Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prayer {Day 3}: Praying for One Another

If you're like me, you always have a handful people that you want to remember in prayer.  Maybe it's someone who is ill, going through a tough time or maybe it's a stranger you just feel lead to pray for.  I have a prayer journal that holds the names of people I want to pray for.  If I don't write their names down and work from a list, I have trouble remembering.

Sometimes, though, I struggle with whether or not I'm praying for the right things.  How do *I* know what God's will is for this person?  Could I be praying for them on a deeper level?  Please don't misunderstand.  I'm not saying that my prayers aren't heard or valid the way they are or that prayers need to be perfect.  I'm just wondering if I could be more respectful and effective.

One way to know our prayers are right on target is by praying God's words (Scripture) back to Him.  I wrote about this back in 2009, specifically in regard to praying for our children, and still find that it is an incredibly powerful way to pray.

A couple weeks ago, my friend, Gloria, sent me an article by Dr. Will Bruce, and I found it incredibly helpful.  I want to offer up a few quotes from the article and outline some suggestions he makes for deeper praying.

A few of the sections in the article really got me thinking (he says it like it is).  There's this one...

"To be guilty of the sin of prayerlessness is to be guilty of the worst form of practical atheism. It is actually saying we can get along without His help while the evidence is very clear on every hand that we cannot. Could it be that the sin of prayerlessness stems from our unbelief that he is a living God who exercises direct influence on the affairs of men? Instead of waiting until crisis problems develop which result in panic praying for others, we need to trust God to protect them as we pray Spirit-led, thoughtful, caring prayers before the problems overwhelm them, and they are unable to cope. We need to engage in major battles, not just minor skirmishes, moving from surface praying to in-depth praying. We need to pray both defensively and offensively."

Here's another...

"We need to progress beyond, “Lord, bless John and Mary,” and be specific, thus moving from crisis praying to protective praying. For example: Fred or Jane is unemployed. We pray for a job, as we should, but what is God saying in this circumstance? What are the spiritual lessons to be learned? What are the attitudes, the frustrations, the mental depressions, the fears? How about the interpersonal relationships within and outside the family? Is God glorified in this time of stress by their actions and reactions? Many times in our very limited intercession for others we pray for deliverance from difficult circumstance, sickness, or accident. We forget to ask that Fred or Jane will take God’s more than ample provision and learn the lessons God has for both in this trial. Our concern is not necessarily for the removal of the problem but for victory in it and God’s glory. Daniel was not kept out of the lion’s den. He was kept in it!"

And, this one...

"...we must not excuse ourselves by saying, “How can I pray for them when they do not tell me their needs?” Others’ needs are often similar to our own. As we think of their needs, his word and his Spirit will lead us in prayer."

Bruce goes on to provide ways we can pray for those on our list (and for ourselves!) in a more meaningful way.  If we are intensely lifting someone in prayer, we could go down the whole list of 17, but on a day to day basis, we can chose two to three at a time.  Bruce suggests we ask that the one we are praying for...

1) ...will realize his/her present exalted position in Christ.

2) ...will present him/herself as a living sacrifice.

3) ...will be filled with the Holy Spirit.

4) ...will be regular and systematic in the study of God's Word.

5) ...will have the mind of Christ.

6) ...will grow daily in Christian maturity.

7) ...will appropriate the full armor of God.

8) ...will be alert to Satan's strategy.

9) ...will not love the world system.

10) ...will have a spirit of brokenness and humility.

11) ...will have a servant's heart.

12) ...will build a scriptural family.

13) ...will become an effective prayer warrior.

14) ...will know God's hand on him/her in physical and material things.

15) ...will engage in prayerful worship.

16) ...will be involved in an accountability team.

17) ...will reach out to the unsaved.

I'm finding these suggestions to be very helpful and they are making for a more meaningful prayer time for me.  I'm hoping that maybe they can do the same for you.

If you would like to read the article in full or read more in depth explanations of the above 17 suggestions (including Biblical references) above, please go here.

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  1. Ah, thank you! I struggle with the same "inadequacies" when praying for others. These suggestions/helps are so helpful and very appreciated.

  2. I am loving this series of posts from you this week. And as always, I love that you are unassuming in your approach...that you share and don't mandate. Your words (and ok, your recipes, too) always make me wish you were within driving or walking distance.

    This was a good reminder for me that even when I don't know how to pray for others or what they need, that I should still pray (and how to pray better). I am not a panic prayer, nor do I feel I should trouble Him with mundane or trivial requests. I mostly count my blessings and help my children in counting theirs, but will also ask for His guidance, to learn the lessons He wants me to learn for myself and for others. I like that you keep a prayer journal for reminders and will start doing that, too. Thank you Jane!

  3. I too pray on a continual basis, whether to just talk to him and be thankful and always sending his busy Angels with my family especially on the road.Years ago [ and this was not meant to be funny-but so happens....] my son always drove a little haphazardly for me so I always told him that I was sending guardian Angels along for the ride. he had a come back answer says"I know mom,there feathers are all over the back seat,I can't see to drive"

  4. I grew up in an environment which directed us exactly how to pray: pray for wisdom for the doctors operating on Joe, pray that Monica will get her test results back positive, etc. This was fine. But I think it's okay to pray as simply and meditatively as we might, too -- "God, remember your child Esther," "God, I hold up (our leaders) (the one who hates me) (Aunt Begonia) to you" -- and sort of hold that thought/prayer. This kind of prayer can keep me a more focused and attentive than a more directed or listlike one. But of course everyone's experience here is different. Thank you!


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