Pray for Us, Part I

“Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you”
2 Thessalonians 3:1

Bible Study time done, the group started sharing prayer requests.  Please pray.  Please pray.  Please pray, we ask one another.  For my friend.  For my child.  For my husband.  For my coworker.

For me.

Dialoguing with myself silently there at the table, I jotted down the requests of others and thought, “mine seems so silly, so selfish, so small.  Haven’t I prayed for myself already?”

Surely I had.  Not more than one hour before sitting down at that table to teach others, I had been face-to-face with my carpet, not just on my knees, but prostrate before God.  All stretched out before His throne in humble need (hoping my children didn’t come searching for me and find Mommy on the floor).  Not for cancer.  Not for death.  Not for brokenness.  For a string of bad days, for lack of sleep, for a husband who was away, for knowing that I felt far too ill-equipped to teach anyone from God’s Word that night.  What else to pray, but “help me, God!” and to tell Satan to get lost—in Jesus’s name, of course.

Yet, knowing full well that it matters when others pray for us, that the combined power of saints on their knees works in ways that my private prayers do not, I shared my tiny need with the group of ladies gathered at the table.  “I need the rest of this week to get better.  I need my children to sleep and not wake up grumpy, whining and so quick to fight with each other.  I need no more animal mishaps like 30 of my fish dying from some freak thermostat disaster.  We’ve had such a rough start; please pray for us.”

We prayed.  I went home, chased children around the house with pajamas and toothbrushes, climbed into bed all weary myself.  The next morning I woke up for the first time in months, not to the sound of a child, but just because of morning sunlight.  I awoke to a day that got better and better and a week no longer plagued with sleeplessness and stress.  I awoke to notes from friends and family saying they were praying for me.

We prayed.  God answered.

How often have you sat in your small group, though, looked around at Christians you love and you trust, and not shared your prayer need?

Because you were afraid to share the request you have, maybe even ashamed and embarrassed.
Because everyone’s prayer requests seemed so much bigger than yours.
Because it seemed so selfish to ask for prayer for yourself and much more acceptable to ask on behalf of others.

Remember these things:

We Need Others to Pray for Us

Paul poured out prayers in his letters to the churches, that they would understand the love of God, know His will, and persevere in the midst of trials.  To the Thessalonians, he wrote: “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2).  Then, he asked for their prayers in return, “Finally brothers, pray for us, that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

There is no question that Paul himself was praying for the effective spread of the Gospel; nevertheless, he requested those same prayers from others.  He knew that corporate prayer has power and the unified petitions of the saints have impact.  So, praying in your own home and in your own car is good and necessary, but you should not be ashamed, embarrassed, or reluctant to call for backup and enlist the prayer support of others.  It is part of the giving and receiving that we do in the Body of Christ.  “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).

In some ways, Paul was giving the Thessalonian church a gift.  He invited them into ministry partnership with Him, asking them to pray for him and his missionary team as they traveled and shared the Gospel.  We give each other a gift when we invite others into prayer partnership with us.  They now have a part in healing marriages, restoring broken relationships, shepherding wayward children, defeating disease, leading ministries, and redeeming finances.  Not in their own strength, but because they intercede before God on our behalf.  They struggle in prayer and wrestle the Enemy and receive victory in partnership with us.

There are times when our friends must carry us to Jesus, paralyzed as we are like the man in Capernaum.  He could have lain their unable to move and simply hoped that Jesus would notice him on the outskirts of the crowd, but the needs were many and the mob of people overwhelming.  Instead, four friends carried him to Jesus, parting the crowds as best they could and then climbing up on the roof and lowering him down to Jesus’s feet (Mark 2:1-5).  We need friends with such faith, friends who will bring us to Christ’s sandaled toes and request healing for what paralyzes us.

Do you have someone to pray for you and with you?  It could be a small group or it could be one faithful praying friend.  Seek that out so that you do not battle the bad days or the life crises alone.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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

Turning Aside

Last week, my husband’s work schedule shifted around and as a result, so did mine.  He would arrive home from work, eat dinner, do the evening activities, and then go back to work late at night, sometimes not crawling into bed until after 4:00 in the morning.  Then, the next day, he would stay home a little bit longer in the morning to recover some sleep time (barely) and head to work again in the afternoon.

During this great schedule shifting, I found myself  performing my weekly grocery shopping sans children in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday.  This has never happened to me before.  I like to follow a regular weekly schedule; shopping day isn’t on Tuesdays and certainly doesn’t occur after lunchtime when everyone else in my tiny town is also at Wal-Mart.  But, as soon as I walked through the automatic doors and turned the first corner of the store with my empty shopping cart, I knew why I was there.  It was a divine appointment.  I spotted a friend in line at the pharmacy counter, a friend who needed a chat, a prayer, and someone to help pass the hour-long wait time.

