Christian Living

Can I Pray For You?

We Never Know Who Has a Deep Need for Prayer or How Much Our Words Could Help

I volunteer at a parachurch organization that helps people in need and shows them the love of Jesus. After the participants had left, I poked my head into a classroom to wave goodbye to one of the leaders.

Not her usual happy self, I stepped in and asked how things had gone.

She had a rough session that morning. Discouragement spilled forth as she shared the ordeal. One of the couples had opened up, revealing more of their situation than they had ever shared with anyone else in the program.

Though skilled at what she does, with lots of experience dealing with participants’ struggles and years of life’s wisdom on top of that, she was at a loss.

Their circumstance seemed unresolvable, a hopeful solution, illusive. She didn’t know how to guide them.

Overwhelmed, their burden weighed heavy on her usually capable shoulders. As she shared their condition, I, too, felt the gravity of the situation and saw no way to help.

“Can I pray for you? I asked.

“Sure,” she answered with little enthusiasm. “Prayer would be good.” Then she continued gathering her things.

I hadn’t communicated clearly. I tried again. “May I pray for you now?”

Her eyes brightened. “Yes!” A hint of her usual smile returned. “I’d really like that.”

Despite her eagerness, I sensed a bit of discomfort, too. I didn’t know enough of her faith practices to understand how she expected this to occur. Some people become unnerved with direct one-on-one prayer.

One man shuddered at the idea of me actually praying out loud for him and asked that I do so silently.

I awkwardly extended my hand. Unsure, one of her hands met mine. As I thanked God for her tender heart, her other hand joined in. She clasped my hand tightly. Her grip grew more firm as my prayer unfolded.

I prayed the words the Holy Spirit gave me. When I said them all, I knew not to add any of my own. What had been said was all that was needed. “Amen.”

She opened her now misty eyes, and the rest of her smile returned.

“Thank you,” she said with sincerity. “It’s been a long time since someone has prayed for me.”

I was glad I was the one to end the drought and, at the same time, sad that there was one in the first place. This woman is a regular attendee at her church, a senior saint, a pillar.

Yet people in her community had not been praying for her, at least not out loud and in her presence.

Instead of being proud for my actions, I was resolute. I pledged to be more intentional in praying for others, to make sure those in my circles don’t have the same lament.

How can you expand your prayer practices to intercede for others? Is God calling you to be more intentional?

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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