During the last few weeks, I have heard several times, “Please pray for me,” Most of us, reply with, “Of course…or …yes.” And I believe that most of us do say at least one prayer for that person. We might include their name in our evening prayer, or we might spit out a hurried prayer as we carry on with our lives.
Today, I remind you that Prayer is a gift of love. When I give a gift, I want my gift to be the best possible gift I can give. What makes our prayer the best possible?
- Ask for details. Who are you to pray for? What is needed?
- Give details. “Of course, I’ll pray for you tonight before sleep or every morning for the coming week, at church on Sunday.”
- Offer to pray right now.
- Find a private spot, join hands and talk with God.
Number three, “Offer to pray right now,” is the hardest. Most of us are afraid to pray out loud. We want to get it right. What if we say something that…offends God?…offends the person…What if someone else hears and is critical or offended…What if I don’t get it right… I don’t know the right words.” For many today, praying is scary, especially if someone else is going to hear our prayer.
Over the years, I have been thanked for my prayers, or told that I’m good at praying. “What a lovely prayer” is a common statement. “Thank you. I needed that.” Yes, I am a minister. Yes, the assumption is that I can do this, and do it better than most “ordinary” people, whatever that means. This assumption is wrong. What I can do is talk with God. Over the years, I have learned that prayer is a conversation with God. All I need to do is focus on God, and just let the words pour out of my heart. God’s Spirit will take care of the rest. That’s the secret to public prayer. When we let go of worrying about what someone else is thinking of our prayer, and we just talk with God, our prayer becomes a gift of love. We actually can say, “Would you like me to pray with you right now?” because if the person says, “Yes,” we can do it.
“The spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit…intercedes for us…” Romans 8:26