A few days later, because of a special school event, I left my daughters’ school 15 minutes earlier than normal and drove in the opposite direction from my home in order to go to the post office (to mail my delinquent Mother’s Day card to my momma!).  On a normal Friday afternoon at that time, I would still be idling my van in line to pick my daughters up from school.  But not that day.   Instead, I was driving down Main Street when I passed a woman limping along the sidewalk at a painfully slow pace.  I knew her.  We zoomed into the nearest driveway and she climbed into the van for a painless and quick drive to her workplace.  It was a divine appointment.  We wouldn’t have been there if not for God shaking my schedule up a bit.

I read in an  article this week that “the great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant (or unexpected) things as interruptions in one’s own life, or real life.  The truth is, of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life” (C. S. Lewis).

My divine appointments weren’t at all unpleasant, but they were unexpected.  My schedule was interrupted.  My normal messed with.  My comfort in the known shaken up.  That’s usually enough to scramble my mind for a whole day.  I don’t cope well with adjustments to my plans—not the big life plans that I form in the night as I lie awake or the daily life plans that make up my to-do lists and take up slots on my weekly calendar.  I like to make plans and follow plans.  It’s as simple as that.

God, however, often designs a different agenda for me, superior plans always, but different ones nonetheless.  As it says in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  As much as I may think I know what’s best for my day or week, month, year or even life, truly God is a better judge of that.

And I can trust Him.  This verse reminds me that even in those moments when things don’t work out the way I’d like, when I don’t get my way in a meeting or my schedule doesn’t meet expectations, even in those moments when I’m pouting and whining before the Almighty’s throne about disappointment and inconvenience, even then the “Lord’s purpose prevails.”  He will win the day.  He will work out every situation I face.  He hasn’t abandoned me or failed me.  He will prevail.

I am learning, then, to “commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3).  As I rise in the morning and shuffle through the house, feeding children, making lunches, (drinking hot tea!), remembering homework, kissing husband goodbye, rushing out the door late and forgetful—in all those moments, and yes even before them while I lie in my bed and quietly pray that my baby girl will sleep just another ten minutes—then I am committing my day to the Lord.  “Lord, help me this day to be the woman of God you want me to be.  Direct my steps, my conversations, my schedule.  Help me to be useful for You.  I need Your strength today to be everything You have for me to be, as a wife and mom and friend and more.”  In that submitting, slowly my plans are transformed, altered sometimes moment by moment, as they are aligned with His will.

It takes a willingness to be interrupted to really see God in those divine appointments.  Imagine Moses in the wilderness outside Mount Horeb, tending his father-in-law’s sheep.  He wasn’t meandering along, aimless and purposeless.  No, Moses had a plan.  He was leading “the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.”  It was there in that holy place that God lit a fire within a bush and captured Moses’s attention.

But, what if Moses hadn’t stopped?  What if he decided that he had a plan and a schedule to keep to?  That the sheep needed to go at a certain speed and travel a certain distance?  That there was a logical explanation for that bush afire and he was too busy to ponder the cause?  He would have missed out on seeing God, hearing God, being called by God to lead an entire nation of his own people out of almost 400 years of slavery in Egypt!

Fortunately, Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight” (Exodus 3:4).

Do you need to be willing to turn aside a little more often from your own plans and allow God to interrupt you?
Are you so focused sometimes on scheduled “ministry” that you miss out on spontaneous ministry moments God lays at your feet?
Are you speeding through life so quickly that you are missing out on opportunities to see and hear from God, all because you don’t turn aside and spend time on the holy ground of His presence?
Have you entered a season of life that you had planned so perfectly, only to find nothing going the way you expected?

Allow God to interrupt you.  Turn aside to see Him at work so that you don’t miss out on the divine appointments on His agenda or the blessing of receiving and pursuing God’s ultimate desires and plans for you.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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

Traveling Companions

On Tuesday nights, I sit at a table with other women, Bibles open.  We ask—What’s going on in your life?  What does the Bible say?  Where are you headed?  Where have you been?  What do you need?  How can I pray for you?

It’s a safe place, an encouraging place, a challenging place, a growing place, a grace place, a truth place.

I love these women, each so uniquely designed by God with pasts so different, but hope in Christ the same.  They are my traveling companions.

