How often do you write the words, “I’ll pray for you” or hit the little 🙏 icon on a social media post, only to quickly send up a, “Dear God, help Susie” prayer … and that’s the end of it?
I am pretty organized in a lot of areas of my life. But when the prayer list goes around the Connect Group at church on Sunday morning, you’d think I was playing hot potato 🥔 if you’d watch how fast I pass it onto the next person without writing a single thing down.
My mind simply goes blank in that moment because I’m not prepared to list the prayer needs of others who have asked for help in their life’s journey.
I tend to be more of a “pray as I think about it” type person than really focused intentionally on a prayer list.
For example, yesterday as I was driving through a small town in Texas where some friends of mine live, I prayed for them and what they’re going through. A bit later in the drive, I passed the home of a former colleague who’d passed away. I briefly prayed for his family.
In the process of praying while driving, a lightbulb went off. 💡 I realized in four hours I would be headed back to a prayer meeting at our church. For the fourth week in a row, I was sitting unprepared to pray for everyone I knew needed prayer. I picked up my phone and called my husband.
“We need to do better at praying for people intentionally. We need to start keeping our own prayer list, written down,” I said earnestly.
I love it when God winks at me and affirms the thoughts I have.
A few hours later, our pastor started our prayer meeting with a list of people to pray for, and we took time reading Psalm 25, praying for sections of the list, worshiping God through music, and repeating. The meeting ended with our pastor asking us to fellowship with others and “write down when you hear their prayer needs, so you can pray for them.”
It is a fairly new word in my vocabulary, but it’s not a new word in the Bible. The dictionary defines it as “the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.”
The book of 1 Kings gives a really good example of how to pray by telling the story of Solomon and his supplication.
1 Kings 9:3 reads, “And the Lord said unto him, ‘I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.’”
In 1 Kings, Solomon doesn’t pray selfishly for his own needs. Instead he asks God to give him the tools he needs so that he can be the answer to the needs of others.
As I pondered my prayer time, the story of Solomon, and how we had prayed at church, I realized the empty prayer list wasn’t the only thing missing in my prayers for others. The self-reflection for the “why” I was praying for them was also missing.
Why did I want God to help them?
The answer. Each of the people I pray for has a unique gift to serve God or a strong need that God will help them find the peace that only he can provide.
I changed my prayer pattern last night, and it made a difference I wasn’t expecting. As I took time to think about the person and reflect before asking God to intervene in their lives, I was also reminded of how absolutely special each person has been to me or to others. In supplication on the behalf of others, I found a new way to look for the positives each of them brings into the world.
“God, please help Tony recover quickly from his surgery, so that he can continue his ministry of drawing others to you.”
“God, please heal my friend Tim as he recovers from surgery so that he may continue to be a blessing and inspiration in creating a legacy of leaders for your kingdom.”
“God, please bring comfort to my friend Michele as she struggles with a sick pet. Please find a way to heal the pet, so that her heart can be fully focused on doing the job you’ve called her to do. Her calm voice has been the inspiration for many in their time of need.”
And the list went on.
My prayers aren’t perfect, but neither am I. God loves me just the same, and I thank Him for helping me grow in my knowledge of how to pray.
James 1:5-8 reads, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”