Encouragement Skill #11


The most valuable of all gifts is the gift of prayer but it is the promise of prayer for others that leaves something to be desired.  ‘I’ll pray for you’ is often the quick go-to line when I need to make a quick exit.  It’s the believer’s equivalent to, ‘Have a nice day!’  Does everyone who says, ‘I’ll pray for you’ actually do it or is it just a cliche?

The person who needs it would be very discouraged if they knew that many who promised to pray didn’t do it.  It’s a good thing Jesus prays for us continually.  We are never in a position where we have no one talking to the Father about us.  Jesus sits at His Father’s side at this very moment and is praying for each of us with great detail, with sensitivity, and with divine knowledge.

How valuable is prayer?  The night of Jesus’ arrest, He showed us.  When He was preparing to say goodbye to His disciples for good, He broke into the longest prayer in the Bible.  (John 17)  It’s so weighty that I could spend years meditating on it and not scratch the surface. When my prayers sound like, “Jesus, please be near them and bless them”, I realize these are okay but at some point, there should be more content.  I must be in the Word so that I have food from my own reservoir to give to others.  Scripture fuels my prayers with substance and fire.

Guidelines are helpful. Here are a few from personal experience and from hanging around other intercessors.

  • Ask the one you are praying for, ‘What is it you need from God?’  Listen before praying.  It should never be guesswork.
  • Ask God to lead you to the right scriptures to undergird your prayers.  Put their names in the passage.
  • Write a note and share the scriptures directly with them. They will not only feel the strength but feel the love in the effort.
  • If possible, and if they’re open, offer to pray for them in person.  This is best!  Pray their story. Let them hear you verbalize to God why they need prayer and what they’re feeling.  Be sure to end your prayers with God’s promises!
  • Say their name throughout the prayer and if the relationship warrants it, touch them.  Hold their hand, put your hand on their arm or shoulder.  This is the only tenderness some will ever experience.

Finally, I am often curious enough to ask the one who has asked me to pray for them, if they are also praying for themselves.  It’s easy to peg someone else as the spiritual guru who will do what I’m too lazy to do for myself.  I may pose a similar question to someone who continually asks me for advice.  I’ll inquire, “What is God telling you about it?”  Corrie Ten Boom quote ~  “Dear Jesus…how foolish of me to have called for human help when You are here.”  

Lord, You know that effective prayer takes time. I give you the time I’ll spend praying today. How should I invest it?  I’m a steward of my days and I need help knowing whose spiritual soil is tilled and ready.  Amen

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