My friend called to say she couldn’t see me after all. Something had come up. Before she said her farewells, she beseeched, “Pray for me.”
My friend didn’t elaborate upon her prayer request. She was calling me on her time. In our pay-as-you-go-cell-phone world in southern Africa, every second which ticks by means less future use (until you have the funds to pay for more phone time). For many of my southern African friends and me, too, for that matter, we are careful with our cell phone usage. We say what we need to say and then say our good-byes.
Thus, when my friend said, ‘pray for me’ I knew what she was asking for. Nearly seven months ago, I spent considerable time with my sweet friend – listening to her pained, suffering heart. My friend has a significant life issue that needs resolution. Unfortunately, as is the case with many life challenges, answers to important prayer matters do not come as quickly as we would like them to; they require time. Such is the case with my friend. And since she chose to share this heartfelt prayer request with me, I am determined to pray into this situation for as long as it takes. I have her name in my prayer journal and there, her precious name, shall remain until the Lord’s answer comes.
Friends, there is no greater solace, no greater blessing, and no greater joy than to have someone praying for you in a consistent, steadfast way.
As Believers, we actually signed up for this prayer deal when we decided to follow Christ. There is an attitude and posture of faith we are asked to not only demonstrate, but fully participate:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
New International Version, Romans 12:12
The American Standard Version of Romans 12:12 says it this way:
Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.
What I like about both of these translations of Romans 12: 12 is the active, steady, and strengthening force of the exhortation:
Be joyful – constantly rejoicing – in hope
Be patient – continually persevering – in affliction and tribulation
Be faithful – steadfastly devoting oneself – to prayer
This kind of prayer empowers and inspires our hope, our confidence, and our joy.
This kind of prayer sustains and strengthens our resolve in serious, soul-stretching situations. For, my friends, we are not guaranteed a life without struggle, challenge, illness, or hardship. We can, however, find the peace and strength to endure.
This kind of prayer seeks the throne of grace for the love, care, assurance, and power of the Holy Spirit to help us and encourage us – to stay the course until the Lord’s answer comes.
This is the kind of prayer that my friend has needed and still needs.
Last year, I wrote about another friend who I have continued to pray for through the years. I entitled that blog post “Am I One of the Few?” The words from nearly a year ago continue to resonate. Friends, we need others to pray for us, to hold fast to us, to stand at the ready, and to endure with us. And our family and friends need us to pray in the same way for them!
This is the power of a meaningful, joyous, active, and courageous prayer life!
This is the secret of the joyful, hope-filled, patient, steadfast and faithful person of prayer. We keep praying and praying and praying and praying until the answer comes from our Lord. Because we understand that our prayers are addressed directly to Him. As I shared, our prayers do not have a promised delivery or resolution date for the challenge, distress, need, or pressure we are experiencing. Our Lord has a time, place and purpose for His answers. However, that doesn’t mean we stop praying.
We do as we are asked:
Be joyful in hope
Be patient in affliction
Be faithful in prayer
I know it isn’t always easy. Some prayer requests seem to have been prayed for decades with no apparent resolution. Other prayer requests – especially prayers for those with life-threatening illnesses – often do not offer the answers of healing and restoration that we sought. And there are times in which no answer seem to come at all – even after praying and praying and praying.
What do we do then?
Do we remain joyful in hope?
Can we be patient in the face of such struggle and pain?
Is it possible to be faithful in prayer when the answers do not align with our heart’s desires?
Friends, I believe it is possible.
Through the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to hold fast, stay confident and expectant, and remain joyful as we pray. As we do, such prayer will strengthen the faith of not only our family and friends for whom we pray, but will strengthen our faith life as well.
So, when a friend or family member says, “Pray for me,” I will – for however long it takes. I desire to be that kind of joyous, patient, faithful friend.
How about you?