It took me many years and honestly until just a few years ago for me to ask someone, “May I pray for you?”. It felt awkward asking someone if they needed prayers. I was worried I may bring up a topic (religion) that was to be kept to myself and out of the public. I would hear people say someone in their family was sick or they were struggling to pay bills and instead of asking if I could pray for them I would respond, “I am so sorry to hear this.” What a dud answer.
I think I found a pat answer several years ago that I would tell someone I would keep them in my prayers and then walk away. I think maybe once or twice out of twenty opportunities I actually prayed in private for them. I wasn’t a very good prayer warrior if I never lifted my shield or sword for others when I said I would pray and didn’t. I think I was saying what others wanted to hear but not what God wanted to hear. I was breaking promises constantly. I think I didn’t understand the power of prayer. I now do!
Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Our Heavenly Father has commanded each of us to pray for others. That’s right, commanded. There is no squirming out of a commandment. Especially from God.
When we pray for others, it is called intercessory prayer. Praying for others strengthens our bond with them, and it also strengthens our relationship with God. He asks us to help others in their suffering by praying for them with a genuine heart for healing in all situations. When we carry the burden of others, we are walking through their journey with them and better understanding what they are going through.
James 5:16 “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.”
I would like to share with you a few stories from when I prayed for others. These are very powerful stories and a true testament to God listening to our prayers.
I have an acquaintance that I have known casually over the last five years or so. I only see her occasionally at networking events. Most people in my community of networking know me for my faith and my ministry. I think they recognize Jesus through my ministry, at least I pray they do.
This lady approached me last year shortly before Christmas. She pulled me to the side of the room out of everyones’ earshot. “LoLo,” she said, “Will you pray from my daughter and her relationship with my husband and me? You see she has turned against us and we don’t know why. She is a completely different person and truly says she hates us. I am desperate for help. Will you pray for us?” In the past, I would have said yes and walked away. No more because I understand prayer differently now.
I held her hand and began, “Heavenly Father, we come to you today for healing and guidance. We have an earthly separation of a family that we don’t understand. Father I would like to ask you to heal this relationship that Satan is obviously influencing and remove this dark angel. Please Father heal this daughter’s heart removing darkness and offer patience to her mother and father as you do Your work in Jesus’ precious and Holy name. Amen”. She smiled and gave me thanks.
Our networking group was celebrating the Christmas holiday and we didn’t meet for three weeks. The first week back this lady wasn’t in attendance. I briefly said a prayer in the hope everything was okay.
The following week I was getting a cup of coffee and I hear someone say, “LoLo, may I talk to you?”. I turn around and she was back, it was the lady asking for prayers. “I want to tell you something. Your prayer worked. Shortly after you prayed my daughter came around and offered her love to me and my husband and she was a new person. It was because you prayed!”
I hugged her and said I was grateful but she had to understand I just said the prayer, God did the healing. I can’t take credit for His amazing works. Her face was brighter and she was so at peace. Ah, the power of prayer and even just one short prayer.
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
I have blogged before about when my mom was diagnosed with aggressive melanoma cancer. I want to retell this story of prayer.
I was at a lunch networking meeting and my phone began to ring. It was my mom and she never calls me, usually, my dad does so I knew I needed to answer it. “Hello,” I answered. My mom blurted out, “The doctor just called me, I have stage 4 melanoma!” I was dazed and confused, “What?” She repeated the same statement over and over. I told her I was with Lexie ( my daughter) and we would come right over.
When we arrived at her house she was sheet white, shaking her head, and then she said something that crushed my heart. “I am so mad at God for giving me this cancer!” I almost collapsed, how could she say this and blame God?
Later that night I sat quietly soaking in the bathtub trying to absorb the news I heard a few hours earlier. My heart was broken with my mom’s comment. I knew she was surprised at the phone call, she probably only heard the first thing the doctor said and nothing else. I don’t blame her for her anxiety but I definitely knew we needed prayer.
As the hot water warmed my cold body I began in prayer as the tears began to flow. “Father, am so sorry for my mom blaming you for this cancer. I love you Father and I know she is just confused and anxious. I pray Father that you may give her peace and confidence that she has You walking with her through this season. I know she is blessed with the best doctors at MD Anderson and you have given her a lifetime of success to be able to afford to travel to get the treatment she needs. I also know Father that if it is Your will that this is the time you are calling my mother home to You that I stand in faith in Your will. I trust You Father and I am releasing this to you. I love you Father and in Jesus’ name I offer this prayer.” A peace came over me immediately and I heard in my heart, “My child, everything will be fine.” It was my Heavenly Father comforting me.
John 17:9 “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours”
You may or may not know this but my mom received treatment after her surgical removal of the tumor and is cancer-free today. It was a tough row to hoe but I think it was a valley God brought her through to strengthen her faith and to show her He is always there for us. Ah, the power of prayer.
These are just two examples of how stopping to pray for others when we say we will changes everything. I am not saying that if you pray you will get the answers you want that is in God’s hands, not ours. I am saying if you stop and pray as you promise that God may hear you more clearly. Your sincerity is what Jesus has taught us to show when we pray. To love one another and pray for them seems so simple and pure but it is so effective.
Psalm 17:6 “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.”
I have also learned recently that when someone texts me to pray for them I stop and text back the prayer I am saying for them. Here is an example;
I have a friend whose two sons are attempting to start new careers at this difficult time. She asks for prayers and through my text, I offered this prayer.
Heavenly Father we come to you again today to pray for your blessings for acceptance into the fire academy. Father if is it Your will, lead these young men into a stable and rewarding career. Bless (my friend) as she handles day to day struggles and her growth in Jesus’ Holy name. We love and honor you Father. Amen. It only took a few minutes to pray for them and she has the text on her phone so she can read it throughout the day.
I ask you to memorize this response and action. Know these seven words, “How may I pray for you today?”. Listen and then pray. Don’t delay, just pray. I promise you will feel more peace in your heart when you pray for others. All my love and constant prayers-LoLo
Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”