So, I have a theory that when we all get to Heaven Jesus will gather us in a large room (really large!), then He will say, "Does anyone know why most of you are here, other than the fact that I died on a cross for your sins?"
There will a a lot of answers. "I was generous all my life." "I gave to the poor." "I never missed church." All the preachers, who by their own design, will be seated on the front row, will say things like, "I preached faithfully." "I led a growing church." "I baptized a lot of folks, and did hundreds of weddings and funerals." "And don't forget the hospital visits too many to count."
Moms will say, "I tried to be the best mom. I taught my kids Bible stories. I even took them with me at Christmastime to deliver food baskets to the poor."
Dads will say, "I provided for my family. I worked hard. I was in a men's group. I know I made a lot of mistakes, but at least I gave it my best shot."
There will be some grandparents there too, and they'll say, "I learned a lot and helped so many, but even so, it's all God's grace, but I have to say, I suffered a lot too, yet persevered."
The Lord Jesus will smile and say, "These aren't bad answers, but they're not the right answer. In fact, ALL of you got it wrong." The preachers will be aggravated because they don't like to be told they're wrong about anything. The mom's will be upset because they thought that trying to be like the Blessed Mary was the surest way to get on God's good side. The men will say, "David was a moral foul-up. At least I wasn't as bad as him." And the grandparents will say, "I'm not sure what you're getting at, Jesus. Stop the drama and get to the point."
So Jesus will say, "Okay, I'll give you a visual aid. Over there, to my right, against that far wall, is a door. I'm going to cause it to open in a minute, and you will see why most of you are here. Ready?"
After a few suspense-filled moments, the door will swing open, and inside we will all will see a seemingly frail, but faithful, dear woman or man, hair gray, faced lined with wrinkles, kneeling by a chair, Bible laid open, praying the most intense prayers anyone has ever heard. The sound of many names will fall from his/her lips and reverberate across the gigantic hall, as if amplified by a thousand angels. "Bob. Judy, Imogene, Louis, Rachel, Chiffon, Delray, Peter, Kendrick...and so on...and on and on and on."
The names will cascade off the walls like a musical cacophony, loud and powerful and clear. Then MORE doors will open, revealing others laboring in prayer on my behalf and yours; on behalf of everyone we loved, and who loved us; on behalf of classmates we knew, coworkers, neighbors, friends, and more.
And Jesus will say, as we marvel at the crescendo of names that are, by now, almost deafening. He will say, in a way that all of us can hear, "You're all here because of the prayers of the saints," and then He will say, in some mystical way where each will hear our own name fall from His lips, as He says, "________(your name)...you're really here because somebody prayed for you."
Revelation 5:8 puts it like this, "The twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."
Never underestimate the power of prayer, friends. They never go unnoticed by a Sovereign God, and when we all get Home, we will understand. No prayer from the lips of a believer ever falls to the ground and dies fruitless. No, not one.
"...and so we ought always to pray." Luke 18:1