Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up, and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain and the earth yielded the harvest.
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
When I became Rector of a large church some years ago I inherited a very long list of people to pray for each Sunday morning. I didn't know the people or their problems, and neither did anyone else. I had one option, and that was to stop praying for these people, and start again with a new intercession list. This time we made sure we knew for whom we were praying. Secondly, it was expected that the Rector would pray each day for those on the list, but surely everyone should be praying for them, even if some reasons were kept confidential. The Epistle of James clearly tells us that we should pray for the sick and for those who are suffering, and that 'the prayer of faith will save the sick'. The command is clear, we should all pray for those who are sick, it is not just a command for the leaders of the church, it is for all.
However, it occurred to me that the people who could lead this would be those who were elderly, housebound, or frail. This group have often lost their roles within the church and feel helpless, but they could still pray for everyone else. It was to become a wonderful ministry for many who carried it out sometimes for years sometimes.
Every Christian should pray for others daily, never letting up, for God will listen to those who pray.
help us to pray for others
in our community
who are sick or suffering.
May we have sufficient faith
to keep on praying,
knowing that You will listen
and that You will answer our prayer.