Why pray for others?

Paul realized that when there was a problem he couldn’t fix, Christ was on hand to sort the problem out for him – either by giving him strength IN the problem (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), or by rescuing him OUT of it (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).

Either way, Paul learnt by experience that Christ was real. He had good reason, therefore, to say in 2 Corinthians 1:10, “On Christ we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” But he THEN ADDS in verse 11, “AS you help us by your prayers.” Paul also learnt that the prayers of people played a crucial part in his deliverance..

Reading the rest of verse 11, it even sounds like Christ was waiting for prayers before he acted, so that “many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” The more people praying the merrier, because “MANY” people would then witness the miracle when Christ did it.

Paul realized, then, that when “we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation,” verse 6, because the people praying for him would see Christ’s intervention in Paul’s life and in turn that would produce in THEM “patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” They too would realize there’s a real God on hand who “comforts us in all our troubles,” verse 4.

Praying for others in their troubles, then, not only plays a crucial part in Christ either rescuing or comforting those in trouble, it also makes Christ real to those who are praying. When people prayed for God to help Paul in his suffering, they actually saw God answering. It taught them all a vital lesson that “just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows,” verse 6. Yes, we suffer as Christians, but when we’re praying for those who are suffering, Christ answers with comfort. He lifts the person suffering out of his despair (verse 8) and out of the awful feeling of doom that’s suffocating the life out of him (verse 9).

What those praying get to see is Christ “raising the dead,” verse 9. When a person has given up all hope, and all he can think about is things getting worse and worse until the inevitable worst case scenario happens, Christ lifts them out of their ‘death wish’ and hope and peace fill their hearts instead. Christ exchanges their death wish for a ‘life wish’, by giving them patient endurance in him to see them through, with either strength in the problem or rescue from it. Either way he is healing as promised, and that promise becomes real to us too when we’re praying for others.

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