And this is what we need, really.  Community.  Strength from relationships.  Just how far would Naomi have made it in her travels if Ruth hadn’t insisted on packing a bag for the journey, too?  Naomi —A hurt woman, weighed by age and life, far from her homeland, changing her name to Mara—“Bitterness”— and trekking back to her people, her nation, her God.  Widow Naomi.   Now childless Naomi.  Without Ruth, Naomi would probably have been buried along the pathway, lost and alone.  With Ruth, came strength, companionship, blessing.  A new home.  Food from Ruth’s work gleaning in the fields.  Redemption by Kinsman-Redeemer Boaz through Ruth’s marriage.  And a place in the lineage of King David, of Jesus, through Ruth and Boaz’s son.

All because of tenacious friendship, of shared pain and faith, of the self-sacrifice of one friend to another.

Then there’s Elijah.  The bold and courageous prophet who, in the showdown of all showdowns against 450 prophets of Baal, had demonstrated God’s glory before all the people of Israel.  Fire from heaven consumed a sacrifice soaked and an altar pouring over with water.   The people “fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!'” (1 Kings 18:39, NIV).

Immediately after this victory, Queen Jezebel threatens to kill him and “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.  When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness” (1 Kings 19:3-4, NIV).

Elijah’s mistake was in the traveling alone.  He ran to Beersheba—the southernmost portion of the land—and then he left his servant and ran for another whole day by himself.  Alone.  No companion to speak truth into his heart.  No friend to share his burden and pray with him and point him back to God.  No accountability.  No encouragement.  No truth-speaking.  No love.

It’s what happens when we journey without a traveling companion.

And so Elijah sat on a mountain, dejected, depressed, overcome with fear and grief and bitterness.  God met him in that place, talked him out of the cave and down off the precipice.  The very next thing God did was give him a friend.

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat . . . Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him…Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant (1 Kings 19:19-21, NIV).

Elijah needed Elisha.  Partner, friend, servant, apprentice.

Not just any traveling companion will do, though.  Who we walk with determines where we go.  Some make the journey harder or full of obstacles or lead us astray to shortcuts and paths unknown.

Just ask Abraham.

Abram and Sarah didn’t set out for Canaan alone.

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.   Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran (Genesis 11:31-32, NIV).

God called Abram out of Ur, told him to pack his bags and get going on a journey at God’s direction.  And Abram obeyed, taking his father, Terah, and his nephew, Lot.  But, something happened along the way.  It’s a mysterious blank.  We can’t peek into the windows of the family tent and overhear the discussion.  Something happened and they stopped before reaching their destination. 

They didn’t just check in for an overnight rest in the Motel 8.  They settled there.  And when Abram’s dad passed away, that’s when the journey began again.  That’s when God called Abram once more and told him to keep moving forward on the path that had so mysteriously been interrupted.

Sometimes our traveling companions convince us to settle with less than God’s promises.  They look around at what the world has to offer and find fertile land and a good place to dwell. Pitching their tents, they urge us to make this our home.  Not God’s best, perhaps, not all that God has planned for us, but surely good enough.

The Apostle Paul, though, knew how to choose a traveling buddy.  Paul with Silas, singing praises in the prison in the night.  Paul with Barnabus–the Encourager—set aside for ministry to the Gentiles.  Paul and Timothy–building a church, building church leadership.

And Paul and Titus.  In 2 Corinthians 7:5-6, Paul wrote to the church, “For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn–conflicts on the outside, fears within.   But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (NIV).

Paul was the apostle who told us all things work for the good, to rejoice always and again rejoice, to be content in all circumstances, that God can supply all our needs, and do abundantly and immeasurably more than our wildest dreams.

Still, Paul was frightened at times, too.   Just like you and me, he had his moments.  God didn’t punish Paul for lack of faith or chastise his weakness.  Instead, God provided for a need.  Paul needed a traveling companion to bring comfort and encouragement in dark days.  Titus was God’s answer to Paul’s fear.

Paul knew this truly.  He usually traveled in partnership.  He had written: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ… for each one should carry their own load” (Galatians 6:2, 5, NIV).

It seems contradictory at first.  Carry each other’s burdens.  Each one carry their own load.  But there’s a difference here.  Paul says each one of us should do our own daily load of life, the everyday, the things we can handle.  Do it yourself.  Don’t lay your everyday over the back of someone else and kick back and relax while they struggle.

Burdens, though, are meant to be borne in partnership.  In community with each other, we lift up onto four shoulders what is far too heavy for just two.

That’s the way God designed us—to travel together.  Ruth with Naomi.  Elijah with Elisha.  Paul with Titus, with Silas, with Barnabas, with Timothy.  You and me, heading to Canaan, to Christ-likeness, to abundant life, shifting burdens onto backs along the way and laying them down at the cross together.  Alone we will not make it.   Together, though, we journey past obstacles, depression, fear, and discouragement, to our hoped-for destination, our Promised Land.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for 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