“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.”
1 Timothy 2:1 MSG
“I’ll pray for ya!”
That’s what we promise.
But do we really remember? When life crowds in, do we keep our promise to pray for surgeries, doctor’s appointments, marriages, infertility, job interviews, ministry events, concerns about children, or direction….not for ourselves, but for others?
Because truth be told, so often we’re selfish, attending to our own needs and forgetting the needs of others.
Or maybe we’re distracted. Far too busy. Simply forgetful.
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.
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.“
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 who needs prayer.
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?
- 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.
- Pray as you read Scripture: 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 learned to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit and pray right then and there. 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. I’ve posted index cards around my desk with prayer requests for others. I have a prayer card in my Bible and another in my car.
Too often we try to confine prayer to specific times, meetings, sacred places and holy moments. But prayer can happen right here and now.
As soon as the Holy Spirit nudges our heart, we can offer those prayers up to Him on behalf of others.
Originally posted 5/25/2011