I’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