Pray For Us, Part II

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”
James 5:16

You can read Pray for Us, Part I here.

Part II: We Need to Pray for Others

We need to have praying friends, but we also need to be a praying friend.  Be honest, now—how often have you said, “I’ll pray for you,” to someone and meant it with all your heart, only to forget all about it until you see them again?  For years, that was me.  I’d offer to pray for surgeries and doctor’s appointments, marriages and infertility, job interviews and ministry events.  I’d promise it and then I’d forget it.

We need, though, not just to say we’re going to pray, but to truly bow down at the throne of God and lift up our friends, family, and church members, interceding on their behalf.  There are times indeed when we will be the paralyzed one carried to Jesus by our praying friends and lowered through the roof to His feet.  Yet, there are also moments when we need to be the kind of friend who carries others to Jesus, despite the obstacles and despite the weight of the burden (Mark 2:1-5).

Oswald Chambers wrote: “Your part in intercessory prayer is not to agonize over how to intercede, but to use everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence to bring them before His throne and to allow the Spirit in you the opportunity to intercede for them.  In this way, God is going to touch the whole world with His saints.”

Have you seen what Oswald Chambers describes in action?  In this world of technology and social networking, I see people around the world committing to pray for a child with cancer, whom they have never met.  These are mobile, global, continual prayer vigils offered up on behalf of another.  It is God’s way indeed of “touching the whole world with His saints.”

And we are all invited to be a part of that.  God does not appoint one person in a group to pray for everyone else or call one person to intercessory prayer and give everyone else a “Get Out of Prayer” card.  He invites all of us to His throne room on behalf of the people we meet in “everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence.”  Perhaps God sent you through that particular line at the grocery store so you could meet and pray for your cashier.  Maybe the hairdresser who checks your name off the list and calls you back to the shampoo bowl was God-appointed so that you could pray for her.  That interruption in your day that sent you to the store unexpectedly may have been so that you could meet up with a friend from small group, whom you had forgotten to pray for.

So then, how do you combat forgetfulness and busyness and self-centeredness and make praying for others a consistent reality rather than a broken promise?  These are some changes I’ve made over the years so that when I say, “I’ll pray for you,” I truly do.

  •  Mark it on your calendar: Mingled among doctor’s appointments, ballet lessons, and cookouts, prayer requests dot my calendar.  Surgery dates, job interviews, baby due dates, and court appearances are marked on the squares so that I will remember to pray on the very days necessary.
  • Pray right away: If someone calls me with a prayer request, I may very well pray right there on the phone.  If not, I pray as soon as I  hang up.  I may be cutting onions, stirring pasta, washing dishes or folding clothes while I’m doing it, but I’m praying while it is fresh on my heart and mind.  If I receive an email with a prayer request, I pray over it as I read and as soon as I’m finished.  Maybe I’ll write it down in my prayer journal so that I continue to pray over days, weeks or months, but I know that the moment I’ve received a request, I’ve already covered it in prayer.
  • Pray as you read Scripture: I’m forever copying into my journal powerful Scriptures that speak life to me, but I also have Scriptures on those journal pages for others.  As I read, I ask God to reveal Scriptures that I can pray for those on my prayer list and He does.  Right there in that moment, Bible in my hand, I pray for the person who has popped into my mind in association with that verse. ” God, place a new song in her heart” (Psalm 40).  “God, fill her with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9).  Every time I open my Bible, I begin a conversation with God that often includes requests for others.
  • Stop, Drop and Pray: We’ve all had those moments when we’re running through our day and a friend appears in our thoughts for a moment.  “I need to call her,” we might think.  Or, “I need to remember to pray for her later.”  I’ve slowly learned to immediately obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit and pray right then and there, regardless of convenience.  I don’t need to wait until my quiet time to lift up a friend to God.  I stop where I am, drop what I’m doing even if only for a few seconds, and pray—-before I forget and before urgent things distract me.
  • Post It:  I’ve tried keeping a notebook of prayer requests before and it hasn’t worked for me.  What I have done, though, is find ways to post the prayer requests so I see them all day and pray for them often.  I have a prayer list for my kids on my refrigerator door.  For years, I toted around a handwritten list of the prayers from Power of a Praying Wife in my car to pray as I traveled (the list has long since disintegrated from wear and being spilled on).   On my desk, I posted index cards, one for Bible Study, one for my family, one for community friends, etc.  I wrote out vague but meaningful prayer prompts so that every time I glanced up while working, I saw a name and prayer request to take before God.

