Much of the typical mid-week prayer meeting is taken up with praying for those who are sick, or suffering in some way. The list is usually long, and if we take in those outside our own local assembly the list can get very large. There are many of the Lord's people who are going through trials of various kinds and intensity. Many are physical difficulties, while others are related to other circumstances of life.
I know from recent personal experience that it is a great encouragement to know that the saints are praying for you. It is a real blessing when a brother or sister takes the time to send a card or to call to express an interest in your condition and to give a word of encouragement. This is truly a spiritual ministry and one that many saints who feel they have no role in the body of Christ could easily undertake.
The purpose of this brief article is to encourage us to consider all the needs of those who going through such trials. We need to be more sensitive to the emotional, and spiritual needs. Often when one is sick the body is not the only part of the person affected. Many thoughts enter the mind which cause unrest. Anxiety of the unknown, concern for loved ones, and even a weakness of faith to appropriate God's promises may be present.
Most Christians have memorized verses such as Romans 8:28 (And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God....), and I Peter 5:7 (Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.). Often these and other verses are quoted to those going through difficulty; however, perhaps a greater need is that we pray that their faith may be strengthen to appropriate these promises and enjoy the peace of God.
We must also look beyond the individual to his or her loved ones. They too are suffering. Parents of a child with cancer need prayer as does the child. The wife whose husband is having open-heart surgery needs prayer. The husband of a wife who is suffering also needs prayer. There can be much anxiety associated with a loved one being sick.
When all is well with us we may fail to take time to be sensitive to all the needs of the sick and suffering. We may simply be occupied with the physical aspect of the problem. While praying for the health or well-being of an individual is certainly needed, the emotional and spiritual needs may, in fact, be greater ones, and yet we often fail to pray for them. This means we must stop and consider all aspects of the individual's difficulty and sympathize with them. This will lead to more heart felt intelligent prayer.