In the 1980s, I had the privilege of meeting and becoming a friend of the late Alec Motyer. (You may find this link helpful in learning about him: www.ivpress.com/j-alec-motyer.) Alec was a biblical scholar and pastor known widely for his commentaries on the Old Testament. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he was ordained in the Church of England in 1947 and later was Principal at Trinity College, Bristol, UK. In 1986, we were speaking at the Portstewart Convention in Northern Ireland. During the week, we took walks together after lunch. I have the fondest memories of those conversations. When we parted at the end of the week, he said, “My dear boy, I will pray for you.”
The following year (during which time we’d not been in contact), I was struggling to be ready for our evening service, and I turned in desperation to Alec’s commentary on Isaiah. Finding the help I needed, I decided to phone him out of the blue to thank him. Hearing my voice he said, “Beryl and I have just had a cup of tea, and we prayed for you and Susan and Cameron and Michelle and Emily.” All these years later I am still moved to think that he had kept his promise to pray, and that was why he had not only my name and Susan’s, but the names of each of my children on the tip of his tongue.
It’s an amazing privilege to pray for others—to be able to come before the living God and seek Him on behalf of someone else. Offering our sustained prayers for the souls of our loved ones is an important endeavor. At Parkside, we recently concluded a study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and were struck by how much and how often Paul prayed for those under his care. Paul’s concerns in prayer were first and foremost for the spiritual well-being of the church. This is surely a good pattern to follow. It is often hard to keep going, and so Paul encourages us to pray at “all times” and with “all perseverance.” How thankful we should be to find ourselves on the receiving end of such prayers. On another occasion, I will record my gratitude in this regard to another Irishman, T. S. Mooney — but for now, in thinking of Alec, it is clear that I will never know this side of heaven how God used his prayers in my life.
Our recent study in Ephesians is now available at truthforlife.org and I warmly commend it to you. Also, this month, we’re offering a book I recently finished titled Pray Big. Drawn from our Ephesians study, Pray Big looks more closely at the eternal nature of Paul’s prayers and at his confidence in praying to a God who can do all things. Our other offer is a concise book titled, What Is a Christian? It’s a good book to give to a friend with questions about Christ—so, one book to help us pray, and another to help us tell others about Jesus and what it means to love and follow Him.