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Why We Pray: For Others in the Midst of Tragedy

Ben Williams

When we approach the matter of prayer it is important to understand the vast meaning behind it. It is also just as important to hash out the many ways and the many reasons why we pray. What is so fascinating is that God has given His children direct access to His person through the means of prayer. He desires that we pray prayers of praise and thanksgiving, confession and repentance, requests and supplications, needs and desires, discipline and humility. God certainly wants us to know Him more through prayer.

In times like these where we see such evident tragedy among our fellow image bearers of God in places like Japan, Hawaii, and some in the pacific coast of the U.S., we are specifically reminded why we pray for others in times of great need as well. During these days, it is vital to look at 3 reasons why we pray vigilantly for others in times of trouble, uncertainty, and grief.

Scripture Calls Us To.

Ephesians 6:18

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

1 Timothy 2:1-3

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

The Bible instructs us to specifically lift up prayers and supplications for believers everywhere, but it also commands us to pray for all people everywhere. Ultimately, we are to pray for people to come to repentance and trust Jesus as the Lord of their life. Be it tragedies or natural disasters, we are compelled to ask God to use any means necessary to reconcile people to Himself.

It is common for people to become drawn towards spirituality when disaster strikes, so it is beneficial for us to pray for those people that God would indeed grab a hold of their hearts and redeem them from their sins. On the other hand, there are many people that become angry with God during times of major distress, which bids us to pray that God would ultimately be glorified in and through every circumstance even when people are faithless. Scripture demands that we be a praying people lifting up all peoples that are in need.

In God, We Take Action.

Some people are very skeptical about the power of prayer, but the Bible tells us that prayer is our primary action and reaction regarding any situation we may be in. In fact, believers are to view prayer as a mandatory prerequisite for taking on any situation. This is folly to an unbeliever, but there is actually no greater way to love someone else than to lift them up in prayer. Indeed we are commanded to act outside our prayers in order for the Spirit to use us to accomplish His will, but taking action without first being saturated in prayer is reckless for anyone who claims the name of Jesus. After all it is still God who works in and through us for His good pleasure, and when we submit ourselves to prayer, we are taking action through God.

For instances like we are seeing in Japan from the recent devastating earthquake/tsunami, it is of utmost importance to pray and have our prayers lead us to act charitably. God has not simply called us to lift up burdens and leave them completely unattended to, but He has called us to work on rectifying situations and sacrificing in order to see peace restored. God calls us to pray and act in accordance with what we pray.

For Our Glorious Christ.

Jesus is the main reason that we pray for others in times of great trouble. We want to see Him work and give Him the credit for His workmanship. We pray to bring our desires and the desires of Christ together in order to see Him exalted above all. There can be a great temptation to find arrogance in ourselves and our prayers when the primary focus should be to draw attention to our sweet Jesus. We pray because we are dependent upon Him to mold us how He seems fit. Prayer is no doubt a great privilege, but it is also necessary for true intimacy with Jesus. When we become intimate with our Savior, we become more like our Savior, and when we become more like our Savior, the more we want to magnify Him above ourselves. It is not all about results. The Holy Spirit is not our personal genie. We pray because we cannot spiritually excel without His deep intimate presence. It truly is all about Jesus. We show our love for others when we lift them up in prayer, but in reality, we do so to point people to Christ our Lord who instills that love in us.


Teach Us to Pray

Editor: D.A. Carson