You’ve done it, too. “You bet I’ll pray for ya; count on that!” Eleven days later you’re slouched in your fav old ratty sweatpants and tee, semi-watching Wheel of Fortune after an exhausting day and mentally smack your brain’s forehead: “Aw, man . . .”
Sometimes I don’t know what to pray when I think of you.
Not praying for you isn’t an option. What to do?
Find one of Paul’s prayers and use it as a template . . .
“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit–not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength–that Christ will live in you as you open(s) the door and invite(s) him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know–far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
That one’s from Ephesians 3, one of my favorites. Just adapt it by inserting the person’s name for whom you said you’d pray.
“Well, but that doesn’t exactly fit what they asked me to pray about, so I dunno . . .”
Clue: you could pray Ephesians 3:14 – 20 for me any day, every day, and it’ll fit anything in my experience. Seriously. I’ll take it. Pray it for me. Every day. I want you to!
“Okay, wait. That’d mean I’m praying every day, and, um– well . . .”
You’re saying that like it’s a bad thing.
A praying habit is the single most advantageous thing you could be doing in this life. You can do more after you’ve prayed, but you can’t do much of anything until you’ve prayed. You don’t often know for what to pray regarding somebody else. You know what they say they need you to pray about–yet you don’t have it all.
But God knows all the details
There are always personal things, not-so-little details that we don’t feel comfortable sharing with any but the most intimate friends–if they even get to know the real deal.
But God knows all the details – even those none of us do. Yeah–including the one seeking the prayer cover from others.
So, yeah. No problem. You can be praying this for me every day.
Seriously. I’ll take it.
“God? Um, hi, I’m– oh, right-right. You know who I am. Well, I ask You to strengthen Dan by Your Spirit–not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength–that Christ will live in Dan as he opens the door and invites You in. And I ask You, God, that with both feet planted firmly on love, Dan’ll be able to take in with all Christians–yeah, me, too!–the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Help Dan reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! God, help Dan today live a full life, full in the fullness of God. God, you can do anything, I know–far more than Dan could ever imagine or guess or request in his wildest dreams! You do it not by pushing Dan around but by working within him, your Spirit deeply and gently within ‘im. So–yeah. Jesus’s name. Amen.”
Hey. All I’m saying here is that you get serious about it. When you say you’re going to pray for somebody, here are two tips that’ll help you keep your word.
1. If time and surroundings allow, stop right there, put your hand on your friend’s shoulder and pray specifically for the need they bring to you. It’ll help you remember why they asked you to pray.
2. Then say, “As often as God brings your name and face across my mind, I’ll be praying with and for you about this. Be sure to let me know when He answers.”
And if you forget what to pray? Don’t get down on yourself. Go find one of Paul’s prayers like the one I just mentioned. Or use a Psalm the same way.
Just don’t quit.
Praying doesn’t necessarily change things because God’s the one who knows best where, how and through whom to answer. But I assure you of this . . .
Praying does change you.
© D. Dean Boone, August 2015