December 8, 2008
A Prayer Burden

Nehemiah 2

Christians use the word burden in an unusual way. Instead of referring to a physical load, believers speak of a spiritual weight placed on their heart. In essence, “I have a burden for her” means “I feel an intense urge to pray for her.”

God makes a believer’s spirit heavy when He wants his or her attention focused on a certain matter. For example, He motivated an exiled Israelite, Nehemiah, to intercede for the Jewish remnant left vulnerable by Jerusalem’s crumbling walls. The Lord already knew the Israelites’ troubles, so He certainly didn’t need this one man’s prayers. The burden was for Nehemiah’s good. Allowing God to use him as a conduit to help others boosted his faith. Nehemiah tapped into a reservoir of compassion while on his knees. So great was his love for his countrymen that he swallowed his fear and revealed the need to the Persian king.

Calling us to bear each other’s burdens is one way the Lord strengthens His church. Human nature is such that we feel connected with those we have helped. In a similar way, an invisible thread ties us to the people for whom we pray, even though they may never hear of our intercession. God knits these strands together so that many believers make up one whole, which He calls “the body of Christ” (Rom. 12:5).

Our heavenly Father is looking for people willing to be burdened for their brothers and sisters in the Lord. I challenge you: make yourself available to intercede on behalf of someone else. Blessing the body of Christ is an awesome privilege.

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