A friend asked me this afternoon to pray for an upcoming incident in her life. She dropped in her request without pause while describing the situation. I said without special emphasis that I would and we went on with our conversation. And I will, now and during my prayer time before bed.
No startled surprise, no awkward silence. Simply asked and answered. What a lovely change, and what a lovely life it is when we ask our friends to pray for all the big and small events in our lives!
If you're like me, and lived a sloppy life of playing hide-and-seek with the Lord until recently, have you begun to tell others that you would pray for them, or used the slightly less pointed, "you'll be in my thoughts and prayers?" Has that surprised them? Has it surprised you?
I remember people telling me they would pray for me, and reacting with embarassment, a conversational hands-up pushing away of the act, as though they offered to pick up and carry my car. It seemed too lavish, too much for them to do, which I know now was a mirror of how difficult I found prayer.
Now that I look forward to giving and receiving prayer, I am sometimes startled by people who offer prayer who didn't strike me as pray-ers. It's tempting to wonder whether they mean what they say, but perhaps my receptivity to their offer actually makes them pray a little. God surely blesses their intent and their prayer, and who knows? they may be drawn along the path to a deeper relationship with God because they felt obligated to say something to God, since I was so thankful for their prayer. (Of course, some of them may be surprised that I was offering to pray for them!)
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. - Phil 1:3