Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
“Pray for Me”
By Phil Miglioratti
“Pray for me.” Driving home from preaching at a Sunday worship service, thinking about the next sermon I would present to the congregation a few weeks later, these words shot across my mind. “Pray for me.” None other than the apostle Paul, asking Christians in Ephesus (6:19) to pray for him. Those three words immediately became the text of my next sermon.
Certainly the scriptures contain these words because yet two thousand years later, the Church needs to hear and heed his appeal. It is the appeal of the Holy Spirit to remind us to “pray for one another so that you may be healed” (James 5:16) and “too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ” (Colossian 4:3).
As daily life becomes more stressful and as families struggle to survive or even merely to function, members of the Body of Christ need to be schooled and skilled in responding to this sometime agonizing plea; “pray for me.” In increasing measure, even the most veteran Christ-followers are in need of prayer that results in physical healing, an emotional strengthening of hope, or a practical blessing of help. We must hear this appeal when listening to the “how are you?” responses from the newest believer to the most revered servant leader. No one is immune from the trials and troubles of life. As the apostle said, “always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).
“Pray for me” praying, is the ability to enter into the pressures and problems of the simplest personal story with “powerful and effective” prayers (James 5:16). For our peers. Youth or a child in distress. Fracturing families. Weary leaders . Praying for them like Epaphras, “always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. (Colosians 4:12).
“Pray for me” is a call, sometimes a cry, for help that we must respond to by praying beyond temporal circumstances toward a deepening discipleship in the life of the person we pray for. So that. So that they stand strong, unmovable in their faith in God’s good will no matter what swirls around them, mature in their response to even an evil enemy, and fully assured “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
“Pray for me” is also a trumpet blast for the Gospel; a call to advance the message of Christ into the lives of neighbors and neighborhoods, near and far.
The apostle issued his request for intercession so “that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19. In other words, pray for me so that I have opportunities to witness to the salvation God presents in Jesus our Lord.
“Pray for me” is both reactive and proactive. Reactive, when we petition the Lord on behalf of another as a response to the defeats and dis-eases that have inflicted them. Proactive, when we pray toward a future of new opportunities to advance the life-transforming message of our Savior.
Sadly, the standard “pray for me” prayer so many of us offer is inadequate. The enemy we battle calls for a strategy that is more scriptural and more spiritual. Merely praying louder or longer will not bring victory. This three-word plea needs a three-letter strategy: A-s-k.
For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:8
The Lord has instructed us to ask. Paul told us “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, (to) present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Our problem is not that we refuse or fail to ask. Our weakness is that in asking, we begin with conclusions rather than starting with questions. We mostly tell God information he already knows (he is omniscient, remember?) and conclude with solutions we have determined are best in each case. And, sometimes God’s grace gives us what we want, when we want it, in the way we want it. Sometimes.
Asking that begins with questions takes longer. Requires listening. Even learning. Sounds like, well, the teaching of our Lord in Matthew 7:8. He told us to ask and to seek. Asking-by-telling has no need of seeking, other than to wait for the response we have outlined in our prayer instructions to the Almighty. But asking-by-questioning is a radically different approach. After all, when you ask a question, the sensible thing to do is to be still, even silent, so you can hear the answer and discern next steps.
For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds;
and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened. Matthew 7:8 Amplified
So, when someone asks you to “pray for me,” don’t. Not until you have asked a few questions. Not until the asking of questions shifts your prayers from your best thoughts and wishes to discerning what is in the Father’s heart (2 Thessalonians 3:5), the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), and the ministry of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:8).
So, when someone asks you to pray for them, first ask . . .
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Matthew 21:22
Ask. Questions, that is.
Seek. Stop, be silent, search scripture.
Knock . When you know you’ve heard the will of God, then knock the door down!a