Think About Others When You Pray
What do you do when you know of someone who is hurting or in some kind of trouble?
You would probably say, “I would try to help him.” But what if you are too far away? What if he needs something you don’t have? What if he has a difficult problem that is beyond your skill or ability to solve? What if you have other duties that prevent you from going to help him?
In those situations, you can pray. Even when you think you can help someone, you should still pray. He or she may have needs that can’t be seen. As you pray, God may show you those needs and speak to you about how you can give help in ways that you had not thought of before.
This lesson explains some of the keys to praying for others. It will help you know what to pray for and how to pray. As you put what you learn into practice, you will be following the examples given in the Bible. You will make the wonderful discovery that God can and will touch others through you.
In this lesson you will study . . . Look at the Needs of Others Pray for Your Family
Pray for Others
Help Meet the Needs
This lesson will help you . . .
- Look at the needs of other people and pray for them with love and
- Cooperate with God to answer your prayers for
LOOK AT THE NEEDS OF OTHERS
Objective 1. Identify with individuals who have needs for which you can pray.
Jesus looked at the people about Him and saw their needs. He felt concern for all those who were suffering. He welcomed the poor, the outcasts, the blind, the lepers. Even while the crowds were listening to His teaching, Jesus knew they were hungry and told His disciples to give them something to eat.
Jesus’ love for people made Him suffer with those who suffered and it will do the same for us. The love of God in us will help us to look through Jesus’ eyes at those who are blinded by sin, victims of Satan, lost, headed for eternal suffering. Such love will drive us to prayer just as it burst out in prayer on the lips of Jesus. He even looked at the need of those who mocked Him as He hung on the cross for their sins and cried out.
Luke 23:34. “Forgive them, Father! They don’t know what they are doing.”
Time and again we read that Jesus was “filled with pity” or “moved with compassion” as He looked at the people’s needs. Compassion means “suffering with, feeling another’s suffering as if it were your own.” This compassion led Jesus to prayer and action. His miracles were to a great extent the result of His compassion, the manifestation of God’s love in meeting people’s needs.
Matthew 14:14. When he saw the large crowd, his heart was filled with pity for them, and he healed their sick.
Some people think only of their problems or interests and don’t see the needs of those around them. Worse still, some people can see the troubles of others without feeling any concern. Many can see accidents, poverty, and tragedy without any pity or sympathy for those who suffer. We should pray that God will make us more sensitive to the problems of the people around us. Then we can help God answer that prayer by looking around us every day and praying for the needs that we see. As we do this, God will pour into us His love for the people we are praying for and we can pray with the compassion of Christ.
This concern for those who have needs, this feeling of compassion, produces the most effective prayers. It brings deep earnestness in what we call intercessory prayer (prayer for others), and produces faith for the answer as we realize how God is concerned over the need.
- Copy in your notebook the needs in the chart that follows Luke 11:9 in Lesson 1. By each one write the name of someone you know who has that
- Think of the needs of every person you meet Write in your notebook the names and needs of any for whom you feel especially concerned.
- Ask God to help you love people and feel their needs as if they were your own. Pray with compassion for the people on your
Objective 2. Describe the importance of praying for members of our family. PRAY FOR YOUR FAMILY
In the Bible we find many examples of men and women praying for their children and other members of their families. Abraham’s prayers saved his nephew Lot from death when the city of Sodom was destroyed. God answered prayer in the choice of a wife for his son, Isaac. Isaac prayed for God to heal his wife Rebecca. She prayed for her children before they were born. Manoah prayed that God would let them know how to bring up their son. Job prayed every day for God to keep his children from sinning or to forgive them when they sinned. Parents took their babies to the temple and dedicated them to God. Mothers took their children to Jesus for His blessing and also for healing.
Throughout the Bible we see that God wants the whole family to serve Him together and enjoy His blessing on their home. So, if any members of your family have not yet accepted Christ as their Savior, your most important prayer for them is their salvation. Here is a wonderful Bible verse that tells us what we may expect if we believe:
Acts 16:31. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your family.”
This is a good verse to memorize and quote when we pray for salvation of any of our family. This strengthens our faith as we remind ourselves that God wants the whole family to believe and be saved. By faith we can claim their salvation.
Prayer + Patience+ Love + Obedience = Results
Our love for our families should make us patient and kind with them even when they strongly oppose the gospel. Of course Satan does not want our family and friends to be saved. Sometimes the more we pray for them, the more they seem to rebel against the things of God. It is very important that we: 1) keep on praying and praising God in faith for the answer, 2) be patient, 3) show them that we love them, and 4) obey the Lord as He shows us how to witness to them or pray with them.
In the exercise above underline any prayers that you have made for any member of your family.
Place an X after any that you plan to talk to God about now.
- In your notebook list one below the other the names of your family and relatives. Ask God to help you recognize and feel their As He helps you see them, write the needs beside the name of each one, then pray for them each day. As God answers your prayers, write the date when the need was met. If you have no family or relatives, you may want to do this for some other family or friends.
- Memorize Acts 16:31 and quote it as you pray for the salvation of any of your family (or for the family of any Christian friends).
PRAY FOR OTHERS
Objective 3. Describe how we should pray for others.
What a privilege we have in working with God to help others through prayer! People everywhere need encouragement and help. We pray for our family, friends, and neighbors. What about the school teacher, church leaders, government officials? They need God’s help. We pray for our nation and for others, for all those who suffer, for those who need Christ, for new converts, and God’s people everywhere. All have problems too big for them. But God is concerned about every human need and has a solution for every problem. We work as His partners by sharing His concern, taking people’s needs to Him, listening to His instructions, then doing what He tells us to do. His Word shows us how to pray for others.
