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“Pray for Me”

By Phil Miglioratti                                                                               Pray.Network

“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. (Colossians 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 . . .

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to pray through you (Romans 8:26) ... Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you (Ephesians 5:18) (“let the Spirit stimulate your soul” Phillips) then seek (yield) to his leading
  • Ask the person for a brief description of the who-what-where-when-why of their presenting-problem ... then ask (and listen) to them answer “how” they see/sense/discern God’s presence/ purposes in the midst of the circumstances they are asking you to pray about
  • ... this may be an opportunity to ask them to pray from the insights they have just shared with you because it may be the first time they have allowed the Lord to reveal his presence and promises in the midst of their problem
  • ... as they pray, ask the Spirit to give you insight into how to respond; pray from something they said? Share a scripture? Ask them what they heard from the Lord as they were praying?
  • Ask others to join you in prayer. It may be appropriate to invite one or a few other persons to join you in a prayer circle for the person who asked for prayer. Ask first for that person’s permission, explaining this is like hearing in stereo when several listen and discern at the same time.
  • Ask both trusted veteran intercessors as well as someone who needs deeper discipling in prayer (this will become a learning lab for them).
  • Ask for feedback. After prayer (yours, the persons you have invited to pray with you for this friend, or after the person requesting prayer has said a prayer), ask a simple, wide-open question: “Have you (has anyone) received a scripture verse or a thought we might consider for further praying?” If someone shares, simply go back to asking the Holy Spirit for leading, guiding, focusing.
  • Ask the person receiving prayer to update you about the issue but make the commitment to reach out if they do not give you a timely reply.

 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!

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To help you reimagine...

  • As you were reading, did this seem more relevant to you personally or to your role as a leader or change agent?
  • Where do you agree? Disagree - and why?
  • What did you read that resonates with the leading/guiding you have sensed recently from the Holy Spirit?
  • How can you move from analysis to application to implementation?
  • Who do you need to talk with about the ideas you have encountered here?
  • Finish this sentence: "Jesus . . .

Lord God,

We knock on Your door, Heavenly Father. Thank You that because of Your Beloved Son You open the door for us and invite us in.

Please help us to ask the right questions.

Please help us to seek Your will, listen well and hear You clearly - please stop everything that is not from You. Let Your Spirit guide us to the verses You want to highlight and give us insight. 

Please help us to think Your thoughts, to feel Your feelings.

Please help us to pray Your prayers. 

Thank You that we may pray to You and also pray with You. This is a journey - help us to walk humbly with You.

Jesus, thank You for Your Word and Spirit that strengthen and encourage us and help us to persevere.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Corrie ten Boom: “Don’t bother to give God instructions, just report for duty.”

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