“…[Pray] always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18
This Christmas, I’ve wrapped up a lot of “gifts”—in the form of prayers.
In the past two weeks, I’ve volunteered (and been asked) to pray for close friends, church brethren, and family members facing these serious situations:
A brain tumor. A dangerous situation for a victim of human trafficking in Europe. Breast cancer. Two babies born premature, one still in the hospital. The death of a parent. An unwanted pregnancy. Missionaries under threat of war in the Ukraine. Job loss. A young leukemia patient. COVID illness. And, the tragic devastation of life and homes over the weekend from tornadoes that ravaged our region.
Suffering doesn’t observe a calendar.
As I’ve bowed my head to lift up these needs, I’m struck by two things—one, that my complaints are of so little importance, and two, that prayer is perhaps the most significant gift I will give this Christmas.
For almost all those needs I listed above, there is little to nothing else I can do for those caught in the crosshairs of pain and distress. But prayer isn’t a second-best offering…it’s the best gift, a sacrifice of self-interest in deference to others.
When we ask God to help others instead of just ourselves, it’s called “intercessory” prayer…moments when we ignore our own needs/wishes to ask Him to provide for others.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a preacher in 19th-century London renowned for his spellbinding sermons and timeless devotions, said this about intercessory prayer:
“As an encouragement cheerfully to offer intercessory prayer, remember that such prayer is the sweetest God ever hears,for the prayer of Christ is of this character….the more like our prayer is to Christ’s, the sweeter it will be; thus while petitions for ourselves will be accepted, our pleadings for others, having in them more of the fruits of the Spirit, more love, more faith, more brotherly kindness, will be, through the precious merits of Jesus, the sweetest oblation that we can offer to God…Believer, thou hast a mighty engine in thy hand, use it well, use it constantly, use it with faith, and thou shalt surely be a benefactor to thy brethren. When thou hast the King’s ear, speak to Him for the suffering members of His body….let thy petitions be, not for thyself alone, but for the many who need His aid.”*
Maybe you’re struggling with a huge burden this Christmas—I am praying for you, my reader, as I write this. But I hope that, after you talk with Jesus about your problem, that you will also raise up the needs of others in your sphere. They need your prayers, your encouragement.
After you have prayed, jot a quick note or text to the person for whom you have prayed—like tying a bow on your gift. They will receive hope, love, and peace.
What better present can you give to your loved ones? To your Prince of Peace? There is no greater privilege than to enter His throne room and pour out your heart before Him this season. He is the King of Glory–the One who can fulfill your requests.
Jesus Christ, we come before You with our Christmas wishes—asking You to provide healing, relief, peace, safety, and provision for others in our lives. We lift our petitions to You, knowing that You alone have the power to provide and heal. We specifically pray for _________. Give them and us Your peace as we wait upon You, as we rejoice in Your birth, as we fall down in worship before You. In Your blessed name, Amen.
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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
*Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening (Classic KJV Edition).
P.S. If you’re a mom and want to join a powerful prayer group on behalf of your children, check into “Moms in Prayer”—https://momsinprayer.org. I’ve been part of this organization’s prayer sisterhood for more than a decade, and I can attest to many answers to petitions we’ve lifted up for each other.