It has sometimes been thought of as the more-or-less-exclusive vocation of the ministry. But we hear a lot today about people praying for each other. Some churches have prayer groups that take "requests." People are finding that praying for one another has great rewards - bringing physical healing, sweetening relationships, and leading troubled youth back into the family.
There's a responsibility that goes along with the agreement to pray for another. Praying takes dedication of thought and of life. In addition, there are things we can learn that make our prayers more consistently effective. Like a deeper understanding of God and His creation. And seeing that existence is ultimately spiritual (of God), as opposed to material (of mortality). Without a deepening, spiritual sense of the relationship each of us has to God, we tend to think that we're separated from the divine, trying to get back to Her/Him.
Prayer for another should help us maintain a clear view of the fact that the unity of God and man, God and woman, is intact. (This is true for everyone, ourselves included.) Prayer that heals is based on the laws of God. These aren't just about getting someone out of a jam. They're fundamentally about learning more of our God-given wholeness. Healing is the natural result of a deepened spiritual sense of wholeness.
One place God's laws are taught is in the Holy Bible. Here we find this: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). Really searching to understand God and His nature is the true goal in helping another. And the more we learn about God, the more we learn about ourselves, because we're God's likeness.
Prayer could be defined as how we think of another in relation to God. And the more clearly we see that we are all God's children, the more we can help people, because we're basing our prayers on eternal Truth.
Christ Jesus was a great healer. And he taught healing prayer to his disciples. He once said, "Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17). At the time, Jesus was asking two brothers to learn how to live and pray in a way that would heal others. They left old ways of thinking and living to accept a deeper, spiritual understanding of life. And they healed.
We, too, can accept that invitation to heal. We, too, can forsake old, limited ways of thinking and living.
But, you may ask, how? You can start by devoting time each day to learning more about God. For instance, ponder the fact that God is good. God is the only cause and intelligence. God governs all harmoniously. God is the only power. He never causes or allows evil, including sickness. All that is bad in our lives is actually the result of mistaken, educated belief that there is something that opposes God. This belief can be destroyed through understanding God rightly.
The Christian Science textbook says a lot about prayer, including this: "Always begin your treatment by allaying the fear of patients. Silently reassure them as to their exemption from disease and danger. Watch the result of this simple rule of Christian Science, and you will find that it alleviates the symptoms of every disease. If you succeed in wholly removing the fear, your patient is healed" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pgs. 411-412). Often after I agree to pray for someone, I think of this. Over and over again it's been proved to me that this is exactly true. When fear is destroyed, discord is destroyed as well.
Not long ago, I agreed to pray for someone who was suffering from a growth on her back. It continued to grow, until she was really afraid. Then one evening while I was praying, I saw clearly how God governs all His creation. I realized that anything opposed to Him was powerless, unnatural. As I sought to understand God better, my own insight of spiritual truth deepened. The woman's fear dissolved. It wasn't long before the growth was completely gone.
As we gain in the knowledge of God, we understand how God created us forever - whole and complete. And that's a firm basis for effective prayer for others.