Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Praying for others

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


Julie D. said...

I am always surprised that the offer slips out so naturally and then is received so very gratefully. Good for us all round...

Roz said...

I learned something of value from an old friend of mine. If a need or problem was expressed, at the close of the conversation he would always ask if we could take a minute to pray about it. He would then, in a brief and conversational manner, ask God to be working in the situation and bring comfort, provision, or whatever was appropriate.

I love that. It's so incarnational -- God is with us. Plus, it prevents the desire to intercede from becoming an empty and forgotten promise.

Justin said...

Amen to that, Roz! I'm used to that type of conversational prayer from growing up in a covenant charismatic community. It makes total sense to me and I often pray for the courage to be able to offer that when it makes sense.

I actually just kinda struggled with that last night. A friend of mine is in a band and had just finished off a great set.. I found him outside the bar and he asked me to pray for his sister who was having complications with her pregnancy, he'd just received a call. I felt the urge to join with him in prayer right then and there, but didn't verbalize it for fear of, well, you know that stupid fear of being thought a freak that reveals itself as such an irrational fear in retrospect. As we stood there kinda in stunned silence I looked down and started praying to myself... at which point he apologized for giving me such downer news.

The happy ending: He just called me a moment ago, and is now a happy uncle. :) Last night, the young boy had his umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck. I can't imagine how many prayers were shooting upward right about that time.

Therese Z said...

You guys have pointed up a different aspect of this post: not just praying for others, but ASKING for prayer from others.

I think the offer to pray comes before the request for prayer. It still feels a little grabby to me on occasion, and I sometimes silently wish for them to offer to pray for me, rather than ask, like Justin said, afraid of being thought a freak, and a grabby freak at that.

And, Roz, you're right, God is with us then and there because we have gathered together. It's not like we'll run into Him later.



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