The other day I was talking with someone about a prayer need and they said in passing, “I am not worried, I have tons of people praying.” This made me ponder. Does this imply that the more people we gather to pray, the greater power we have to get the results we desire? If this is true, then the more people praying for us, the better? Right?
Well, in a way, that is true. But not in the sense you might think. Jesus encourages us to gather to pray. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.” Jesus is all about the community aspect of prayer. But I don’t think the numbers matter like we think they do. Think about it. If someone is sick and they have lots of friends praying, are they more likely to receive God’s healing touch than the person with no friends who simply cries out to God? No, God hears all our prayers. We cannot influence the will of God through numbers. Yet the Apostle Paul often asks groups of people to pray. So, is it a numbers game or not?
I like the responses of Philip Yancy in his book, "Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?" He says praying for others, interceding for people you know and people you don’t know, is always a good thing. Yet not because it influences God. Instead, it influences us. Yancey says that interceding for others increases our awareness of others. As we pray for another, we become more empathetic. We can see with new eyes the need of another, and it gives us a new perspective. We pray out of obedience to God, but we are changed and transformed through the process of prayer.
So, should we bother asking our friends and families to pray for us? Absolutely. By inviting them to pray, we are opening our life to them, sharing our need, and remembering as Christians we must live out our lives in community. We are also loving them by inviting them to join us in prayer. Personally, I love to prayer for others. I often take someone’s hand or wrap my arms around them to pray. I can feel my love for them grow as I pray, and I remember once again that this is what Christian community is all about.