When people ask for prayer, I’m eager to do so. Prayer is important; prayer makes a difference. God wants us to pray, and it’s part of our spiritual formation.
So when someone asks, “Will you pray for me?” I pray. Often I pray right away, either silently or out loud, depending on the situation. And I try to pray again later. Sometimes this may be just once or twice; in other instances I feel a prompting of the Holy Spirit to intercede multiple times throughout the day or over the course of many days.
Then, after investing so much in praying for someone, I’m anxious to learn what happened. I hear one of three responses:
Yes! Often I hear glowing reports of God’s amazing answer, either exactly as we prayed or in ways beyond what we hoped. Then I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus. God is good; I’m so glad I prayed.
No! Other times, the person is downcast. God seems to have been silent, not responding in any discernable way. I’m disappointed when this happens, but it doesn’t dissuade me from praying. I persevere. Prayer isn’t about getting our way; prayer is about aligning our thoughts with God’s will. Sometimes we fail to see his perspective. Navigating this is a tricky path, but it’s part of our spiritual journey; it hones our faith. I press on. I thank God that he is growing me.
What? A few times – too often, in fact – they give me a blank stare. This is something they asked me to pray about, but they forgot. It was a passing thought to them, one quickly disregarded. I invested time, emotion, and faith into something for their sake, and God was part of that process, but they went AWOL: not joining in prayer, not listening to God’s direction, and not doing their part to move towards resolution. I was more faithful in praying for them than they were. They didn’t follow through or keep me updated. This minimizes prayer and demeans God; it makes me sad.
At times we can be too casual when asking for prayer. While prayer should be common, it is not trivial. When we ask someone to pray for us, it is serious business; God is involved. After asking for prayer, our role is to pray, too. Next we listen to God, and then we do our part to move towards resolution. This honors God and respects those who pray for us.
Don’t ask someone to pray for you unless you truly mean it and are willing to take part.
What are your thoughts about prayer?