Given a profession, people often assume certain things you can and will always be willing to do. Work on computers for a living? We assume you will always be willing and able to answer any computer questions that I have. You're a musician and love playing the piano? Then obviously you'll be interested in this documentary on underwater tin-can drumming (I don’t think this is a “thing” by the way). You’re a pastor? You must know all Bible trivia and have the best prayer life in this congregation. Confession. I do not.
My wife and I are good about daily prayers with our kids. We gather, hold hands, and inevitably the dog jumps in the middle to lick our held hands, but the prayers start, giggling happens, and we all pray. Thanking God for the day, asking guidance and protection for the day to come, and prayers for family and friends due to sickness or travel or anything else. This is vitally important not only in our relationship with our kids, and not only to establish vital routines in our kids’ lives, but also to meet our need to go before God with petitions and prayers.
But prayer doesn’t start or stop at bed time. We also go before God with thanks before we eat, before we take tests, before we have hard conversations, and all other times of the day. Prayer is so vitally important that in actuality we are to make every moment of every day one continuous prayer. "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV).
Bishop Arthur Hopkins once said that “Our prayer and God’s mercy are like two buckets in a well; as one ascends the other descends.” It’s a good reminder that just as we need water each day, we too need God’s mercy. And while we affirm that God knows what we need before we ever ask, we still need to come before him and ask.
We pray for others because Christ constantly prayed for others. He prayed for others even while hanging on the cross (Luke 23:39-43). He prayed for those who had no clue the harm they were doing--not so much that they were harming him, but because they were harming themselves with their own actions.
Phil 2:3-4 reminds us that we are to regard others with more importance than us. That’s a really great reminder that just as WE would want to be prayed for and pray to God for our own needs we should definitely be doing this for others as well.
And praying for others in front of them has power. Being mindful of them before the One who holds all things is a powerful affirmation of your relationship. We stand tethered before the throne of God and seek his mercy, guidance, love, compassion, grace, and protection.
My wife and I have come to realize that our marriage, while going on 15 years strong, is strengthened by prayer together. These prayers are nothing extravagant or long. They are simply a time for us to come together, as a couple that God has BROUGHT together, and give thanks and seek mercy and guidance on the day ahead. But it’s also a very vulnerable, intimate, strengthening, and beautiful opportunity to be honest, open, loving, and caring with your spouse BEFORE the face of God. In marriage, we share, care, and open up to allow the other person to fully know us. So praying for those things we know our spouse needs while they listen in is a powerful, humbling, emotionally lifting, and extremely intimate experience. In prayer, we can be honest with both God and spouse, share our needs, confront our struggles, and face the things we do not look forward to. We can take it all before God.
Hear the needs, cares, and concerns of your spouse and pray for them, WITH them. All your words to encourage them and strengthen them. Knowing that God hears our prayers and that our partner is keeping us in their thoughts and prayers is a strength that carries us through the joys and trials that each day brings.
Dr. Robert Ritzema
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra