What can you do when a neighbor unexpectedly loses her job? When a friend receives a diagnosis of cancer? When your sister’s marriage heads for divorce? You might send a card, assemble a casserole, or offer to pick up the kids from school, but those small acts usually feel inadequate. When those we love are struggling, we want to do something that’s truly helpful.

The apostle Paul faced struggles of all kinds. He was assaulted, falsely accused, slandered, imprisoned, and shipwrecked. His enemies stoned him. His friends deserted him. And repeatedly in his letters to the churches, Paul tells the believers he is praying for them and then asks them to pray together for him. He knew that prayer was not a fanciful abracadabra or a therapeutic practice. He knew that prayer was his great help.

We, too, help others by prayer. Like the friends who cut a hole in that Galilean roof so they might lay their paralyzed friend at Jesus’s feet, and like the parents who boldly insisted that Jesus lay his hands on their infants, we together bring our loved ones to Christ. We know he will help them.

And the glorious result of our prayer is not merely what God gives but the opportunity we then have to praise him for it. “So many prayers” means that “many people will give thanks.” In prayer together we build an arena in which God publicly displays his gracious answers to the thundering crescendo of many praises.

Prayer may be countercultural, invisible, and difficult. It’s also truly helpful.

Megan Hill is the author of Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in Our Homes, Communities, and Churches. You can follow her on Twitter at @mevanshill. These devotions draw upon themes in Praying Together by Megan Hill, ©2016, published by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. www.crossway.org.