If you think asking for prayer is a sign of weakness, you might want to think again! Asking for prayer is one of the smartest things you could ever do-and one of the best ways to keep you strong.
The Apostle Paul knew this secret and often called on others to pray for him, as he did near the end of his letter to the Romans. Paul said:
“I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed” (Romans 15:30-32).
Paul asked for prayer with boldness. He urged the Romans to pray for him, “by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit.” And he didn’t just ask for a blanket prayer to cover him in all ways at all times. He asked them to pray for him specifically, particularly in those areas where he struggled most. He asked that he would be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, that his service in Jerusalem would be acceptable to the saints there, and that he would be able to come to them in Rome with joy and together with them be refreshed.
These struggles were real, as the dangers that faced Paul on his trip to Jerusalem-and then on to Rome-were significant. If you read about this trip in the book of Acts (chapters 21-28), you’ll see that Paul was captured, imprisoned, and threatened with death on several occasions, not counting the shipwreck that obliterated his ship along the way. Paul needed prayer, and I have no doubt that the prayers of the Christians in Rome helped to sustain him all along the way.
But it’s not easy to ask others to pray for you. I know. Just last week I was celebrating my 23rd wedding anniversary in New York City with my superb wife, Lana. We had an awesome time, filled with fun, romance and a wonderful walk through Central Park. But on the last day of the trip, I got sick-and not just a little sick, but a violent, wrenching sickness like I haven’t experienced in a long time.
At one point, Lana asked if she should call a few people and ask them to pray for me. I said, “No, I’ll be all right.” I hoped it would just pass quickly, and I didn’t want to worry anyone, as they knew we were on our anniversary trip together. But as the hours passed, and I was just getting worse and not better, I finally agreed and Lana made a few calls.
Although the sickness persisted throughout the night and on into the next few days, I felt different immediately, just knowing that others were praying for me and checking in on me from time to time. I was also able to see the fact that I was sick in a new way, realizing that my body was doing just what it should do in trying to forcefully expel whatever had maliciously entered into it.
It turned out I had the flu and the healing process that God had begun on that first day finally prevailed. Thankfully, I’m almost back to full strength again. Unfortunately for Lana, she got what I had a few days later, so you can still pray for her!
The reason I bring this up today is to let you know that I understand what it’s like to need prayer, but not want to ask for it-especially at those times when we feel the weakest. But the truth is, without prayer, we’ll just get weaker and weaker. With prayer, God can give us the strength we need to go on.
I also wanted to tell you this story because prayer not only changes things, it changes the way you look at things. Even though I still had to walk through the rest of my sickness, I was able to realize that the very thing that was making me feel sick was the very thing that was bringing my healing. By being able to look at what I was feeling differently, I was able to better endure the rest of what I had to go through.
Prayer really can renew your mind, and by enlisting others to pray for you can help you to renew your mind even faster.
If there’s an area in your life where you’re struggling today, I want to encourage you to do as Paul did and enlist others to join you in your struggle-through prayer. As Paul said,
“I urge you… to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.”
There are all kinds of struggles you might be facing right now: whether they’re struggles with lust or secret sins, fear or doubts, real dangers or imaginary dangers, hardships, relationships or bothersome thoughts. The list is endless. The beauty of prayer is that it can address every single struggle you could possibly face.
One of my friends and mentors says that everyone needs a prayer team. You don’t have to be in full-time ministry, or going through a particular crisis, to ask people to pray for you on a regular basis. You could be an expectant mother or a struggling student, a successful architect or an aspiring teacher. You could be married or single, with kids or without. You could be needing money or managing your money. You could be traveling full-time or at home full-time. Whatever you’re doing or going through, you can benefit by enlisting others to pray for you.
Not sure who to ask? You might ask a friend, or a co-worker, or a neighbor. You might ask a pastor or a priest. You might ask someone you don’t even know, like Lana and I did last week in New York. We were blessed to visit a couple of different churches, and at one church, I sensed the man sitting next to me was a truly “a believer.” I could tell from his “Amens” that he not only believed in God, he believed in the power of God. So after the service, I asked if he could pray for us. He was not only glad to pray, but he invited us to dinner, which we unfortunately had to decline because of our schedule.
At another church, we were talking to a man outside the church before the service, and afterward, we connected again. This time we asked if we could pray for him, and then he returned the favor and prayed for us.
For years now, we’ve been asking for and benefiting from the prayers of others. We’ve asked for prayer from family and friends, small groups and Sunday School classes. We asked for prayer back when we were single, when we were dating, when we got married, and when we started having children.
When Lana was diagnosed with cancer this year, she set up a blog to keep others updated and let them know how they could pray for us. The effects have been tremendous already, as the prayers of others have given us both an abundance of strength, wisdom, healing and encouragement.
If you’re going through a struggle in life, you don’t have to go through it alone. Enlist others to join you in your struggle by praying to God for you. (If you’re not sure who to ask for prayer, or just want to get some additional prayers from believers who love to pray, I’ve included a link in the P.S. below where you can post your prayers on our website and enlist others to pray for you.)
By the way, the Apostle Paul did eventually make it to Rome, just as he had asked the Romans to pray for him.
It may not have been exactly the way he expected, or the timing he expected, but he did get there, through God’s strength-and the prayers of others. As the last chapter of the book of Acts records:
“When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him… For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:30-31).
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for showing us the value of enlisting others to pray for us. Help us to reach out to others when we’re struggling so that we won’t become weaker and weaker, but grow stronger and stronger each day through Your strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. If you don’t have someone to pray with you, or if you’d just like to get some additional prayers from believers who love to pray, we have a special prayer page set up on our website where you can post your prayer. Although we’re not able to respond in person to all of the prayer requests that come in, we do have about 275 volunteers who have signed up to receive these prayer requests each day and who are glad to pray for you and your needs. To post a prayer request, or to read the requests of others and pray for them, too, please visit:
Questions for Reflection
1. Read Romans 15:30-33 . What are some reasons people might be hesitant to ask for prayer?
2. What difference could it make if you enlisted others to pray for you?
3. In what areas are you struggling right now where you could ask others to pray for you?
4. Who are some specific people that might be willing to pray for you?
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