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Today I want to speak to those of you who lead prayer times and prayer meetings. You have a great responsibility in helping people focus on God in prayer. Most of you are aware that the great tendency in corporate prayer meetings and possibly in private prayer is to focus on ourselves, our needs and immediate desires. Let me suggest that the next time you lead a prayer time that you try to stretch the prayer requests people lift to eternal perspectives.

You need to begin by praying about this for several days before you come to the prayer meeting. You might also stir some excitement about such a prayer meeting by announcing in advance what you are planning to do, explaining how you plan to do it.

I would warn you not to complain about how people have prayed in the past. Even in petty prayers people enter the presence of God Almighty. You can tell them, "We will pray for every request, then we will try to stretch it to an eternal perspective."

Explain this again as you begin the prayer meeting. I think all prayer meetings should begin with praise. As you invite people to lift praises explain the difference between praises to our wonderful God and thanksgivings for specific things He has done in our lives. You can lift thanks as well, but you need to help people see that God is great even when He does not give us what we think we need.

Then as people lift requests start stretching them. Different groups and different prayer times need to operate differently, but if it is possible you need to word these petitions. Suppose someone asks prayer for an aunt having surgery. You might pray briefly for a successful surgery and healing. Then ask rhetorically, "How do we stretch this prayer toward eternity?" You might then suggest that you pray for the lady to know she is in God's hands. You might ask that God give her a powerful witness of God's grace to the doctors and nurses.

After you have stretched several prayer requests begin inviting people in the group to stretch prayer requests toward a divine perspective.

I am not leading a prayer meeting right now. But I wish I were. I would like to try this and see how people respond. If some of you try it out, let me know what happens. 

http://daveswatch.com/

http://watchinginprayer/

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/

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Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on May 5, 2016 at 10:41pm

David, that is an awesome perspective and I join those who pray for your healing, even as I join you in praying for God to be glorified in your body whether by life or by death.  I see no conflict in praying that way, because ultimately my desire for you is the same as your own desire for yourself - that God be honored, as I know he is in your life.  I believe that God responds to the heart of our prayers more than to the words of our prayers - so if our hearts desire his glory above all things, I'd go as far as to say there's no "wrong" prayer.  For if our primary desire is his glory, then we will joyfully accept his answer, whether or not it is exactly what we envisioned - like Paul with the thorn in the flesh.

I have not shared this story in full on Pray.Network before, although I alluded to it in a recent prayer I posted on one of Phil's blogs.  My mother passed away of cancer 33 years ago, while I was in college.  My Dad and I prayed daily for her healing, and God did give us a period of remission, though it was brief.  But the most important thing that God did was to issue one last call to both of my parents for salvation - just before we knew about the severity of the cancer.  We were attending a 5-week evangelistic series as a family at the time.  I was the only believer in my family, but during that time both my parents (and my brother) gave their lives to the Lord.  It turned out to be Mom's final chance - but I believe it was really the final chance for my Dad also.  Had Mom died outside of Christ, I don't believe Dad's bitterness would have ever allowed him to come to the Lord.

So God was glorified.  Do I wish my Mom were still alive?  Every single day.  But my rejoicing in her eternal future is far greater than my sadness of having lost her so long ago.  Dad still talks of the time he and I spent that fall driving back and forth to the hospital and reading through the Psalms together.  God chose to answer a prayer of years rather than the prayer of the moment.  Words fail me to express my gratefulness to him.

Comment by David Young on May 5, 2016 at 12:17am

(oops.) I told one of my doctors the only reason I have been alive so long is because people are praying for me. He was silent a moment and then said, "That is right." However, I have not felt a freedom to pray for healing, that means being cancer free, for myself. I don't believe that is good general theology. But I have struggled with God over the issue. What am I to say? I do think it is more important to pray that God will be glorified in my body whether by life or by death, (Phil.1:20) than to tell God how to do that. I will of course rejoice if God does heal me before death. Timing it an issue here. It is not for me to know the times or the seasons God has left to His own authority. (Acts 1:7) But I know I will be eternally healed.

Comment by David Young on May 5, 2016 at 12:08am

Thank you, Andrew. I think I have said before (If I have not it is terribly overdue.) that I always appreciate your comments. There are even times when a prayer might seem good even heavenly in its perspective, but not the the way God wants to bring about His highest and best. I am so thankful that He can be trusted to pray what the Holy Spirit is praying on my behalf. 

I have metastatic cancer. I have actually lived years beyond what the doctors 

Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on May 4, 2016 at 7:55am

What a great thread!  David, I totally agree with your thoughts.  I heard Phil talk about "so that" prayers several years ago and have been praying this way ever since.  I find that when the emphasis is on the "so that", we tend to give God more freedom (as if he needs our permission) to answer in ways that bring him the most glory.  It could be that our specific request is a little off-base - maybe not exactly the right request, maybe not the right timing, etc.  But when we focus on the "so that" and when we care more for God's purposes to be fulfilled than we do seeing our requests granted in exactly the way we envision, we see answers to prayer that we might otherwise have missed.  We see God bringing honor to himself and intervening in a person's situation even if it's not exactly the intervention that we envisioned.

Our God is, after all, the "God of the Immeasurably More".  "So that" praying begins to lift our thoughts and prayers into that "immeasurably more" realm.

Comment by David Young on May 3, 2016 at 9:55am

Thank you, Vickie. Your comments always encourage. I too like the words, "so that" added to prayer.

Comment by Vicki Normoyle on May 3, 2016 at 6:22am
David, thanks for the suggestion. And AMEN, to the truth that God is great, and faithful, and gracious even when He doesn't give us what we think we need. I'm not leadin a prayer meeting right now either but want to pay attention to my times of intercession and expand those requests to an eternal perspective. Phil, the idea of adding "so that" will assist in that endeavor. Thank you both for your contributions to this community.
Comment by Phil Miglioratti on May 2, 2016 at 8:04pm

David,

I have found that by encouraging each pray-er to add two words to what they think is the end of their prayer request, enables them to stretch from reactive praying to proactive praying.

Reactive praying is prompted by someone's trial trouble, testing - we hear about it and, rightly, react with a prayer ... that usually is not much more than telling God what he already knows and informing him of the best solution we can think of.

Proactive praying stretches the request from the precipitating cause to the purpose or promises of God, by adding "so that" to the end of the request. 

  • Father, our sister in Christ is in the hospital with ( X ) illness (which God already knows) ... we ask that you heal her (of course) SO THAT ... she can continue to serve you in her family, in her critical role of teaching junior high students the word of God ...etc.

"So that" stretches our thinking from the problem to the possibilities or plans of the Lord.

Thanks for all the good posting you do for our Pray.Network community,

Phil

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