When I started to walk with Christ in my mid-late twenties, I truly was learning to do some things for the first time. I did my best to consider practical ways to move forward with the new basic commitments of being a Christ follower. For example, I read the entire Bible, one chunk at a time (definitely used the YouVersion Bible app narrated voice feature to make it through some of the slower sections). I was already going to some mens’ fellowship meetings, and this was keeping my mind on becoming the best man I could be, and teaching me to be open about my struggles within that trusted group.
And I began to listen carefully as the men in that group would pray. I listened to how they spoke to God, the tone they used with him, what they prayed about, who they prayed about, how they made their requests and their thanksgiving. It was a lot to consider, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever learn to do it like them. But there was one thing I realized. I had better learn to start praying with others, especially my girlfriend at the time (who is now my beautiful wife).
After listening to lots of praying by others, and being prayed for a lot, I asked God himself to help me understand prayer, and how to do it with others in my life. Mattie and I were raking leaves together in her backyard one day, and I pushed aside the butterflies in my stomach, and blurted out that I wanted to pray with her. She looks back on it with good humor 🙂 She says she remembered thinking, “uh, and now we’re praying!” So apparently I didn’t know how to get into it smoothly, but I think her reaction spoke just as much to the fact that it was very new for her as well. It was a wonderful experience, even though I felt like a total newbie. I didn’t have any shame, even though I was awkward and nervous. I was nervous because I knew that I was starting a new habit for us that could really set the pattern for our future. A couple without prayer, or a couple with prayer. I had screwed things up enough that I decided it would be wise to get all the help and blessings I could invite upon us. Over the last 7 years or so since then, I have become even more serious about prayer, but also more lighthearted as I relax and get used to it, and benefit from the joy of praying.
So, to move into the practical part of this blog post, what good can prayer do for you, and how do you even begin to use it with others?
- Pray about people to those people.
God is proud of all of his sons and daughters, and a proud father loves to brag. I began to make sure when I prayed with others that I would thank the Father for them and how awesome they are, and name some specific things that I think he loves about them. So I encourage you to try it: brag about someone in front of them by talking to God about them. You can’t imagine how cool and fun and meaningful this is until you try it. Yes, you will feel weird or silly, and you won’t exactly know what to say. Let God teach you what he loves most about the people around you, and most of all make it genuine. The fact is that many people can’t remember the last time someone bragged on them, and we all need affirmation. What better way to build someone up than to praise them in front of their maker?
2. Ask God to show up
Scripture says that much good comes from the intense prayer of a righteous man. And if it’s done in a spirit of respect, God doesn’t mind being asked to come through. In faith, you can remind him of his promises and ask him to carry out his will, or reveal what he has in mind for someone. Jeremiah 29:11 says the Lord has a plan for each of us, to prosper us and not to harm us. Sometimes people are suffering from feeling alone and lost. Asking God to act in the midst of someone’s low point can motivate them greatly, and it’s partly because it simply shows that you care about them. A warning about God’s reply to prayer, though, is that he may not respond in the amount of time you want him to, and he may not respond with something you like. He will never contradict what he has already said in scripture, or do something that’s outside of his will and character.
I really hope this has added some value to you and taken away any wariness you feel about having a prayer life that includes others. If you start to pray with other people, you may be surprised by how much it blesses both of you.
Here’s To Your Greatness,