
But there was a part two to the friends' restoration process. Job needed to pray for them, “for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly” (Job 42:8). So, off they went.
Why did God require Job to pray? One hint is found verse 10, “the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, after he had prayed for his friends”. Once again, God tested Job’s faith. God had been gracious to Job, but would Job now turn around and offer that same grace to these guys who had been such a source of grief and frustration? Could Job bless those who cursed him? The answer was yes. Job passed the test with flying colors and the Lord doubled everything he had initially lost in response (Job 42:12,13).
But there is more to this episode. It seems that at this point God would not accept the prayers offered by Job's friends. The Lord said: “My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf” (Job 42:8). Only Job’s prayer would keep God from treating his friends as they deserved.
Apparently, it is possible that our prayers for someone can be the means for them to escape the consequences of bad choices. Of course, we can never know for certain if God’s actions towards people are directly related to our prayers. But just knowing that it can should cause us to pray more frequently and fervently for others. There could be more at stake then we know.