I do not like being disturbed when in the middle of something. Least of all when praying. I tend towards grumpiness when this happens. But there are good interruptions that help us pray effectively for other people. What do I mean? Let’s have a look at Paul in Ephesians chapter 3.
He starts praying for the Ephesians, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—” (Ephesians 3:1 NIV), and breaks off until verse 14, “For this reason I kneel before the Father,” (Ephesians 3:14 NIV) when he takes up his prayer once more. What causes the interruption and how does it help?
Paul gets distracted by thinking about “the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4 NIV). This ‘mystery’ (Gk ‘musterion’) is that God always intended to include Gentiles along with the Israelites as heirs of the Abrahamic promise (“all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:3 NIV11-GK). Such an amazing truth sends Paul off on a mental journey reflecting on God’s grace, the riches of Christ and the role of the church, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms”, (Ephesians 3:10 NIV11-GK).
Then he gathers his thoughts and continues his prayer for the Ephesians. “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14–21 NIV11-GK)
I see five themes here. When praying for other people we can:
1. Reflect on God’s glorious riches, v16.
2. Pray for people to be strengthened in their faith and endurance, v16.
3. Pray that Christ will dwell in their hearts, v17.
4. Pray they will grow in understanding Christ’s love, v18.
5. Pray they will be filled with all the fullness of God, v19.
If we pray in this way we will see God do more than we can ask or imagine in the lives of those we pray for. Interrupted prayer is good prayer when the interruption is caused by reflection on the mystery of God’s purpose. The next time you pray for someone why not permit the mind to meditate on these scripture promises, and then bring the person back to God in prayer.