Remember poor Job from the Old Testament? Job was a good man who
did nothing to merit his terrible suffering. Instead of offering
him support, friends stood around making comments about how his
troubles were his own fault.
How did Job respond? A line in verse 10 of the epilogue says:
"God restored Job's fortunesafterhe prayed for his friends." The
same line in an older Jerusalem translation reads: God restored
Job's fortunesbecausehe prayed for his friends. Either way, it
seems God looks kindly on those who pray for others who treat them
Not long ago, a friend came to us nearly in tears because of a
difficult work situation. No matter how hard she tries, her efforts
are met with misunderstanding and rejection. We asked if she had
been praying for the people who are working against her. She shook
her head. A few minutes later she said, "I wouldn't know how to
pray for them."
Who hasn't had people in life who, for whatever reasons, didn't
like them; people who worked against them? Like Job, we are called
to pray for others whether they accept us or not. Our friend asked,
"Do I pray for what they want, or what I want?"
We told her there is no need to pray either way for specifics.
What seems most useful is to lift them up and for God's love,
grace, peace and joy to prevail. We pray that God in his wisdom
will work his own great good in their lives and in our lives as
People who develop a consistent prayer life can relate some
remarkable answers to problems that seemed to have no solutions.
Other times, prayers might be offered for many years with no
visible signs of change. What use is prayer if nothing changes?
Regardless of whether prayer changes anything or anyone else,
prayer always changes us. We are no longer helpless victims when we
choose to will the good of those who treat us unkindly. By placing
those who work against us in God's hands, we hold open channels
through which grace can flow.
When we pray for others, our perspective shifts. Hearts soften.
Tensions subside. We become less self-absorbed. Through prayer, we
come to understand it isn't about us anymore, and perhaps it never
Sometimes, we may be called to stay in a difficult situation,
while other times, grace may open a door and lead us to a new
place. Even then, we can continue to pray for those who have caused
us pain. Prayer knows no distance.
Letting go of our expectations, we are content to leave the
future in God's hands. Prayer is about making space for the coming
of God's goodness into our lives and into the lives of others.
Prayer creates a room where Advent can happen. Prayer makes space