Praying For Others
How many times has someone shared a personal prayer request with you only for you to walk away afterward and totally forget about the whole ordeal? This probably happens more often than we would like to admit. We are called in Ephesians 6:18 to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and to “make supplication for the saints”. But how can we most effectively do that? Here are four keys to help us make supplication for our fellow Christ followers, especially when they specifically ask us to pray for them.
After someone shares a personal prayer request with you:
1. Pray right then, right there.
If at all possible, pray out loud for the person right there on the spot. There is something overtly powerful about hearing your brother or sister in Christ pray for you. It is an action that carries a lot of weight with it, because the person knows you aren’t just saying you are going to pray for them – you are actually doing it. On top of that, it reiterates in your mind the prayer request itself, which will help you to remember what is going on in the life of the person. Which leads to #2…
2. Record the request.
As soon as you possibly can, write down the name of the person and their request so that you don’t forget the details or the person you are supposed to pray for! I don’t know how many times I’ve done #1 above, but then forgotten all of it because I didn’t write it down. It’s as simple as pulling out your phone and typing out the details on a note app. You could send yourself an email with the information. You could even carry around a very small pocket notebook just for prayer requests. This would allow you to keep a running prayer list, plus you can pull it out whenever you have spare time and pray over your list. Which leads to #3…
3. Follow through, then follow up.
Follow through with your promise to pray for the person for the next week or two. If the request is not time sensitive and a week or two has passed, follow up with a call, email or text message letting them know you’ve continued to pray for them. You can also ask them if there is an update or any new way you can be praying. If the request is time sensitive and you’ve recorded the details well (remember #2?), be sure to follow up appropriately. For example, if someone asks you to pray for their upcoming surgery that is to occur next Tuesday, contact them the day after to see how things went.
4. Don’t lie.
This one seems so obvious, and maybe it should actually be #1. After all, we know that we are supposed to be truthful in our words and actions as Christ followers. But how many times have we told someone we’d pray for them, knowing full well that we have no intention of doing so? We must fight the urge to say what is expedient in the moment. If you have no intention of praying for the person, do not tell them you are going to. This is a lie both to that person and to the Holy Spirit. While the person may not ever know whether or not you were being truthful, God does know, and he is grieved by that mistruth.
Like many things, this whole subject comes down to being intentional and caring enough about others that we actually put them before ourselves. So many times, we are in a hurry or just don’t care enough to listen intently to the person. Instead, we cloak ourselves with a holy “I’ll be praying for you” because we think it makes the person feel better. In reality, the best thing that we can do for that person is to actually intercede on their behalf.