"... far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you" 1 Samuel 12:23b
WHAT kind of prayer and what model of praying is implied here? I think this is not a regular Jewish prayer, which is a memorized one. “Praying for you” goes beyond traditional religious prayer. This kind of prayer gets very personal, spontaneous, and really makes a difference. It is what theologians label as intercession. What we are all very familiar with is the prayer that asks or the prayer of supplication. What Samuel did was to go beyond self, it was praying for others.
Samuel unceasingly prayed for his people and not just for his own needs.
My own definition of intercession is praying on behalf of others, not as a mediator but as a member of a larger community of faith. It is the prayers of the saints; and by saints I mean the prayers of all living believers or followers of Christ. When saints pray, guided by the Holy Spirit affirming the teachings of the Holy Scripture, God's will is being done here on earth!
In the context of Samuel, he was praying for God's chosen people who are also known as God's stubborn people! Honestly, this is the way you deal with stubborn people—pray! A teacher should try this for his or her class; a pastor for the flock he is called to serve; or, a President, for the nation he is leading.
In our context today, we pray on behalf of any one that the Spirit of God stirs our hearts to bring to the throne of Grace. By the stirring of the Spirit, I do not mean casual feelings of mercy, rather, it is the carrying of other's heavy burdens as if they were yours and having done that, you find rest only when you have brought it to prayer!
What are we to pray for others? Well, we pray for what God wants us to pray. How do we do that? We do that by being sensitive to the Spirit of God, who perfectly knows what the Father wants. Sometimes, we are tempted to pray to God for what people want us to pray for, or for what we think is good for them. This is subtly deceiving, because oftentimes, what we ask and what we think is good for others may not be what God wants.
So what difference does it make when we pray for others as the Spirit stirs and Scripture affirms? First, it creates a spiritual impact which only God can do to the one or the ones praying. It also creates a spiritual and supernatural impact which only God can do to the ones being prayed for. As we pray for others, as stirred by the Holy Spirit, God gets all the glory. We all learn to depend upon God. We affirm our need to be with a praying community. Finally, we are made willing not only to pray for ourselves but also for others. This time, we now want to do it! Show up for your church prayer meeting and find God with others calling upon His name! Again, we only learn to pray when we connect with God's people to pray. Pray to God to lead you to a community that prays.
Thanks for reading and may God stir our hearts to pray for others! I do not only write from my heart, I am learning to pray from my heart, too.