Category Archives: Prayer

“I’ll Pray For You” And Other Lies We Tell

This past week I had an opportunity to pray with a friend. The two of us gathered with another brother in Christ and we spent time before the Lord. In the course of that time we lifted him up before our heavenly Father and just tried to encourage him and remind him of who is in Jesus. There is nothing better than speaking truth to another because in the end we are speaking truth to ourselves. However, something happened as we wrapped up our time together that I could not have anticipated. My friend, let’s call him Rafael, said something that just blew me away. Rafael looked at us and said, “Thank you for being my words.”

OK, I have to be honest, I did not know what to make of that statement. I was shocked by it. It had never occurred to me that when I pray for someone I would actually be praying for them. That the person that I am praying for would use my words for their prayer to God. That as I spoke, they were speaking. Not until that moment this past week have I ever understood the power of interceding for another, nor my own failure to follow through when I offered to pray for someone.

I have said, “I’ll pray for you,” and “I’m praying for you,” and just offered one prayer right then because I was thinking about it, but forget about them and their situation until I see them again. Or, “You should pray about that,” and I do not even offer to pray for them right there. Prayer is not our way of feeling better about ourselves or what’s going on around us. Prayer has become therapy rather than trembling; at outlet rather than an opportunity to engage God and allow Him to speak. I wonder sometimes if we see prayer as an option rather than as an act of surrender. Rafael needed someone else to speak for him. His heart had feelings and thoughts that were held captive by pain and confusion; issues that I and the other brother did not have. Look around you. What friend, neighbor, family member needs your help in expressing what they are feeling, but are unable to articulate? I found the following quote by Richard Foster as I was looking for pictures related to prayer.

Intercession is a way of loving others. - Richard J. Foster

Does this reflect your view of intercessory prayer? I cannot say this was me before this event. However, I have found myself praying more this week. Not just because I need to because I do. I find myself praying for those that I have promised or offered to pray for, but have not done so like I should. I have come to realize that when I intercede I am standing in the place of another. The word “inter-cede” literally means to surrender for another. I have not been doing that like I should.

If you read my random ruminations would you pray for me? I desire to be more consistent and faithful to walking and talking with my Lord and Savior Jesus, my heavenly Father, and the great helper, the Holy Spirit. I need to surrender more and more in this area and I need your help.

Prayers Purpose: What Prayer Actually Changes

Over the course of my life I have heard people say, “Prayer changes things.” I have to agree. I believe that. The question that has often lingered in my mind though is this: What exactly is being changed? It is very easy to say that prayer changes things, but when you do not know what is being changed how can we benefit.

Because of my pastor’s emphasis on prayer in his current sermon series, I have found myself thinking on this subject regularly. As much as I would like to think that I pray as I should, I know it is not the case. As Pastor David was preaching this past week I wrote down this simple phrase.

Prayer is about Preparation

As I have thought about this over the last several days I have found that prayer does change things. What I have failed to realize is the changes serve a greater purpose than I have ever understood. There are at least three individuals or groups that are changed as we pray. I would like to look at each one of these in order.

1. The Person Praying Needs to be Prepared

Prayer prepares me for what God will do. Whenever I fail to pray through an issue with God I am missing out on what I will need to receive and use what God sends to me when he answers. If there is any one person that needs to change as a result of prayer it is me. One of the most confounding realities that James writes about is the fact that prayers go unanswered, not because God does not what to answer them, but because we are asking for things that do no conform to the plans and purposes of God. When we pray amiss, what we are doing is asking God to accept our petitions as his own. We want God to approve of what we have been doing, instead of asking God to allow us into what he is doing. Continue reading Prayers Purpose: What Prayer Actually Changes

UPDATED: How Long Is Long Enough?

This post was updated on June 13

Pray Hard

This past week my pastor continued teaching on prayer in the The Circle Maker Series. The subject of this weeks message was “Praying Hard.” The story that he used was that of the persistent widow in Luke 18. The story tells how a widow seeking justice pestered a judge until he caved into the requests of the woman, just to get her off his back. It is an interesting story because she did not wait until her appointed court day. She continued to seek after the judge. The twist in the story is that this is not seen as inappropriate. Jesus seems to imply that God desires this kind of tenacity and stubbornness. Continue reading UPDATED: How Long Is Long Enough?

Are My Prayer’s Big Enough?

My pastor, Pastor David, started a series on the book The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. Batterson is the pastor of National Community Church is Washington, D.C.

The heart of the message on Sunday looked at the legend of The Circle Maker a man named Honi ha-M’agel. The story of Honi (“hoe-knee”) revolves around an event where he drew a circle with his staff and prayed that God would send rain to help put an end to the drought that was ravaging the land.

On one occasion when God did not send rain well into the winter (in the geographic regions of Israel, it rains mainly in the winter), he drew a circle in the dust, stood inside it, and informed God that he would not move until it rained. When it began to drizzle, Honi told God that he was not satisfied and expected more rain; it then began to pour. He explained that he wanted a calm rain, at which point the rain calmed to a normal rain.

He was almost put into cherem (excommunication) for the above incident in which he showed “dishonor” to God. However, Shimon ben Shetach, the brother of Queen Shlomtzion, excused him, saying that he was Honi and had a special relationship with God. [Source]

The impression that I was left with after the story was that this was a very brash and ostentatious way of praying. I do not think that I have ever, in my life, talked to God that way. And that is exactly what we learn from Honi. Honi was not demanding for God answer to him, but that God was more than capable to do what no one else could. That is a very different way of thinking about prayer and why we pray. We have to believe that God can do what he promises because if we do not, then what are we doing praying at all?

Pastor David challenged us to realize that we were not praying bold enough if we are praying for things that we can accomplish on our own, in our own strength. I have heard this often in the church. I get it. It is a challenge to trust God more and more. But, do you know what really struck me as I was listening to Pastor David? What about me? Am I praying that God would conform me into the image of Jesus? Am I praying that God would change my heart, mind, attitudes, emotions and values?

You see, one of the dangers of praying for “BIG” things is that the biggest thing gets overlooked because “I have it under control.” This is a terrible mistake. I can not change who I am, save myself, or even guarantee the next moment of my life, and we want to pray boldly about “big” things. What could be bigger than being the person that Jesus died for us to be?

Pastor David was right, my prayers are not big and bold enough. But, I left with the impression that the subject of those prayers, at least for me, is not those “big” things “out there,” but the big things inside my own heart. I know that this is my tendency, to look inside rather than out. What I have realized is that I want to be the person that prays bigger and bolder prayers because I do believe that God WILL, not just another a person who prays big prayers because I think God CAN.