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What Prayer Means to You: A Letter From the Editor

Fellow prayer-teachers,

I can’t remember ever giving much thought to how many different ways the apostle Paul said that the results of his ministry depended on prayer.

Of course the gospel is “the power of God that brings salvation” (Romans 1:16). Faith comes not from prayer but from “hearing the message” (Romans 10:17). (And of course prayer is, in itself, no more powerful than the whimper of a baby or the rattle of a beggar's cup—the power is all in the Father and Benefactor who hears and feels compassion.)

Yet consider how the apostle ties together the power of the gospel with the power of prayer. I’m sure this is an incomplete list, even just from Paul’s writings:

  • Through prayer, people join the “struggle” to preach the gospel (Romans 15:30).
  • Through prayer, God’s people open doors for the gospel (Colossians 4:3), causing it to “spread rapidly and be honored” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
  • Through prayer, they help, protect, deliver, and restore gospel preachers (2 Corinthians 1:11; Romans 15:31; 2 Thessalonians 3:2; Philemon 1:22).
  • Through prayer, those who receive that gospel stand firm in it, deepen their understanding of it, and bring their every desire for goodness to fruition (Colossians 4:12; Philippians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11).

woman-prayingThis is the kind of list that gets me wondering who’s praying for me. It’s a list that also convicts me for how inconsistent I am in praying for my own pastor. It’s a list of some very beautiful privileges I enjoy through my Savior Jesus. Why should God use my prayers to do so much?

When I reflect on my 14 years of parish ministry, I know that I did not often think about how dependent my ministry and I were on my people’s prayers. I also know that God kept his people praying for me anyway. I further know that I often enough made it obvious to God’s people that I needed plenty of prayers.

As if it weren’t enough that God would use sinners’ prayers to support and further the saving of souls through the gospel, we know prayer has countless more benefits than that.

One more reflection on my years in the parish: I wish that I had taken the time to prompt each member, “Tell me about your prayer life.”

I’m guessing not all of you share that same regret. Some of you already know how most of your members pray. Some of you prefer to put your pastoral stethoscope on some spiritual artery other than prayer.

Yet in helping members’ prayer lives grow, we aren’t only helping them. We aren’t only safeguarding our own ministries. We are unleashing great power for the health of Christ’s far-flung church and for the preservation of our fast-decaying world.

I am pleased to have been a part of publishing a new prayer book here at NPH that could be useful in your conversations about prayer and your efforts to help your people mature in prayer. It's called There's a Prayer for That, and you can read more about it here.

When we lead people to pray, we share in the work of the angel with the golden censer at heaven’s altar (Revelation 8:3). We share in the work of the Spirit, reminding hearts to cry out, “Abba, Father.” May our resurrected intercessor Jesus keep you steadfast and grateful in this holy work.

Your servant,

Pastor Christopher S. “Topher” Doerr
Broader Reach Editor, Northwestern Publishing House