Ezra 6:10 “…so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.”
Even a heathen king like Cyrus wanted to be prayed for! He had perhaps heard stories about this “God of Heaven,” and thought it wouldn’t hurt to be on His good side. He was evidently not obsessed with wealth for its own sake, because he didn’t hesitate to make a very considerable financial investment in this project, returning all the gold and silver items that had previously been taken from the temple and also committing to the continuing expenses not only of construction but of the upkeep of the temple activities. Actually, God had prophesied Cyrus’ activities years earlier through Isaiah. (Isaiah 45) That said, God’s work in him certainly included this desire to be prayed for. Offering to pray for people can be a very good way to open their hearts to the Gospel, but if you offer, you had better follow through! Actually, praying on the spot for people can have a huge impact, but it had better be genuine prayer and not “boilerplate.” If we are sincere, then the Holy Spirit will guide us as we pray, and we may well find ourselves as God’s “mouthpiece” to that person, touching them profoundly.
I will always remember Dr. Cal Guy, one of my professors at seminary. In a place like that, people are always talking about prayer in one way or another, but if someone asked Dr. Guy for prayer, he stopped right there, wherever he was or whatever he was doing, and prayed. That might be walking across campus, in the middle of class, or in a store in town. That was a marvelous example to me, and fit in perfectly with the environment in which I was raised, where prayer was as natural as breathing. He helped me overcome any feelings I might have had of embarrassment at doing something so “politically incorrect” as praying in public. This was and is very different from the Pharisees “praying on street corners” that Jesus talked about, (Matthew 6:5) because the purpose is not to be seen; rather, whether you are seen or not is irrelevant. I have tried to follow Dr. Guy’s example, and God has used that many times. Today, I pray for my students at the beginning of each class period (since I teach in private schools it’s not forbidden) and many students have responded quite well. The difficulty there is in keeping it fresh, avoiding the “boilerplate” already mentioned. We have the promise of the Holy Spirit’s help, (Romans 8:26) so I need to seek that and accept it. If I will do so, the Spirit’s words through me will accomplish more than I could dream.
Father, thank You again for the privilege of prayer, and specifically of praying for others. It is a marvelous thing to be Your instrument of blessing! May I never draw back for any reason, but press forward more and more so that Your Word may go forth through me to accomplish everything for which You send it, for Your glory. (Isaiah 55:10-11) Thank You. Praise God!