Almost every nature disaster or school shooting is followed by a barrage of Facebook posts with people encouraging prayers for that specific event. For instance, if a hurricane hits Miami then within minutes you will start seeing posts that say #prayersforMiami or #prayforMiami.
We see the same thing for individuals who are stricken with cancer or other illnesses or injuries. Prayer, in situations like these, is viewed as a healing balm for those who have been affected.
Now fast-forward to Sunday morning, as you glance down at your church bulletin and you see a very familiar sick/prayer list. Some of the names on that list have been there for countless months. There is a heading over this long list that encourages you to “Remember these in your prayers.”
But are we really praying? I ask this not to judge or lay blame. I ask this because in many cases I believe we put it off and never get around to actually praying for these individuals. Have you told someone you would pray for them, but for whatever reason you didn’t?
Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about offering to pray for someone.
I do not like to admit this, but there was a time I would tell someone I would pray for them, but then I failed to follow through. It wasn’t that I did not want to pray for the person; it was often that I simply forgot.
Sadly, in too many cases I just got too busy and allowed “life” to distract my attention. Please do not follow in my footsteps. Whenever you tell someone you will pray for them, then pray right there, right now. Stop whatever you are doing and show that person how important they are to you.
I recognize that many will think it is a little strange—but we should never feel uncomfortable to petition our Heavenly Father. Prayer works (Mark 11:24)—and remember Satan will use anything to try and distract you from talking God. Paul wrote: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” (Philippians 4:6).
Let me tell you about some changes I have made that I believe make a difference. I ask the for the person’s name who I am praying for—so I can make the prayer personal. I also will oftentimes put the prayer request in writing (or in my phone) so that I have a physical reminder.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:7 Paul instructed us to “pray without ceasing.” What that means is you constantly have that communication line open with God—you remain in a prayerful mindset all the time! If someone texts you and is requesting prayers, stop and pray for them. Pray for them before you respond, so you can honestly say that you have already lifted them up to God.
Learn to pray for strangers (i.e., waitresses, flight attendants, bankers, etc.) who you see having a bad day. I assure you that you will improve. Your prayers will make a difference (Luke 11:9) and it will increase your relationship to God! Praying for others is a tremendous way to demonstrate your faith in an amazing God!
Even on those occasions where you are not sure what to pray for, you can still pray. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Roman 8:26).
Learn to pray immediately. Pray with the person. Pray over the phone. Pray for strangers. Pray through texts. When someone needs prayers do not hesitate to take a knee and go to God on their behalf—I promise you will be glad you did!