Several years ago, I sat in Bible study as a woman shared what had helped her through the sorrow of her miscarriage. So many women had listened and cried with her, but only one had said, "Allow me to pray over you," right in the middle of their phone conversation. That friend had blessed her more than any other! A few months earlier, I had begun to pray over people during phone conversations, or when we were together and they were sharing a burden from their heart, but I wasn't the one to step up at the moment she needed it. I had thought about it, but I didn't, and I missed out on an opportunity to bless her. How I wished that I had been the best friend and truly blessed her! I resolved at that moment to do my best not to miss another such opportunity.
The principle I follow is quite simple, don't just say you'll pray, pray right then. It takes some courage and boldness, and it can be a little bit uncomfortable initially. The more you do it; however, the more natural it will feel. The easiest way to begin is with specific prayer requests. If you're on a prayer chain, or if someone calls you with a prayer request, or if you see someone and they share a request with you, stop at that moment and pray with the person delivering the request. Two purposes are served in doing so. First, you'll actually pray before you get distracted and forget, and second, you'll bless the other person. It's also useful when the prayer request is turning into gossip. (How many prayer meetings have you been to which turned into gossip sessions?) Tactfully, nip it in the bud and pray. God knows all the details, it's not imperative that you do too!
After you've formed the habit of praying aloud in these instances, you'll begin to be prompted to pray at other times when no specific request for prayer is given. On a couple of occassions, I've gotten into conversations with friends who have been sharing the frustrations they're having with their husband. I have found that there is a fine line between being open with your feelings and frustrations, and bashing your husband. When I sense that the line is being crossed, I quietly interrupt with compassionate words and ask if I can pray for their marriage. I cannot express how much more effective this action is than if I allow my friend to ramble on and on, growing more and more frustrated, and pulling me into the frustration as well. It works! And it's what God has called us to do. Galatians talks about bearing one another's burdens. James 5:16 says, "Confess your sins to one another, pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."
Once you begin praying in conversation like this, you'll become more and more aware of opportunities to do so.
- A friend has to cancel a playdate because her kids have the flu. Take a minute to pray with her for their health, and that she would have strength and a servant's heart of compassion towards them.
- Your neighbor is in a stressful situation at work. Pray for wisdom and discernment, right there in the middle of the cul-de-sac.
- A woman at the park shares that she has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Don't hesitate; pray with her for peace and healing!
- Your mom shares that one of your cousins is getting into trouble. Don't talk about how your aunt and uncle were too permissive and spoiled him, pray together that God would draw your cousin to Himself, and that the Holy Spirit would bring conviction to his heart.
In this hurting and broken world, the opportunities for prayer are endless. Imagine what could happen if we practice a little more carpe diem in our praying. Less talking, more praying!
Going beyond, "I'll pray for you," and seizing the opportunity to pray works for me!
Grace and Peace,
For more Works for Me Wednesday entries, click here.