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The Profound Ministry of Prayer

10:01 AMHeather


The sounds on the baby monitor incessantly beckoned me from another difficult night. I no longer jumped out of bed when the baby cried, as his comfortless night terrors left me sleep deprived and helpless. Night after night, we fought the same battles with no success. Slowly, I sunk into what only hindsight can diagnose as a severe postpartum depression. 



The insidious issue began as somewhat typical “baby blues,” adjusting to life with a toddler and an infant. As others proclaimed how happy and wonderful life must be with my healthy sons, I wore the mask of contentment while I secretly downward spiraled from a sleepy fog of struggle into a dark and paralyzing pit.

It was a secret that I trusted to few others. My poor husband bore the brunt of the tears and despair during the predawn hours when I cried inconsolably, right along with our newborn. 


There is no loneliness like a depression that you cannot understand yourself and feel you cannot entrust to others either. 


Were it not for the support of two friends during that season, I am not sure how I would have survived. These friends offered a ministry that was so profound and so powerful that it literally gave me the courage to get out of bed each day and attempt to function. 

When I was too worn and weary – and honestly, too angry -- to approach God in prayer, they offered a sisterhood that I could fall into, having them speak to God on my behalf. 


They lived out the beautiful word picture from the Israelites' battle with the Amalekites.


So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady until sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword (Exodus 17:10-13, NIV).


The truth is that we are all in unseen battles. We are all fighting against things and people and emotions, and we attempt to hide it from one another. We are all attacked every day as we battle in a war that is rooted in the fight for eternity. 

Like these men from ancient days, we need not fight alone. As we brace ourselves for battle, we are called to share in our struggles by being vulnerable with and available to one other.


Joshua, Moses, Aaron, and Hur reveal to us that we all have a role to play in these struggles that are not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). At times, we are the one on the front line, fighting invisible battles with depression and loneliness. Or we wage war against more identifiable enemies like sickness and relationship issues. Other times, we are called to oversee the battles of our loved ones, holding up our hands in prayer, calling on the Almighty God to bring victory. 

When our strength is gone and we are far too tired to fight on, we need those who are willing to hold up our hands. We need those who will pray for us because we can no longer muster the strength to pray for ourselves. Whether we are the brave warrior on the front lines, the prayer partner covering them, or the one who desperately needs someone else to pray in our stead, we must take our positions. 


Taking our positions begins with bravely and honestly admitting where we struggle. In this culture of “social media worthy” lives, we wear masks more readily than any other generation. Surely, the enemy revels in how the technology that connects us actually can distance us from authentic and vulnerable fellowship. 

We must tell ourselves that it is acceptable to tag someone in when we become so bloodied from battle that we cannot even pray for ourselves. 

We must be courageous enough to be transparent and concede to those around us when we don’t even want to pray. 


I vividly remember the day I crawled out of bed and huddled in the corner of my bedroom as my two boys cried through their baby monitors. I phoned my friend in sobs beyond words. She knew. She knew how bad things were getting for me, and she told me to just breathe and let her hold up my hands. She gave me permission to lean into the hard place and let her be the rock I could sit on while she lifted prayers on my behalf. 


Oh, that we would be that sister or brother in Christ. That we could make ourselves available to be the soft place to land and the safest place to be for those struggling and wounded.

 Image courtesy of  Unsplash


In so doing, we are being more like Jesus than we might imagine. In taking up the position of profound prayer ministry, we are mimicking the very actions of our Savior who “always lives to intercede for us” (Hebrews 7:25). 

On the darkest night of your soul, call this to mind. Our Jesus sits on the right hand of our Father and pleads on our behalf. 


Not only that, the Holy Spirit within us offers the same ministry: “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). 

As we seek to be and to find the people who will hold us up in prayer, we know that even there, in our loneliest of moments, Jesus and the Holy Spirit hold up our arms while our battles rage.

The glimpse of the Israelites fighting with the Amalekites ended in victory on that day, but it was far from over. These two nations faced off numerous times in the Old Testament before God granted ultimate victory. 


Looking back, I should have sought professional help during my postpartum depression. In God’s infinite mercy, he brought me through that battle. Yet, I know for some, the battles you wage are ongoing. Difficult marriages that never seem to ease, or financial struggles that are relentless. Ongoing journeys through grief. Or, the friends I know who are coming to grips with the diagnoses of lifelong mental illness for their children. 


May we not be discouraged when we live with ongoing battles. 

May we have grace on ourselves in these unending struggles.

Even more importantly, may we extend grace to others facing ongoing battles. 

May we be the ones who dare to say, “Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. I’ll walk this road with you for as long as it takes.” 


May we live out the truth of the quote calling us to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" (Ian MacLaren, Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush, 1894).


Actually, as Jesus followers, may we go one step further and not just be kind but also live out our calling to bear each other's burden. 

May we see that offering to pray for someone is not some glib comment, but it is serious business. Let’s see it as a commitment, remembering the model of Jesus and the Holy Spirit who intercede for us. Let us recognize that praying for others in hard battles is a powerful and profound ministry, as the Lord intended it to be. Let us lay our burdens down with our sisters in Christ, crying out when we need our arms to be upheld. And let us stand firm to be friends like Aaron and Hur, approaching “the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:16).


Indeed, holding each other up with the cover of intense and continual prayer is a precious and beautiful way to be a warrior with those who are fighting hard battles. 


So let the battles rage. For we are holding one another up. And we know the One who grants eternal victory is our Father God.


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