OFFERING PRAYERS

calico asterAlso, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants. [Romans 8:26-27 (NCV)]

In yesterday’s message, I wrote that a friend prays and yet I’m amazed how rarely that actually happens. Yes, a friend may pray for someone but how often do we, as friends, pray with that someone? Twice when visiting someone in hospital, a chaplain has dropped in to visit. Twice, the chaplain spoke briefly with us and then turned to leave without offering a prayer. Twice, I was the one who asked for prayer—one time for a prayer of thanksgiving and the other for one of strength and healing. Afterwards, I wondered why these hospital chaplains didn’t offer to pray with us. Isn’t prayer part of their job? As I started to point my finger, I saw three fingers pointing back at me and had to admit that I’m not one for offering spur-of-the-moment prayers either. I asked God not to allow me to leave a prayer unoffered or unsaid.

Last month, shortly after the second hospital incident, I was talking with a recently widowed friend. A trip with flowers to the cemetery had left her sad and teary-eyed. We hugged as I departed. I’d only taken a few steps toward my car when the Holy Spirit convicted me: “Here’s your opportunity—pray with her!” I turned back to my friend, held her hands and lifted her needs up to the Lord. I wasn’t eloquent and couldn’t remember any Bible verses; whatever I said was unremarkable, but that didn’t matter. The Holy Spirit knew my friend’s needs and lifted our prayers heavenward.

I’m a writer, not a prayer warrior, and offering prayer  is way out of my comfort zone. My comfort, however, is not high on God’s priority list. Last week, while taking pictures in the park before worship service, I stopped to chat with a young woman who’s started attending our church. I know little about her except that she’s new to the area, belongs to a friendly Dalmatian, and is job hunting. As I stooped to get a photo of her dog, I asked how the job search was going. Answering that she’d not gotten the job for which she applied, I replied with a few encouraging words. When I stepped away to continue taking pictures, I realized my work was not done. Turning back, I asked, “Can we pray?” We held hands and I offered a quick prayer that God would lead this lovely woman to the right job opening. There was nothing memorable or eloquent about my words; they were, however, heartfelt and sincere.

It’s easy to say, “I’ll pray for you,” but a bit harder to actually do it. For many of us, it’s even harder to pray with someone right then and there, but isn’t that what all Christians (not just hospital chaplains) should do?  The sincere agreement of two believers in prayer is powerful and effective because the Holy Spirit is with them, guiding their requests. Our prayers don’t have to be eloquent or deeply profound; they just have to be said.

Rich is the person who has a praying friend. [Janice Hughes]

Also, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about something and pray for it, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  This is true because if two or three people come together in my name, I am there with them. [Matthew 18:19-20 (NCV)]

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