How can I pray for you?
I don’t ask this because I’m some super prayer warrior. I’m not.
This past Sunday our pastor spoke about prayer, and I know I fell into the category of people who have good intentions but know they don’t take the time to pray as regularly as they should.
Praying without ceasing is a hard order to fill.
But something I never thought much about until the last couple of years is how often God tells us in the Bible to intercede for each other. To pray for, with and over each other. To lift each other up, to bear each other’s burdens.
Isolation makes it a little hard to stay involved in each other’s lives.
And the thing is, when I talk to friends and family, I find that lots of us are really struggling.
I “attended” the annual Celebrate Recovery Summit, held online this year at the end of July. There were some statistics given about how alcohol use is up 40% since the start of COVID quarantines, drug use is up but can’t be measured accurately, pornography is being accessed 25% more.
So while each of us is doing what we need to do to survive, to provide for and protect our families, the whole world is struggling.
Which means I am. And so are you.
Because I can’t assume that everyone I know is peachy keen.
I would not be surprised to learn that people I know and love are turning to things they think will distract them at the least, and numb them at the most, to the realities of these unsure times.
We’re all human. And sometimes we don’t have a clue how to deal with our fears, our anger, our frustrations, our grief.
Speaking for myself, I could really use some prayer.
I’m thankful I have family and friends, a church family, a forever family in Celebrate Recovery that I feel comfortable asking for prayer when I’m sick or having trouble dealing with life.
I’m also thankful I had praying grandmas and parents who interceded for me from before I was born. They rarely asked me what my particular daily issues were, but I know they prayed for me. And since God is not bound by time, I believe the prayers prayed for me decades ago are still being heard by God right now.
I don’t know much about intercessory prayer by one person for another, but I know it’s important. And I’ve been trying to wrap my head around how it’s done.
My mind keeps going back to that definition I mentioned in another post, how that it’s like someone takes another’s face in their hands, looks them in the eye, and says, “You know my friend? They really need help. Will you do what you can for them?”
I know sometimes I have a problem when I pray of asking for things that really aren’t important. They may seem necessary to me at the time, whether I’m asking for me or someone else. We all would like an easy, happy life.
The movie “What about Bob?” is one of our family favorites. It’s about a man who follows his new psychiatrist on vacation, seeking help for all the things he thinks are wrong with himself.
Sometimes my prayers feel like that. I can be as inward-focused as the character Bob. One of my favorite lines comes early in the movie when he first meets his new psychiatrist and is asked to talk about his insecurities and phobias.
Bob pleads, “I want, I want, I want! I need, I need!”
Yeah, I sound a lot like that.
So sometimes when someone asks me how they can pray for me, I have to think through the things that come to my mind. Are they things I really need to be a better person, to know God more, to love others better? Or are they only things I want to make my life easier or happier?
As I explore this duty and privilege of praying for others, I wonder how much of what people request as topics of prayer are as selfish as some of mine. How do I know the difference between other people’s wants and their real needs? And will they even go deep enough to tell me what they really need?
I am blessed to have people in my care group, in my Celebrate Recovery open share group, in Bible studies, in my family, who will let me see beneath the surface of how they’d like to be seen.
Because we all have things that trouble us, that we carry deep inside, that we need to be able to share.
How else can we bear each other’s burdens if we don’t know what those burdens are?
I’ve been reading from several different sources lately the passages about how God tells us that things that are done, words that are spoken, in the dark, WILL be brought out into the light.
When I get the same scripture popping up in several ways over a short period of time, I know God is getting my attention.
So in these times when, even though I see and feel a little letting up of restrictions on staying at home and getting out to do the things we need to do, we are still basically sheltering at home. It’s been really hard for us to reach out to each other, even harder to open up those things we are holding deep in the darkness of looking like we’re okay.
Fortunately, in order to pray for each other, we don’t need to have a lot of details. God knows them all.
In fact, I think some of the most effective prayers are those where we ask God to show us how to pray for each other. Because he loves when we care enough about each other to ask. And he will bring out into the light some of those deep needs.
So I want you to know, whoever and wherever you are, that I have been coming before God when I remember to, and I’ve been asking him to answer that question:
How can I pray for you?