“Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them; give thanks for all he is going to do for them”— 1 Timothy 2:1 (TLB).

I listened as a friend prayed with me over the phone about a family situation. Melita is a true prayer warrior, and I treasure our bond as sisters-in-Christ.

I had called, leaving a voice message when she didn’t answer. I didn’t expect to hear back until the next day. It was late.

However, my friend returned the call before she retired for the night. I was humbled by this beautiful friend’s willingness to return my call so late, even though she has to rise early each morning for work.

Having friends who will stand with you during trials is important. Even more important are those who will drop what they are doing to pray with you when asked.

I’ve learned to pray immediately when someone texts, emails or calls asking for prayer. If I don’t pray at the time of the request, I forget. I also add the person’s name and request to my list so I can continue to pray for God’s intervention or direction for an individual.

God instructs us to pray for others in several places in the Bible. In James 5:16, the apostle writes: “Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results.”

When asked to pray for someone I’ve never met—usually through email or a private message on Facebook—I not only pray for that person’s need, but I also ask them to let me know the outcome. Sometimes, I hear back the same day. Other times, it’s months or even years before I know the results.

In an article by Mike Bennett, he writes, “...intercessory prayer reflects God’s own character of outgoing love and mercy. God wants us to think like He does, and praying for others helps us to think beyond ourselves and to grow in compassion for others.”

Bennett offers these biblical principles for effective intercessory prayer. We should pray:

· From the heart.

· Regularly. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We should pray for our needs and the needs of others every day.

· In detail. God wants us to come to Him with all our specific requests because He likes to hear from us and to know what is important to us.

· With faith. We must believe our all-powerful God loves the people in our prayers.

· With love. Godly love is totally unselfish—the essence of God’s character.

· Fervently. James 5:16 tells us “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

· With a desire to help where we can. Although this might include physical help and encouragement, it’s not wrong to tell someone you’re praying for him or her.

· Occasionally, with fasting. I’ve fasted when a situation is serious to draw closer to God and present my supplication to Him.

Are you praying for others today?

Carol Round is a transplanted Okie, originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, who now resides in Grove. In addition to writing a weekly faith-based column, “A Matter of Faith,” Round spends time with her grandchildren, shooting photos, hiking, working in her yard, reading and studying the Word, volunteering at her church and going on mission trips. For more information, or to contact Round, persons interested may contact her at carol@carolaround.com.