In Galatians 6:2 Paul writes, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (loving one another, John 15:12).”
Taking all our own burdens to God is what Paul highly recommends in Philippians 4:6, because God answers with peace. But here in Galatians Paul extends that to taking other people’s burdens to God too, because God answers with healing and peace for them as well (“pray for each other, so that those we pray for may be healed,” James 5:16).
It made me wonder just how many burdens I’ve been given relief from because of other people going to God on my behalf. Some of those people I know about because they told me they’re praying for me, but I wonder how many people through the years have asked God without me knowing, that he would “guard my heart and mind” (Philippians 4:7) when I was going through stressful times, or carrying a heavy emotional load, and my prayers for myself at the time were sporadic and muddled.
But Jesus set that precedent back in John 17:15 when he said, “My prayer is not that you (Father) take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” And to Peter in Luke 22:32 he said, “I have prayed for you Simon (Peter), that your faith may not fail” when Satan was out to get him (verse 31). Jesus knew the weight of evil that would press down on Peter – and on all his disciples through the ages – so he took that to God in his prayers on their behalf.
And look at the power of Jesus’ prayers too: Hebrews 7:25 says, “he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them.” Carrying our burdens is what Jesus lives for and does “completely.” But that’s always been the job of a High Priest, from the time of Aaron taking all the burden of Israel’s sin into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement and having that burden lifted off Israel (Hebrews 9:7), to Jesus now being our High Priest forever (Hebrews 7:24) doing the same thing for us.
Right now, and every day, Jesus is “at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 8:1), “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” Hebrews 4:16. Or as Jesus said publicly in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” As our High Priest Jesus lives to do that for us. It’s what High Priests do.
And it’s what his prayers for us as our High Priest do too, which is enable us to “Love each other as I have loved you,” John 15:12, because we’re in training to become priests too. In 1 Peter 2:5 we “are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood,” so just like Jesus we can carry the burdens of others and through our prayers take the weight of them so that people aren’t overwhelmed by them.
And that extends to our enemies too. Rather than condemn and hate them, we can actually “love” them and “pray for those who persecute us,” Matthew 5:44. Because they are the ones being weighed down by evil, not us. They are the ones who desperately need help, and we’re the ones in a position to help them, because that’s what God made us his children for (verse 45).
And Paul experienced amazing things happening to him as a result of “you helping us by your prayers,” 2 Corinthians 1:11. I can see why he wrote in Romans 15:30, “join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers” who had it in for him, because he knew the power of people’s prayers on his behalf.
So, if all this is exactly what God intended, can we expect amazing things to happen for others too? Look what happened to Peter in Acts 12, for instance, when ”the church was earnestly praying to God for him,” verse 5. It really made me think about those in my own family and their burdens, and what amazing things God would love to do for them when I carry their burdens to him.
“Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up,” Ecclesiastes 4:10 says. But what a discovery when we do have friends willing to carry our burdens, and God answers their prayers because of it too.