This month we will be focusing on the benefits of prayer and intercessory prayer. How is this a health challenge you ask? First let’s list a few ways that prayer can improve our health.
- Prayer elicits the relaxation response, which lowers blood pressure and other factors heightened by stress.
- Prayer helps regulate your heartbeat, making it stronger and less stressed. Though it is a mental and spiritual activity, prayer has been known to speed up the recovery of the heart following heart attacks and cardiac surgery.
- Prayer helps you be humbled. When praying for other people we tend to sympathize to others’ problems rather than be selfish. When praying positively, we tend to see a change in our overall attitude making us feel happy both mentally and socially.
- Prayer releases control to God, who is greater than ourselves, which can reduce the stress of needing to be in charge.
- Prayer can elicit feelings of gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and hope, all of which are associated with healing and wellness.
- When prayer uplifts or calms, it inhibits the release of cortisol and other hormones, thus reducing the negative impact of stress on the immune system and promoting healing.
- Prayer gives us a stronger mindset. While prayer also promotes hope in the future, faith is also what keeps a religious person centered and strong. Through their belief they have the strength to overcome both trivial and major worries.
- Prayer helps with recovery.After a situation leaves you emotionally or physically distraught recovery is a timely process. Prayer serves as a way to deal with the aftermath and keep one’s faith. Your mind and body are focused solely on healing while prayer keeps you centered and hopeful.
- Prayer gives you peace of mind, that whatever the outcome of your prayers, God loves you and will answer in a way that will be the very best, even if you can’t see it right now.
Besides praying for our own needs, we should also pray for others. There are many examples of intercession in the Bible and many reasons the Scriptures give for why we should pray for one another. But perhaps the most obvious reason we should intercede in pray for one another is because prayer really works.
Praying for other people is not just a religious exercise for very devote Christians seeking to check all the boxes on their spiritual to-do-list. According to Scripture, praying for other people is massively important to their success in ministry, life, and walk with God. Certainly God can accomplish his plans for us and others even if we don’t have a prayer team doing intercession on our behalf. But when we pray for one another, it helps in very practical ways:
- 2 Corinthians 1:11, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
- James 5:16-18, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, 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 heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”
- Philippians 1:18-21, “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
- Colossians 4:3-4, “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
We have examples of Jesus praying for people in the Bible, the Scriptures also make clear that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us too. Therefore, if we are filled with the Spirit and we are staying in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), we too will intercede for each other and pray for others.
John 17:9, 15, 20-21, “I pray for them [the disciples]. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. . . .My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. . . .My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Romans 8:26-27 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
So, your challenge is:
*Start a Prayer list and pray for others on your list. Record answered prayers.
*Put your list where others can see it, like on the fridge, or on a cabinet door at work. This will remind you to pray when you see it. You could make it a community list and ask others to post their requests on it also.
*When someone tells you of a situation they have, ask if you can add them to your