These tiny changes, none of them life-altering or difficult, have allowed me to follow through on my promises to pray for those I meet.  Now, if I say, “I’ll pray for you,” I don’t just mean it with all my heart, I actually pray it with all my heart.  Prayer is powerful and praying for another is one of the greatest ways we can love them and bless them, even if they never even know how much time we’ve spent before God on their behalf.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Your Comforts Delight My Soul

Last night I had a terrible dream that I was preparing to lead worship—sitting at the piano all ready to go—when I saw my cell phone bill.  Obviously, in dreams it makes total sense that I’m checking my mail just before the music starts.  Anyway, I looked at that bill and it was $1,717. Then the music started and I couldn’t worship.  I couldn’t figure out what words to sing or what notes to play.  I was playing a different song than the congregation was singing.  It was a disaster.

Obviously, I woke up in a cold sweat from this dream (who wouldn’t be freaked out by a cell phone bill and public disaster like that) and couldn’t get back to sleep for a while.  I was anxious and worried about something that only existed in my dreamworld.

Today, as I was doing my devotions, I was reminded of how so much of my worry is about “fantasy situations”—the what if’s I stress over that never actually come true.  These anxious thoughts also always affect my worship.  It is just not possible to fret and praise at the same time.

In her book, Me, Myself and Lies, Jennifer Rothschild notes that the Old English and Old High German origins of our word “worry” mean “to strangle.”  Indeed, worry strangles us, choking out hope, joy, trust and, as it says in her book, “the life-giving truth that should be filling our thought closets” (p.23).

The Psalmist wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts, See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV). I have always loved that verse and I copy it into my journal every time I read it in my devotional time.  Yet, it’s not something I find easy to do.

It’s difficult sometimes to hand over our thought lives to God.  Even though we know worry harms us and our relationship with God, we don’t want God to search our hearts and test our thoughts.  Somehow worrying makes us feel in control and we feel that handing over our anxieties means truly relinquishing any modicum of control we have in our lives.

Thomas Merton said, “Anxiety comes from strain, and strain is caused by too complete a dependence on ourselves.”  It’s true that when it’s broken down, worry essentially is a lack of trust or dependence on God.  We’re telling Him—“we know that Scripture promises us You will provide, You will comfort, You will bring peace, You will be our Advocate, but I’d rather just depend on my ability to fix my circumstances.  Thanks anyway, God”

Chris Tiegreen in Worship The King goes one step even farther than that.  He calls our fear “anti-worship.”  In his devotional, he writes:

But we who worship God cannot praise him with such insecurities.  Our fears are a form of anti-worship–a clear declaration that our God might not have promised us enough, or might not be able to follow through on what He has promised.  Yes, He will let us go through hard things, but never outside of His timing or beyond His protection. So worship Him.  And don’t worry about it.

Refusing to worry, fret, stress, fear and be anxious doesn’t come to us naturally.  It is a discipline of the heart and mind.  We must reject anxious thoughts, deny our emotions the opportunity to take over our lives, and fill up with the truth of God’s Word and His promises to us.

In Psalm 94:19 it says, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” Take delight in His comfort today and consciously choose trust over fear.

In Kathryn Scott’s song, At the Foot of the Cross, she sings, “I lay every burden down at the foot of the cross.”  That’s the best place for those burdens to be—not on our back, but at His feet.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King