What happens when you begin praying for a friend, neighbor or co-worker on a regular basis? Are the effects more visible in that person’s life or in yours?
What happens in my life when I pray is that my love, concern, curiosity and engagement with others goes way up. I begin wondering if the friend I’m praying for is experiencing the love of God in new ways.
Prayer is something much bigger than hopeful thinking or effort on my part. The prayer I pray is in itself an act of faith.
It’s my way of acknowledging that I need God to show up in ways I never can, working on my friend’s heart and mind and speaking to his spirit.
When we pray we get to see God work
Recently my friend Jonathan became very ill on a trip overseas. As I prayed for his healing, God led me to Psalm 61:1–2.
I messaged those verses to Jonathan and not long afterward he replied thanking me. He said that just before receiving my message a doctor was able to visit him in his hotel room. The doctor identified the nature of Jonathan’s breathing issue and got him medicine that quickly helped him.
As I heard my friend’s testimony I knew his faith had grown — and so had mine.
I’ve also been praying for Nathan. He’s been introduced to Jesus, but I’ve been praying that his desire would grow to know Jesus more.
Nathan has resisted several invitations from me to read one of the Gospels together. But interestingly enough his girlfriend accepted the challenge from another believer to read the Gospel of John. There’s now a tension in their relationship around the fact that she is learning and getting excited about Jesus while he is not. I’m praying that God uses this positive tension to motivate Nathan to accept my next invitation.
Praying is something you learn by doing. Reading books — or blogs like this — will only take you so far. You need to pray for the people you want to lead deeper into relationship with Jesus.
Here are seven ways you can pray for people you are focusing on:
- Ask Jesus to tell you what to pray for them. He is good at giving us insight into how to pray for people. It may not be what you expect. Have courage to pray whatever God puts on your heart.
- Let the Lord know that you’re available to be the answer to the prayer(s) you’re praying for people. Is there something God wants you to say or do? Yes? Then say or do it.
- Let the people know you’re praying for them and ask if there’s anything they would like you to pray for. When you feel it’s appropriate, ask if anything has happened in their life related to their prayer requests.
- Find a Scripture that fits where your friends are on their spiritual journey. The “stages” feature of your MissionHub might help you think about this. Then pray the verses back to God. For example, “Jesus, you said: ‘Seek and you will find.’ I ask that you put it in my friend’s heart to seek you, so he can find you.”
- Pray that God brings other people into the lives of your friends who will show and share with them the love of God. God loves using many faces and voices to reveal his goodness to someone. You’re part of a family — a team — living this out together.
- Take time to thank God for the people you’re focused on. Think back on any way you’ve seen God work in the lives of your friends. Let your friends know that you’ve been thanking God for what you see him doing in their lives.
- Set a reminder on your phone or smartwatch to pray. If you’re like me, this positive disruption will prompt you to do what you really want to do.
So this week, why not try praying for someone you care about in one or more of these ways? You could write your own personalized step of faith in the MissionHub app based around one of these ideas.
Then, as you begin or end your day, pray boldly for your friend — or neighbor, or co-worker — trusting God to answer your prayer.
When you reach next week and mark that step of faith complete, whether or not you see a change in your friend’s life, you can thank God for how he’s growing your faith.
Try these three simple prayers
New to praying? Here are three simple examples of prayers I have said to God. You can fill in the blanks with your own details:
- Lord, please accomplish _______ in the life of _______ to show her that you are the Living God.
- Let _______ be dissatisfied this week with the emptiness of earthly pursuits and build in him a longing for the spiritual and eternal.
- Father God, bring compassionate people to _______ today. She needs to experience love and mercy at this point in her life.
There’s real joy in praying specifically and seeing specific answers. So let your joy increase this week as you pray specifically for your friends.
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