Hi Bob, How does it factor in when several people pray for an individual? In other words how does the Lord view this? I have always prayed for other people but did not know how it benefits the person with the Lord.
This is a very good question and one I have thought about quite a bit. Prayer is another one of those subject wherein I am compiling data (for eventual treatment in the Basics series). I will say this. I believe that every righteous prayer from Christian lips is heard, and, one way or another, is answered. Like so many things, we do not know the details. Just as we cannot see the invisible warfare that is swirling around us, so we cannot know the precise effect of every "missile" we launch heaven-ward. But there is an effect. The "prayers of the saints" in Revelation 8:3-5 have been diligently stored away and are answered en masse at that time. These, it is true, are specific prayers touching the judgments of the Tribulation, but the passage suggests that all believers' prayers are taken into account. Also, of course, we have many promises for the answering of our prayers (e.g., Lk.11:5-13). Certain individuals are so influential before God that their prayers carry special weight (Dan.9:23; Jas.5:16-18). And on the subject of many prayers from multiple individuals, Peter's release from prison in Acts 12:1-17 comes at the very time when the Church is praying for him corporately, and Paul stresses the mutual support of the Church for each other in prayer, especially cumulative prayer (2Cor.1:11; cf. 2Cor.9:12-14).
So while it is true that the smallest, quickest, weakest prayer is heard (and answered), it is also true that certain things accelerate, intensify, and make prayer "more effective"; such as 1) multiple petitioners (Matt.18:19); 2) persistence (Lk.18:1-6); 3) righteousness of the person praying (cf. Heb.5:7); 4) fasting (cf. Dan.9:3).
Thus there is an "added weight" effect for all these things. I suppose one could possibly get discouraged by this, seeing that sometimes so much has to go into having a particular petition answered, but I think that is to get things the wrong way round. The more dear and important (and difficult) a petition is as to having it answered, the more we are stretched and built up in our faith by waiting for it, and the more grateful we are to God when it is answered. After all, one of the main reasons that we are still here in this world after having believed in Jesus is for the purpose of building up our faith, proving our faith, and demonstrating our faith. And without having to wait and trust Him, this would never happen (i.e., if every prayer was answered immediately in just the way we anticipated). The children of Israel saw the Hand of God in the most awesome way part the Red Sea and destroy the enemy they had thought was on the point of destroying them. They then "feared and believed" in the Lord (Ex.14:31), but only several days later were doubting and grumbling (Ex.15:22-26). Contrary to this famous negative example (used by Paul in respect of prayer in 1Cor.10), we have to take the view that God will never desert us, but always has our best interest at heart (even if we can't see it with our fleshly eyes). I firmly believe that if we were perfect in knowledge, perfect in faith, and perfect in our Christian walk, then our prayers would be as effective as Elijah's and Daniel's and Moses' ... and our Lord's. For then we would be praying exactly in accordance with the will of God. Of course, we are far from perfect, and so our "batting average" is not as good as David's or Paul's. But we need both to keep swinging and working to improve our swing at the same time, knowing that there are other Christians who are likewise swinging away for us as well, and that every swing counts.
Please also have a look at these links:
The Lord's Prayer
Jesus' Prayers in Gethsemane (part of Bible Basics 4A: Christology)
Can Prayer Be Offered From Heaven?
Prayer as an Element of Spiritual Growth (part of Peter lesson #17)
Corporate Prayer: "When Two Agree on Earth".
Prayer for Failing Faith
Holding up Holy Hands in Prayer
Prayer Offered in Jesus' Name
Praying for Wisdom: James 1:5
Blessing, Cursing, Prayer and the Will of God
Prayer Access to the Father and Christ's Intercession on our behalf.
In the Name of the One who hears our prayers and heals us, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Ex.15:26).