Ever find yourself saying this phrase to someone who has just told you they are facing something challenging… “I’ll be praying for you.”? So… do you do it? It’s an easy thing to say but what does it really look like to follow through on it?
I remember when I first went into ministry I really didn’t have a mentor… I mean I had a boss and he was a great guy but I wasn’t mentored. I was on staff at a pretty big church and I think there were 20 or so pastors on staff but I was pretty much on my own. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I remember one of the more senior guys asking if anyone had told me what to do if someone walked in to the church wanting to talk to a pastor for some help. I said no. He said the main thing is to just really affirm for them that I would be praying for them. He said it gives them incredible comfort to hear that.
So was that the purpose of telling someone I would pray for them? That telling them that would comfort them? So what to do after I tell them? Could I walk around the corner in the hall after saying it, close my eyes and say, “Father, take care of that need. Amen.”? Was my obligation fulfilled at that point? Honestly – I was confused. What was the REAL purpose and how would I honor my promise?
Depending on your personality and your level of empathy and outward expressions of love – you may find yourself not only volunteering to pray for others often – but also people approaching you and asking for your prayers. How do you manage it? How do you keep track? Or do you? Do you find a place real quick to close your eyes and fulfill your obligation? Or do you see the offer as fulfillment in knowing the person will feel comforted by the promise?
Let me tell you about me. Prior to the amazing, life changing, revolution of smart phones – I always kept a small Moleskine with me and if someone would ask me for their prayers, I would jot it down. Pretty amazing how fast I could fill one of those
hard to pronounce little journals up. The introduction of the iPhone almost completely erased my financial investment in those little books. But writing it down in my Moleskine or typing it into my iPhone is not praying. It is promising to pray. James 5:16 says the prayer of a righteous person has great power. The prayer does. Not the promise.
How we fulfill our promise of prayer is up to each of us. I believe the Holy Spirit will guide you in that personally. I have several families on my phone right now that have been there for a long time. I have some set on my phone that are set to remind me as I drive by a certain location. It pops up on my phone – “Don’t forget to pray for…” I have some that remind me to pray for me. To pray for wisdom. To pray for peace. To pray for my children. To pray for my wife.
There is power in the promise of payer but there is more power in the prayer because of who it is being offered up to. It is powerful for you to practice it and it is powerful for the person you are praying for.