We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
I think we often underrate just how important prayer is. Both the prayers prayed for us as well as the prayers we pray for others. And I’m not just talking about prayers that feel inspired, which I think or at least I can say in my own experience seem relatively rare. I’m referring mainly to the prayers that we continue to pray, regularly for others, as well as during times of special need. Usually I feel little or no inspiration at all, and am simply plodding along, lifting the person up to God, and going on to the next person and persons.
I do know by experience the difference prayer can make when others are praying for me. I’ll send out an SOS asking for prayer, and often immediately feel and sense, as well as eventually see results.
Paul did this, and it was in the context of his apostolic service with those who served with him. The prayers of the church made a needed difference. Paul himself was dependent on the prayers of the believers, of the faithful. Certainly true of us as well.
That’s the way God has made it. God makes us interdependent, in a certain sense depending on each other. While our full dependence is on God, expressed in prayer for ourselves and for others. In and through Jesus.