Have you ever had someone ask you, “Please put her on your prayer list”, or “Please pray for xxxx who is having surgery on Tuesday”. Or, have you said to someone, “I’ll be praying for you”, or when asked if you will pray have you said, “I will”….and then not do it? I have more than a few times. It is done almost always with the best intentions, but, if we tell someone we will do something we should do it.
Here are some suggestions about intercessory prayers that have been helpful to me and might be to you.
Whenever possible pray when asked or as quickly as you can. I learned this valuable from Dr. John R Rice in the early 1970’s. I had heard him speak in a large auditorium in Atlanta and I was one in a long line to speak to him after his message. I had a prayer concern that at the time was very important to me. I quickly in a sentence or two told him my concern. He surprised my by laying his hand on my shoulder and praying a simple, to the point prayer, in two or three sentences, wished me well and was on to the next person in line to greet him. Again and again since that day I have prayed with people who have asked me when they asked, in a tire store, a hospital hallway, or before Sunday school, it is the easiest way to not forget.
And, if I can’t pray with the person right on the spot I will often breathe a prayer for their concern once I walk away. Then, if God brings it to my heart and mind later I might pray again, and again. This practice has helped me to avoid saying I will and then failing to do so.
I think most of us would have much more time for prayer and for other things if we would just ask what we want and leave off much of the extras. Saying in a prayer “Lord you know…” and then talking for 10 minutes telling God what He already knows is not very helpful in most cases. I really doubt that God wants a few minutes added to the beginning and ending of our requests where we present a brief presentation of the theology of God done in King James language. God knows us! We don’t need to bring him up to date on any current or future event.
Bible prayers were always asking. Thanksgiving goes will with prayer, and we should always be thankful, but being thankful isn’t prayer. It is an addition to prayer. And so it is with everything we tell God. It is good and right to tell God how we adore him and love him and appreciate what He has done for us. But when it’s time to pray for a particular need, just go to him and ask. He again, and again, and again invites us to do just that.
PRAY ONLY TO GOD
This might seem like a foolish thing to say but it really isn’t. Pray only to God and not to the person who is listening. I have done it and you have done it. For sure we are blessed and encouraged and helped and edified listening to others pray. However, our prayers should be directed only to God.
A proud grandfather asked his small grand daughter to pray before the evening meal. She mumbled something and said Amen and started after the mashed potatoes. He said to her “I couldn’t hear a thing you said!” She replied “I wasn’t talking to you.” Lesson learned! She was taking to God not the people at the table.
Far too often our public prayers are mostly to those listening and not to God. I suggest that our public prayers should be short and pointed, asking for something specific and expecting an answer. Prayers that take 2 to 5 minutes and ask for little and expect nothing are not useful and I think probably not very pleasing to God.
Above everything else PRAY! Don’t miss out on the some of the unmatched blessings of knowing that God has heard and answered your specific prayers. God is delighted to to things for his children. He will always do what is good and best for his own. He has promised to care for our necessities but oh how he want us to come daily in prayer to ask for “daily bread”. He doesn’t want us to ask for a week but to come daily to him with our needs.
I can never be thankful enough for my dear mother, who is now with the Lord, who taught me by example how to pray and get answers from God. I only heard he pray in public a few times before a meal. But she delighted to tell me and others of how kind God was to give her the smallest requests in answer to prayer. I never have known anyone personally other than mom’s brother Bill Wheeler who had such a rich prayer life with regular answers routine.
Just ask and see that the Lord is faithful.