This week, my family had a memorial service for my mom, who unexpectedly died last week. My father-in-law is also seemingly in his last days, and we remain by his bedside. Their respective faith in Christ has allowed us to grieve differently than the world does, but the grief is still real.
One of the things that keeps us moving forward, though, is the recognition that believers are praying for us. Based on my experience, here are some ways we know prayer is happening:
1. Brothers and sisters in Christ let us know they’re praying for us. That’s an obvious assumption, I know, but here’s my point: just knowing believers have said they’re praying for us reminds us others are with us in our grief. I’m glad they’ve sent us cards, emails, and texts.
2. God’s strength in us is renewed every day. Some days, the emotional and physical fatigue has been overwhelming. You grieve one loss as you prepare for a second one. Somehow, though, you find strength to press on – because God’s people are praying.
3. We somehow sleep when the burden is heavy. True, sleep doesn’t always come easily—and sometimes it occurs as naps during the day more than hours in the night—but sleep does come. God grants us that rest in response to the prayers of others.
4. When we need to be alert and focused, God has guided us. All of us must make important decisions in times like these, and we often do so without sufficient rest when grief overwhelms us. Somehow, though, God always grants grace and guidance just when we need it. Others have been praying that way for us.
5. The stress of these days has not led to arguing and division. As a pastor, I’ve seen just the opposite happen too often. Families squabble. Conflicting opinions get exacerbated. Hearts get hardened. Prayer has a way, though, of breaking through those potential walls.
6. We grieve, but with the assurance of heaven and hope. Our assurance is not a crutch for a weak people; it’s the confident faith that our God keeps His Word to those who love Him. Resurrection is reality—not fiction. As God’s people pray, our faith grows amid pain.
7. We just know we’re not alone. I can’t explain it, actually. The Comforter in us has been so real we can’t deny His work. God’s Word has been so encouraging we look forward to hearing His voice each day. God’s presence in response to the prayers of His people has been undeniable. And, that’s exactly what we’ve needed.
This article was written by Chuck Lawless and originally published at churchanswers.com on September 3. Thom S. Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.