Romans 15:30 I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.
This verse has been used by countless missionaries seeking to raise support in their sending countries, and rightly so. One of the mysteries of prayer is how we really can support one another through prayer. How or even why it works is something only God knows, but the fact that it does had been demonstrated down through the centuries. It may be something like “quantum entanglement,” where doing something to a particle in one place affects another particle in another place with no physical connection between them at all. Research is being done in such areas as instant communication that isn’t limited by such niceties as the speed of light. Be that as it may, the fact remains that prayer makes a difference. The power is God’s, but we are somehow involved. That’s part of the mystery! There is no demonstrable ratio of effort to effect, but where the NIV says “join me in my struggle,” the Japanese expresses it as “apply your full strength.” That said, it’s certainly not physical strength. There have been countless examples of people who were physically very weak but spiritually very powerful. “Applying your full strength” doesn’t mean lifting barbells! As in so many areas of life, success comes from taking our eyes off of ourselves and fixing them on the One who is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving. The better we do that, the more Jesus’ words will be fulfilled through us: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7) That is true power in prayer.
I have experienced this very clearly from the receiving end. When we came to Omura in 1981 we had no sending church or agency, but there was a church that prayed for us regularly. However, the pastor got mired in the devil’s lies and eventually the church dissolved. As the problems were escalating we were aware that something was wrong even without being told. We learned some of the details only much later, but we could tell there was “a disturbance in the force,” as Star Wars put it. After the church dissolved we were still here, but it was like I had forgotten why we were here, and the church became almost a hobby, peripheral to my life. God was still supporting and providing for us, but it seemed almost meaningless. God used one of His servants to rebuke me rather strongly, just at the time we were heading for the US in support of our younger daughter entering college. In the US we were led to attend a church that had a number of “home groups” that met regularly, and one of those took us in with great warmth, and we were nurtured spiritually. After four months we returned to Omura, but that group kept praying for us faithfully, and we prospered spiritually. That group has since “aged out,” with most of the members now in heaven, but in the interval the Internet sprang up, and now we have people across the world who pray for us. We couldn’t be more grateful! Having been on the receiving end I try to pray for others, but feel I could do much more.
Father, thank You for the mystery of prayer. Thank You that it works, and also that we don’t know how it works, because if we did, we’d try to manipulate You. (I think we often try to, anyway). Help me be more faithful in prayer, allowing Your gracious blessings to flow through me just as I have received so many, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!