So here is my latest question: Are you praying for other people, as you would like to have them pray for you? It is kind of like the Golden Rule, except for praying. I would imagine that if we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that we don’t intercede on behalf of others as sincerely, frequently or deliberately, as we know we should.
Steven Curtis Chapman has a song “Let Us Pray” that illustrates my point:
I hear you say your heart is aching
You’ve got trouble in the making
And you ask if I’ll be praying for you please
And in keeping with conviction
I’ll say yes with good intentions
To pray later, making mention of your needs.
But since we have this moment
Here at Heaven’s door
We should start knocking now,
What are we waiting for?
This song has always stuck in my head for the simple reason that it is so easy to have the best of intentions to pray for someone only to either forget or just mention the request in passing. Please watch out for Joe. Strengthen Sue’s marriage. Protect my kids at school today. While this type of conversational prayer is not always bad, it begs the question, “If I was in trouble, how would I want to be prayed for?”
In just the past week, I can think of a friend who is having very unexpected brain surgery next week, another who lost her father unexpectedly to a heart attack, another who has to leave her family indefinitely for medical treatment, and another who is having marriage problems. When I imagine myself in their shoes for just a moment it drastically changes the kind of prayers I offer up for them. Suddenly, the murmurings of “keep her safe” “be with her in her grief” and “protect their family” seem woefully inadequate. If it were me, I would want to know that someone is on their knees, crying out to Jesus on my behalf. If I am undergoing surgery, I want someone praying for me, my healing, my nerves, my wife and kids, my doctor, the nurses, and everything in between.
Here is the point. As Christians, we are called to intercede for others. Now a part of the benefit of that is for those we are praying for, but perhaps a larger part is for ourselves. You see, when I am committed to praying for others wholeheartedly, I experience the benefit of fellowship with God. I enter into that place of intimacy with Him, where He senses my heart and my burden for these people. As I come before Him in prayer, I must have a clean conscience and be rid of any sin. Have you ever prayed for something very specific for another person and then seen that prayer answered in precisely the way you prayed it? That is a pretty amazing feeling and adds to that connection with God. Finally, when I am interceding on another’s behalf, I cannot help but do it out of love. And anytime that I love another person so genuinely and completely as in this type of prayer, it can’t help but overflow into my life.
So I would encourage you this week to take just a moment to think about what you are doing when you commit to pray for another. Put yourself in their shoes and ask what you would want if you were in their place.
Then pray those things.
Be specific. Be bold. Be confident that He will answer. Approach the Throne of Grace with confidence. I guarantee that Jesus will meet you there and take your prayers to the Father.