Robin J Johnson
There is little doubt that we all believe in praying for one another. Whether it is intentional and focused or a quick, but nevertheless sincere prayer, followers of Jesus engage in prayer for each other. The apostle Paul concludes his letter to the church in Ephesus by giving instructions on spiritual warfare and in that he alerts us to the need to always pray for each other.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, Ephesians 6:18 (NASB)
Recently I was praying for a close friend who though he would say, “I still trust in God” probably does not pray much for himself, if at all. When we were together he was happy for me to pray for him, which I was willing to do, and I assured him I would keep praying, but I told him that he really needed to pray himself, not just rely on my prayers.
Now apart I still pray for him, but I ask myself, “What do I pray?” I have identified what I think are some things that need to change in my friend’s life, but he needs to make those choices. It is not my place, neither should it be, to pray things that he needs to bring to the Lord for himself. I can pray that he might see the need to make changes, but he has to call on the Lord himself.
Every nation has its unique emergency dial code. I believe in what I call heaven’s emergency number — 333. I need my friend to believe the same.
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV)
So then I ask myself, “Should I continue to pray for him when he doesn’t pray for himself?”
The answer is simple, yes! Most certainly I should continue praying for him. He needs me to ‘stand in the gap’ until he comes to that time and place when he calls out to the Lord for himself.
Who will stand in the gap?
When Israel was backslidden and in sin the Lord sought for someone to ‘stand in the gap’, but sadly no-one was found (Ezekiel 22:29 – 30). It is important that we make ourselves available to be found by the Lord, to be willing to ‘stand in the gap’ for those who are unable to stand for themselves at any given moment in their life. Whether it is sin that keeps them from praying or serious issues and challenges of life heavily weighing them down, they need someone to ‘stand in the gap’.
If anyone observes a fellow believer habitually sinning in a way that doesn’t lead to death, you should keep interceding in prayer that God will give that person life…. 1 John 5:16 (TPT)
I am sure that each one of us has had someone ‘stand in the gap’ for us, even when we were not conscious of the need for prayer or didn’t even know how to pray.
Keep being compassionate to those who still have doubts, Jude 1:22 (TPT)
God is faithful and though we may not see any change or an immediate answer to our prayers, we maintain our trust and faith in our God to work even when it looks impossible.
There is the story told of the evangelist George Muller (1805-1898) who prayed for five friends to come to Christ and over time one by one, several years apart, surrendered to Christ, but one man didn’t until a little while after Muller’s death. For over fifty years he did not give up praying.
Many years back in our church in Christchurch (NZ) we had a lady whose husband was unsaved. One evening at a public gathering of several 100 people with an international speaker, her husband turned up and disrupted the meeting, very aggressively shouting and abusing the speaker and others. He had to be restrained and finally removed. The lady was embarrassed by her husband’s behaviour. There seemed to be little hope for him as he was so aggressive and opposed.
About a week or two later one Sunday evening at the conclusion of the service, I was observing the people who had come forward responding to the salvation appeal. I looked at one man who seemed familiar and I thought that I had seen him somewhere before. Yes, I had. It was the woman’s husband who had interrupted the meeting previously. Praise God, a faithful wife had ‘stood in the gap’ and the fruit was her husband’s salvation.
One day Jesus taught the apostles to keep praying and never stop or lose hope… Luke 18:1 (TPT)
Stay in the gap
The words of a popular song and one of my favourites comes to mind, which says in part…
Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper….
Even when I don’t see it, You’re working
Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working
You never stop, You never stop working
So, not only should we ‘stand in the gap’, we need to ‘stay in the gap’. My grandparents prayed for me over many years. They even talked to me about Jesus, but it was several years after both had passed away that I surrendered to Christ. One day we will be reunited and I will able to say, “Thank you!”
Whether it is parents praying for their children or wives praying for husbands or friends praying for mates, we can all be secure in the knowledge that our God is faithful, He answers prayer.
Since we have this confidence, we can also have great boldness before him, for if we present any request agreeable to his will, he will hear us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we also know that we have obtained the requests we ask of him. 1 John 5:14-15 (TPT)
Standing in for the heroes
There are others too, beyond our close circle who also need us to ‘stand in the gap’ and petition heaven on their behalf. Throughout the world many believers, whether missionaries or national workers, are serving the Lord in dangerous and life threatening situations. These modern day heroes of faith urgently need our prayers. They need us to ‘stand in the gap’.
You can check your own churches missionaries or mission organisation or email us to find someone to pray for.
While the apostle Peter was being held in prison, waiting for his impending execution and sleeping, the church interceded for him and brought about his miraculous escape.
So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. Acts 12:5 (NASB)
One day we are going to meet our Saviour face to face and what a glorious day that will be. However, there will no doubt be other occasions when we will celebrate with great joy. One of those will be the glorious reunions, hearing about and seeing the fruit of prayers prayed while ‘standing in the gap’.
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16 (NASB)
(NASB) New American Standard Bible (TPT) The Passion Translation (NKJV) New King James Version
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