Christians often say they will ‘lift someone up in prayer,’ but what does it really mean? I can’t give you a theological answer, but I can offer you my experiences with the powerful lift of prayer.
“Pray for British envoy Terry Waite,” the voice startled me awake from a deep sleep around two in the morning my senior year of college. I’d heard about Terry Waite’s situation and about how he’d been taken hostage in Beirut a few months earlier.
I threw my legs over the side of the bed and knelt—not my usual position for prayer, but when a voice wakes you up and tells you to pray, you kneel. For the next ten minutes I prayed. I lifted him up in prayer. I prayed for his captors, for his physical safety, for his sanity, and for his family.
Did my prayers cause his captors to release him? No. That took another four years. I may never know the results of my prayers that night during my lifetime, but I know without a doubt that I prayed for a reason and my prayers played a part in a bigger plan.
Fourteen years later I had the opportunity to experience the lift of prayers during Pedro’s cancer year. I mostly moved around in a grace-filed haze, focused solely on doing all I could to help Pedro, protect our daughters, and survive. Hundreds of people who lifted us up in prayer played a part in the miracle of his recovery (I don’t call it a miracle lightly. His doctors—scientists, not men of faith, called Pedro a walking miracle). The constant and specific prayers helped me to survive what seemed unmanageable.
Two years after Pedro’s recovery I once again received a call to pray. “Pray for Becky Curtis.” Once again, the call came during the wee hours of the morning and I went into my prayer room and sat down and prayed. I knew she had been in some sort of car wreck earlier that evening, but I didn’t know the details. Later on, I discovered that my call to prayer came at a critical time when Becky’s life hung in the balance.
Just over a year ago I had another experience with prayer warriors lifting me up in prayer. Our daughter Sarah had ditched her grandparents in an airport and planned on living there for a week before her flight to London left. She had no debit card and no cash. I messaged my friends, who immediately started praying. One of them told me that she had startled awake early in the morning and felt the need to pray. Her urge to pray coincided with the exact time that Sarah had collapsed into unconsciousness at an airport train stop. Of course, I didn’t discover this until months later.
According to James 5:16 “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (NIV). Anyone who believes in Jesus has his mantle of righteousness—which means that the act of praying, by default, is done by ‘righteous’ people. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a sinner or a saint. If you pray, your prayer matters. It might even change a life.
What about you? Have you ever been called to lift someone in prayer?