- Timothy 2:1-4. First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, requests, and thanksgivings be offered to God for all people; for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceful life with all reverence toward God and with proper This is good and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth.
Matthew 5:44. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Jeremiah 37:3. “Pray to the Lord our God on behalf of our nation.”
Psalm 122:6. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
Jeremiah 42:3. “Pray that the Lord our God will show us the way we should go and what we should do.”
- Thessalonians 3:1-2. Our brothers, pray for us that the Lord’s message may continue to spread rapidly and be received with honor, just as it was among you. Pray also that God will rescue us from wicked and evil people; for not everyone believes the
James 5:13-16. Is anyone among you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? He should sing praises. Is there anyone who is sick? He should send for the church elders, who will pray for him and rub olive oil on him in the name of the Lord. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick person; the Lord will restore him to health, and the sins he has committed will be forgiven. So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.
The oil mentioned here had no power to heal but it represented the Holy Spirit who would do the work. In Bible times oil was placed on a person’s head when dedicating him to God and His service. Prayer for healing included confession of faults and dedication to God. Many people today tell how God has healed them of even incurable diseases as they obeyed God’s instructions in James 5:13-16.
Let us pray this prayer together now:
Our heavenly Father, we love You because You are worthy of our worship and love. You are the all powerful God, Creator of all things, here with us now and inviting us to pray.
You see all of our faults and our failures. We confess them to you. We ask You to forgive us and to help us do what You want us to do. We do thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins. We thank you for making us Your children. And so we come to You with joy, Lord, to be partners with You in prayer for others.
We ask You to bless our families and meet each person’s need. Please show us how we can help each one. Some of them need Your salvation. Help us tell them about You and show them Your love in all we do and say.
We pray for the leaders of our nation and of other nations. Give them wisdom. Help them to know and serve You. Bring Your peace to the world. Provide food for the hungry, health for the sick, and freedom for those who are oppressed.
We pray for our friends and fellow Christians, for our pastors and churches. We pray for Your people and Your work in every land that Your kingdom may come and Your will may be done in earth as it is in heaven. Help us to do our part that this may be so. We ask in Jesus’ name and for Your glory. Amen.
- Read carefully again the Bible verses in this part of the lesson, asking God to show you any area that you may have neglected in your prayers. Write in your notebook whatever He tells you to do about it.
- Now I suggest you pray the prayer on the preceding page Make each part definite instead of general: “I love you . . . my faults (name them) . . . my family (name them and pray for their special needs).” Name the leaders you are praying for. Mention any specific problems, the special areas of need. And thank God for the privilege of helping through prayer.
HELP MEET THE NEEDS
Objective 4. Explain the role we have in meeting others’ needs.
God sets many forces into motion in order to answer prayer and meet human needs. First, He helps us see a need and shares with us His concern about it. Then He shows us how to pray about it and gives us faith for the answer. He lets us know what He wants us to do and helps us to do it, so that we will have the blessing of working with Him as partners. Besides that, He works in other people, in circumstances, and in supernatural ways to do what would be humanly impossible. He even sends His angels to work out His will and answer our prayers.
Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5,000 shows us one way we can help Him answer prayer. He prayed over a boy’s lunch, multiplied it, and put it in the hands of the disciples to share it with the crowd. The boy could have eaten it. The disciples could have eaten it. But because they gave it to others the miracle took place. As they shared, God multiplied it until everyone had plenty to eat and twelve baskets full were left over! We too must do more than pray for the needs of those who are hungry—either for natural bread or for the Bread of life. God will bless us and supply all of our needs too as we pray and share with others. Jesus said:
Luke 6:38. “Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands—all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.”
The whole book of Nehemiah is an inspiring personal testimony of how God works in the person who prays, in others, and in circumstances to answer prayer. Nehemiah, in exile in Babylon, had a good position as a trusted servant of the emperor. But he was concerned for the needs of others, especially those of his countrymen who had returned to Jerusalem. When his brother brought him news of all the trouble there, Nehemiah cried.
Nehemiah 1:4. For several days I mourned and did not eat. I prayed to God.
Nehemiah prayed about the walls that needed to be rebuilt to protect the people from their enemies, and God put in his heart a plan to do something about the need. Nehemiah felt so concerned that the emperor noticed it and asked why he was sad. Nehemiah was afraid because no one was supposed to look sad in the presence of the emperor. He could be punished or lose his position or even his life for displeasing the emperor. But Nehemiah sent a quick, silent prayer up to God and took the opportunity to speak to the emperor about the needs of his country. Nehemiah had prayed, “Give me success today and make the emperor merciful to me.” God did exactly that. Instead of being displeased, the emperor discussed the problem with Nehemiah, asking him what he wanted.
Nehemiah 2:4-6. I prayed to the God of Heaven, and then I said to the emperor, “If Your Majesty is pleased with me and is willing to grant my request, let me go to the land of Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I can rebuild the city.” The emperor, with the empress sitting at his side, approved my request.
What a thrill! The emperor becomes a partner in Nehemiah’s project as God answers prayer. He gives Nehemiah a leave of absence, authorization, supplies, and a military escort to protect him.
God helped Nehemiah time after time in answer to prayer. What problems he faced! But he was able to overcome them all. He rebuilt the walls and served as governor in Jerusalem. Nehemiah gives his secret of success in the words, “Because God is with me.” We might also say that great things were accomplished through his prayers because he was willing to be a partner with God in answering them.
- Nehemiah is a good example of praying for others because he
- had a good position and influence in the
- made specific requests and was ready to
- trusted the emperor as an enemy of