Have you ever heard someone say something like this, or perhaps you have said it yourself, “I don’t know what else to do, I guess I can pray for you”? Rather than being something you have to settle for, praying for someone is actually the best gift that you could ever give them.
Have you ever considered just what a privilege it is to come before a Holy God in prayer? I think sometimes we take the ability to bring our requests before God, and Him bending down to listen, for granted. Psalm 116:1-2 says:
I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.There are many aspects to prayer, and I’ve read many books on the subject of prayer. My favorite of these books is Tim Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, and I highly commend that book to you.
Over the years I’ve tended to use a printed prayer list to keep track of my prayer requests, while Paul Miller in his book A Praying Life recommends the use of a prayer card for each person you are praying for. I follow the ACTS acronym to structure my prayers, where the A stands for Adoration, the C for Confession, the T for Thanksgiving and the S for Supplication. I like this model, not only because it is easy to remember, but more so because it starts with adoration, which is a great way to start as we approach a holy God.
In this article I want to focus on supplication, which is where many of us jump right to in our prayers. Supplication is our asking or requesting something from God. An aspect of supplication prayer is intercessory prayer, which is when we get to pray for others.
We read about the first intercessory prayer in the Bible in Genesis 18. From verses 22-33, Abraham intercedes for Sodom, praying to the LORD not to destroy Sodom if there be any righteous found in the city. We all have the privilege of interceding for others in prayer. By praying for others, we are imitating Jesus who intercedes with God the Father on our behalf (John 17:9, Romans 8:34).
Here are four groups that I pray for:
Church Small Group – my wife Tammy and I are part of a wonderful small group at our church. We meet each Sunday evening to enjoy time together (fellowship), discuss that morning’s sermon and pray for each other. These are dear people that we have gotten to know well over the past few years, and it is a privilege to pray for them.
Book Club – During the last few years of my career I was part of a group that met each Friday morning to discuss a book, many of them dealing with the integration of our faith and work. That group has continued with some of the men who left our organization at the same time I did. Before COVID, we still met at 7:00 am on Friday mornings, but rather than in the workplace, it was at my favorite place for breakfast, our local Original Pancake House. In addition to fellowship and discussing our book, we also share prayer requests. It’s a privilege to pray for these dear men.
Church Prayer Chain – Years ago, prayer requests at our church were communicated via phone calls. Now, they are communicated via email. These are requests for church members, their families or their friends. It is a privilege to pray when I receive these requests.
Family and Friends – Oftentimes, it will be your family members and friends that you will best know their requests and needs. These could be your immediate and extended family members, co-workers, neighbors or longtime friends. Currently I am praying for a friend who recently lost her mother-in-law, one who recently lost her mother, the pregnancy of a family member, and for the father of a friend who has cancer. It is a privilege to pray for each of these needs.
Yes, it is a privilege to take the requests and needs of others – not only those I’ve listed above, but also our leaders, and yes, even our enemies – to our heavenly Father in prayer. Thank you for your loving listening ear.