When I was a teen I had a boy friend who did not meet my mother's approval. She had only one talk with me, but I knew she was giving the Lord no rest about the matter. A few weeks after our conversation, to my surprise, I discovered I was no longer attracted to the guy. Years later I asked her if she had fasted a lot during those days.
"I don't remember if I did much fasting, but I didn't have much appetite to eat," she replied. How grateful I am to her for being willing to allow my need to become her burden and then to intercede until God answered her prayers!
It is easy to sleep through the needs of others around us, just as Jonah did when God told him to go preach to the Ninevites. Trying to ignore God's voice, he got into a boat headed another direction and then "lay down and fell into a deep sleep" (Jonah 1:6).
That is what happens when we turn away from spiritual needs of others. We soon become "asleep" to their condition rather than allowing the Spirit to give us a burden for them.
When a storm came, Jonah was so asleep he didn't even realize there was a problem. The captain was amazed he could sleep in such a desperate time and demanded, "How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god!"
Could it be that is what others would say to us now if they could speak to us of their hopelessness?
Jonah did get up, but for him to save those with him, meant he had to be willing to die. "Pick me up and throw me into the sea," he told the frightened sailors. They did, the sea became calm, and they worshiped Jonah's God.
Until we die to self-interests, those around us will not be rescued. When we are willing to sacrifice time, sleep--whatever burdened prayer requires--others have hope.
Dear Father, have I turned away from the spiritual needs of some You want to put on my heart? Many have no one else who will truly care for them in prayer. Help me to awaken to the desperate needs of those people and situations You want to change if only I allow Your Spirit to express His passion through me. Unless Your Spirit helps me pray, I am unable to take others' burdens as my own. Holy Spirit, pray through me. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.