It is the privilege and ministry of every disciple to pray on behalf of other Christians and for the world. We join with the Lord Jesus in His prayer that believers will not be destroyed by their sins but that they will repent and be restored (James 5:16, 19–20). We pray that their faith will be strengthened and that our own faith will sustain and encourage theirs. The prayers and encouragement of God’s people bolster not just the individual being prayed for but the whole community. Our intercession becomes God’s means of working grace in us. “He draws me to himself by having my brothers serve me,” Luther says. Furthermore, He uses His people’s prayers for the salvation of the lost. In 1 Timothy, Paul urges that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” because God “desires all people to be saved” (2:1, 4). James declares, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power” (James 5:16).
Disciples also bring sacrifices to God. We worship as priests together, sharing in Christ’s priesthood. When we gather to worship, we bring our hearts, our praises, our songs, and our prayers, “lifting” these things from earth to God in heaven with the prayer that He will be pleased and will accept our offerings (see also Phil. 4:18). The writer of Hebrews exhorts us:
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have. (13:15–16)
He then assures us that “such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (v. 16).
When we become disciples, we gain a community of indescribable spiritual worth and privilege. It is not a community that exists only for our personal encouragement. To the contrary, it is where we serve. It is the only place on earth where the forgiveness of sins is found, the only people who can do what is truly pleasing to God.