Burdened in Prayer?
Have you ever felt burdened as you pray for those you love, those you are responsible for, or those you care about who are struggling? Sometimes I think there are times in life we are asked to share each other’s burdens in this way, by joining with them in prayer.
Who comes to mind for you I wonder?
Paul had been responsible for starting, teaching in and encouraging many churches and many people during his various missionary journeys… we know from his letters that he cared about them enormously and often wrote of his prayers for them to grow, to trust, to be transformed.
But in 2 Corinthians 11:28&29 he expresses something startling about the burden he feels for them. After a list of all the trials he has faced in ministry (including a few near death experiences) he writes “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” Caring for and praying for those we love can be a real burden.
So what do we do when we feel burdened to pray for someone?
Firstly we remember the God to whom we pray… he is infinitely bigger than the situation and circumstance. The Hebrews (ch1-4) needed reminded that Jesus was greater than Moses, the High Priests, the Old Covenant, the Angels… what do we need to be reminded that Jesus is greater than? He is greater than the struggle your friend is going through, He is greater than the person or situation at work that is painful. He is greater than the government making good and bad decisions about what we should and should not do. He is greater than the virus we all seem to be at the mercy of. He is greater than the financial or political stresses in the world right now. He is greater than everything and anything else in all creation so let’s lift our eyes to Him today in the midst of the burdens of life. He has made a way that will once and for all bring hope to our lives and brings us into a relationship that means we are not alone in our situation. Matt 28:11“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Secondly we remember that we are called to draw near on the basis of what Jesus has done for us… it is entirely because Jesus has made us acceptable to God, and has made a way possible for us to come to God that we can draw near to find grace and mercy to help us in our time of need. Keeping the incredible gospel in our minds as we come to God will shape our prayers, will help us give thanks, will help us keep things in perspective, will help us pray for God’s will to be done in the situations. We can pray for those we love that they will hold on fast to the gospel or come for the first time to the gospel, and draw near themselves to the God who can help them. (Heb 4:14-16, 10:19-23)