We start the week wrought with prayer needs.
- Our friends on the Texas gulf coast
- The friend or family member diagnosed with cancer
- The wayward loved one
- You name it
And yet, our nature may want to focus on self.
- Getting through another Monday at work
- Obtaining The new thing or situation we want
- Receiving The attention or recognition we seek
- You name it
A focus on self limits prayer.
It’s the driving force behind our anxiety, our angst and our anger.
It’s a distraction to keep us off balance with God’s purpose, disengaged with God’s people, and out of step with God’s will.
If our attention on self increases while our relating to God decreases, we fall straight into the hole of ineffectiveness for God and what He has for us to do.
This is not to downplay suffering and situations arising in our lives that cause us to pray continually about our circumstances. There is nothing wrong with praying for our own situations.
But do we pray enough for others? We say we will. Social media overflows with promises and declarations of prayer. But does it really happen and if so, what does that look like?
Do we spend 10 minutes? 1 minute? Or do we type it and forget it as the next prayer request comes along? Or does the keyboard playing cat video completely push the promise to pray from memory?
Intentionality is our friend when it comes to praying for others. What can this look like?
Remove Your Agenda
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6:6
In the verse above we see an intentional step of carving out time and place to pray. We also see the value God places on this action. When prompted to pray, put aside time and devices as quick as possible within reason.
Empathize with the prayer request. Invite God in and ask Him to clarify what to pray for.
Interceding on behalf of another person requires you to care enough to put aside your own wants and needs at the moment. If you pray with the idea of getting it over quickly so you can move on, have you given God and the person/people your best attention?
Focus On What God Can Do
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8:26-27
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit works on our behalf to make sense of what we have trouble communicating. When praying, our limited thinking can distract us and remind us of our weakness. When reminded of the difficult situation someone faces and focusing on a solution we can understand, we may not ask God for the miraculous things only He can do. We need to make sure we don’t pray for only things that make sense. God’s ways don’t make sense. His solutions may not make sense. His power doesn’t make sense. Swing for the heavenly fences.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. – Colossians 4:2
The urge to continue to pray counters our quick information society. We move on to the next topic so quickly, steadfast prayer can suffer. Let steadfastness mark your prayer life. Let others know how you prayed for them. Encourage them with scripture you prayed through specifically for them. Let them know the miraculous things you asked God to do. Follow up later and ask for an update. Continue to empathize with them. Continue to pray for them. Rejoice with them.
While it seems easy and easy to say we’ll do, prayer requires time, effort and commitment. What will this week look like if we make sure we don’t pay lip service (or keyboard service) to prayer requests?
Let our focus rest on the author of life and the only one powerful enough to change circumstances for those we pray for.