I would like to welcome Ron Hughes as a new contributor to Under the Cover of Prayer.
9 Things to Remember When Praying for People
by Ron Hughes
Most Christians are asked to pray for others from time to time. Sometimes we volunteer to do so.
How do you go about doing that?
Do you just add a line, “and dear Lord I pray for John Smith,” somewhere between “Heavenly Father…” and “…in Jesus’ name, Amen?”
I like to hear tips from others about how they improve their spiritual exercises, so I thought I’d risk sharing some of mine. We would love to hear your thoughts, too.
1) Keep a Prayer List
I’ve resorted to keeping a prayer list, which my spontaneous side thinks is mechanical, but my mechanical side knows is necessary. If you’re young with a fabulous memory, you might not need this. I’m not and I do.
2) Recall a Face
When I know the person for whom I’m praying, I take time to recall his or her face, even briefly. This little bit of effort focusses my mind better than simply speaking, or thinking, a name. On a few occasions when the Lord has brought someone to mind, but not shown me what to pray for, I simply hold that person’s face in my mind and trust the Spirit to pray through me.
3) Align Prayer with God’s Will
Sometimes, prayer requests are specific. When they are on target, it’s easy pray for them. But sometimes, the prayer request is clearly way off base—motivated by the flesh. I’ll still pray for the situation, but not hesitate to bring it into alignment with God’s stated will. On more than one occasion I’ve been asked to pray that a Christian’s unbelieving love interest would resume their relationship. No can do. Though I can pray about this person’s loneliness and the other person’s salvation. Praying contrary to the will of God has always struck me as somewhat insane.
4) Pray as Paul Prayed
Sometimes, prayer requests are vague. Recently, a man sent me a note asking me to pray for him. I phoned him and asked what he wanted prayer for. He said, “Nothing special, just pray for me.” Hmmm. In such cases, I ask the Lord to show me if there’s anything beneath the general perception of need, and until I sense some direction I pray for some of the things Paul prayed for as he thought of his friends.
5) Pray with a Sensitive Spirit
Sometimes people aren’t very in touch with spiritual realities and their perceptions may be distorted. I try to be spiritually sensitive to the person requesting prayer, recognizing that there may be issues under the surface that are the “real problem” and pray accordingly.
6) Pray for God’s Glory in the Situation
All kinds of problems come into the lives of people—illness, accidents, loss of a job or a relationship, financial hardship and so on. Naturally, their first response is for their distress to be alleviated. Ours will typically mirror theirs. However, God’s plan may be to glorify Himself, by revealing His faithfulness, or His provision, or His comfort, or something else as they pass through a time of trouble. When in doubt, pray for the glory of God to be manifested in the situation rather than just that the pain would go away (though it’s also good to pray for relief and comfort).
7) Pray Aloud When You Can
Whenever possible, I try to pray aloud. Forming words and expressing them slows me down a bit and helps me to concentrate. When I just “think” my prayers, I tend to get distracted (or drift off to sleep).
8) Be Thankful
Don’t neglect the thanksgiving which Paul tells us should accompany our supplications. By all means, bring your cares and concerns to God. Then release the one you’re praying for to Him and begin to thank Him that as He works, His intervention will bless the person you have on your heart and will glorify Him. Endlessly rehearsing someone’s misery to God and crying out for a specific outcome suggests a lack of faith in our Father, who does all things well.
9) Your Faith is in God
Remember that your faith is in God—not in what you consider to be the ideal outcome. The real power in prayer comes from aligning our will with the Father’s, not convincing Him to do ours. How God deals with a situation may not be our first choice, but it will always be the best choice.
Because prayer is such a common thing in the life of many Christians, we can fall into habits which limit our effectiveness. May I encourage you to occasionally think about prayer as a spiritual exercise as well as engaging in it. When my own prayer life gets stale, it is often because I’m neglecting to do it consciously and intentionally. Praying without ceasing may seem like a tall order, but take heart: the fervent pray of the godly is powerful.
- How Can Apostle Paul Pray for Us? (underthecoverofprayer.wordpress.com)
- Are You Praying for Your Sheep? (underthecoverofprayer.wordpress.com)
- Do I Want a Powerful Prayer Life? (underthecoverofprayer.wordpress.com)
Ron is president of FBH International , a multi-language media ministry and maintains an active itinerant speaking ministry in churches and conferences. Ron is a professional member of The Word Guild and has one published book, “Refresh: 19 ways to boost your spiritual life”, and is working on several other writing projects. Much of his writing is published on the ministry website and has been used in radio broadcasts.
Ron has been married to Debbie since 1976. They have four children, one of whom is married. They live on a 100 acre farm in the Niagara region which they share with a few horses, chickens, cats and a dog.