Prayer Requests

praying_guy-429125-mI’ve been in a number of situations where I had the opportunity to ask for prayer requests—as in, “I want to pray for you; tell me what you want me to pray about.” For whatever reason, the majority of the requests had to do with health, if not for the individual himself, then someone he knew.

I’m not opposed to praying for someone’s health. I do so frequently. The thing is, when we’re asking God to intervene on someone’s behalf to restore their health, we have no idea what God is doing in or through them because of the health crisis they’re in. So prayer for health generally becomes a prayer declaring God’s power and ability to heal and a request that He do so if it is His will.

I don’t know how else to pray for someone’s health issues. There are side topics—like wisdom for the health care providers, especially the doctors making decisions and performing procedures and running tests; for money to pay for everything; for the logistics of getting to and from doctor’s appointments; that sort of thing.

In the end, though, health issues can sometimes be the easy kind of prayer request. Instead of dealing with the tough stuff—relational issues or spiritual, things that God’s Word speaks to—we deliver our health requests.

The thing is, God wants us to pray according to His will. When a matter of concern deals with an issue addressed in the Bible, it’s easy to pray what Scripture says. That’s a sure way of praying according to God’s will.

So I can pray for missionaries to speak the truth in love or that their hearts will be encouraged or that God will open up a door for them to speak forth the mystery of Christ, or any number of other things with some assurance that these things taken from God’s word are consistent with His will.

However, I also like praying for specific needs. One missionary family I’ve prayed for is especially good in giving specifics—number of contacts, particular people who have not accepted Christ, logistics in relocating or traveling, the start of new endeavors, saying good-bye to old friends. Praying for these people really involves me in their ministry.

Too often it seems as if the only people who ask for prayer are missionaries. We might also pray with the people in our Bible study, but in my experience those are some of the requests that get pigeon-holed as health requests.

One Bible study I was in was so cool because it tied our prayer for each other with our study. We finished our study each week with a personal application—something specific and measurable—and that turned into the prayer request which the group then prayed for us during the prayer time and throughout the coming week.

I’m thinking about prayer requests because I’m thinking about prayer meetings and how so many of them have died. We have family fun nights and youth group and yes, Bible studies. I’m all in favor of each of those, but I wonder if we shouldn’t do more about prayer.

My church has a prayer room that’s open after each service and there is a prayer team that will pray for people if they have requests. But what I’m thinking is that prayer should not be something that the “team” does but something the congregation does.

Honestly, I can’t remember the last sermon I heard about prayer, both at my church or on the radio. Granted, I don’t have the best memory, but still . . . You’d think there would be some awareness that a pastor had preached on the subject at least.

Too often I think we’ve put prayer up there with 9-1-1 calls—ask for prayer when all else has failed and we’re at our rope’s end, when we’ve tried everything else and we’re frankly desperate.

I’m trying to learn to reverse that thinking. Prayer is the most powerful recourse we have. I mean, if God Almighty, who has no limits, to His power or love or goodness, gets involved, what more could we hope for? So really, praying is doing the best, most helpful thing possible. It should be my first thought, not my last option

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Published in: on February 25, 2015 at 6:22 pm  Comments (11)  
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11 Comments

  1. Fabulous post! Thank you. I am also in a prayer group that I get via email. Such sad stories. Most of the people pray for a job. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • M E, there certainly times when people need prayer for physical needs. It’s only a problem when those are sort of manufactured to keep from addressing spiritual or relational needs. Or any other kind. As one of the other commenters said, these physical things can be used to avoid the real issues. Anyway, thank you for entering the discussion and for your feedback.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Becky. So sorry for the delayed response. I have been swamped with so much to do and haven’t even started my spring planting yet.
        Yes, many prayers are manufactured. However, in today’s times, there are so many in need. My prayers are for the future generations and a peaceful world to live in.

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  2. Great post! Prayer is powerful and it’s far more complex then simply praying for relief from our health challenges. I joked about that once, a church I visited spent half an hour listing everyone’s physical ailments and by the time we got to somebody’s aunts corns, I came very close to shrieking, “doesn’t anyone here have any mental health issues, a few spiritual needs, because I have enough of those for all of us!”

    The truth of the matter is, people are far more comfortable talking about health problems, because those are things we bear little or no responsibility for. All the other aspects of ourselves require a bit more humility and risk of exposing our vulnerability and flaws. So asking for people to pray that God teaches you be less judgmental of others, is simply not done very often. The problem there is that often our physical ailments do have a spiritual aspect to them, certainly things that aggravate our health, so we do ourselves a disservice.

    That kind of prayer usually happens better in small groups where people have developed some trust and it can be really powerful.

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    • The truth of the matter is, people are far more comfortable talking about health problems

      That’s it exactly. But I hadn’t connected the dots to the reason behind this. Great insight that our not bearing responsibility makes us more willing to admit health issues. Wow! Makes so much sense. And of course you’re right that we do bear much more responsibility for our health issues that we may realize.

      And you’re right that building trust is one requirement if we are to pray for the greater needs of our hearts. But I don’t think NOT having prayer meetings is the way to build that trust. 😉

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You didn’t say what you thought about unanswered prayer, Rebecca. BTW: I just heard Dr. Charles Stanley preach on prayer, via my car radio.

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    • Russ, you’re right. That’s a topic for another day, though I did talk about it in the post I linked to.

      Becky

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  4. Very well put…

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  5. When you’re in a health crisis you have a hard time focusing on other things. When you’re in a financial crisis you have a hard time focusing on other things. When you’ve got a child who has left the fold you have a hard time focusing on other things. So I think there are seasons. And I think the Psalms show that. David often prays for protection from his enemies, when he’s hiding in caves and being hunted. He prays for health. He prays for wealth. He prays for forgiveness of sin. All of it should be given to God.

    I agree, though, that it seems that physical health is more often listed than other requests. And it kind of makes me wonder why we’re all so sick. In Proverbs we’re told that fear of the Lord is health to the bones.

    Hmmm

    I also ponder, every time I read it, Blind Bartimaeus and his answer to Jesus. Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

    I often think, “if God asked me what I wanted, what would my answer be? I want to be a doorkeeper in your house? I want my children to be saved? I want my brothers and sisters to be saved? I want my friends to be saved? I want my enemies to be saved? I want no more rape and murder?”

    There seem to be so many things more important than physical sight. But Jesus was pleased to give Bartimaeus his sight, it seems. And I imagine Bartimaeus was able to glorify God for that.

    In the end I’m pretty happy that we don’t get just one request. We can ask God for the big things and the little things and all the things in between. You are right on here–we should be praying way more than we are. For physical health, sure. We are told to minister to the ill and the imprisoned. But we should also be praying for so many other things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You make a good point, Sally, that often our crises dominate our thinking. But I think that’s part of leaving the situation in God’s hands. If I think I have something I need to be doing, I’m more apt to have my focus on the matter. Or if there’s pain or discomfort involved. It’s hard to not think about health when there’s this constant reminder. I’ve tried in the past (not always successfully) to use those occasions as opportunities to thank God that He is trustworthy and knows what’s best. I wish I were more consistent with that.

      Interesting thoughts about Bartimaeus’s story. I’ve always found it remarkable that Jesus asked him what he wanted. It seems so abundantly clear that someone who can’t see would want to see, especially someone who has been reduced to begging because he can’t work. But this exchange reinforces the fact that God wants to involve us in His work and that He wants us to bring our needs to Him. Yes, even physical needs. Just not exclusively physical needs. 😉

      Becky

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