Reflections – 2023.06

All Things for Good: The Prayers of the Saints


And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.  (Romans 8:28)


The saints pray for all the members of the mystical body, their prayers prevail much.
– Thomas Watson

“I’ll pray for you.” Maybe you’ve said that before. Maybe you’ve done what you have said. The apostle Paul was always asking for prayer. For example, he writes to the Ephesians, “Keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.” He is not simply doing something ‘religious’ here. Paul knows that the prayers of the saints are effective. The apostle James says as much when he says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James knows that prayers are powerful. The book of Acts records that Peter was in prison and that earnest prayer was being made for him by the church. We know that Peter was miraculously delivered from prison. Jesus Himself was often in prayer with His disciples, teaching them how to pray, encouraging them in their sleepiness to ‘watch and pray.’

I think it is fair to say that many Christians struggle with prayer. Possibly this is because we prayed for something that didn’t turn out as we had hoped. Or maybe we are uncomfortable praying – unlike reading God’s Word, where we are on the receiving end of the communication, sometimes praying might seem like we are just talking to the air or to ourselves. Or maybe we just don’t see it as very practical – it isn’t getting anything “done” – our preference would be for God to give us something to do that is concrete.

Maybe we need to challenge ourselves here. The apostles coveted the peoples’ prayers. As our great high priest, Jesus is constantly interceding for us – He certainly sees prayer as essential and powerful. The Westminster and Heidelberg Catechisms, the work of many pastors living in difficult times, both contain significant sections on prayer, with an emphasis on the Lord’s Prayer as a model for the Christian. When you consider our worship service every Sunday, there are prayers of invocation and adoration, intercession, thanksgiving and confession. None of this is about tradition. All of it is about the belief that prayer is powerful and effective, that the LORD teaches us to ask, believing that He hears us. And so knowing the power of prayer, we pray for each other, believing that He can do what we cannot (for example, change our hearts, bring healing, comfort us in grief at the deepest points, forgive us our sin that we might have hope, take our fallible efforts and bring fruit that is more than we might expect or desire, dwell with us and make us more like Christ). The LORD answers our prayers – what better thing can we do for another person than to pray for them? So let’s pray for one another.