Yesterday we talked about praying for others with muscle. Today let me "stretch" that thought to the idea of praying for others with "agony." That's what Paul asked for when he asked the church at Rome to pray for him. He didn't just say, "Hey, if you think about it would you throw up a prayer for me?" No! He said, "I urge you to 'strive together' with me in prayer to God for me!"
The word translated "strive together" is one word in the original language which comes from the root word, "agonizomai." What English word do you see in the Greek word "agonizomai?" It is where we get our word "to agonize." So what was Paul asking the church at Rome to do for him? He was asking them to "agonize" in prayer on his behalf.
Jesus used the same word in John 18:36 translated "fighting." Paul also used it in 1 Corinthians 9:25 speaking of athletes who "compete" in a one-on-one setting like wrestling. Just as with the word "fervently" that we saw yesterday, this word also is used in Luke 22:44 to describe the way Jesus prayed in the garden the night before His death. He was in "agony" praying.
So how do we do this? How do we agonize in prayer for others? I think the best way is to take the time to identify with the person you are praying for. In other words, pray for their needs as it it were really your need. Hebrews 13:3 tells us to remember in prayer those who are in prison for their faith as if we were in prison with them. In other words, identify with the needs of the person you are praying for. Pray for them as if their need were your need.
You see, if a husband called me on the phone today and said, "Please pray for my wife. She was just diagnosed with breast cancer." I would pray for that wife. But if my wife went to the doctor today and was told she has breast cancer, I would pray far more intensely. If it were my wife, I would "agonize" in prayer for her. You see, my prayers for the other husband's wife will become far more intense if I pray for her as if it were my wife that had the cancer. Make sense?
So as you pray for others this week, pray with muscle (as we saw yesterday). And pray with agony, praying for their situation as if it were yours!