Confessions & Encouragement from a Tired Prayer Leader: Five Practical Ways to Pray More with Others
Last night I was doing something that I have done hundreds and hundreds of times over the past eight years (no exaggeration) - I was leading worship in a small prayer room. There were just a few of us and it felt more mundane than it did glorious, but it was none the less effective.
I think that’s the thing about prayer. There are times when it is glorious and we feel the magnificent presence of God overshadowing us, He’s dropping incredible revelation in our spirits, and we have this keen sense that we have accomplished much for His glory. And then there are times like last night, when I’m tired, my voice is struggling, and I wish more people were in the room.
This got me thinking this morning about why I pray, why I continue to lead worship and pray in a prayer room, and why I choose to pray with others on a regular basis in a variety of settings. I won’t go into all of that right now, but I do want to at least affirm and declare what James teaches in chapter 5, verse 16: “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Likewise, we know that Jesus states in Matthew 18:19 - 19 that, “…if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” This really encourages my heart because the Lord Himself is admonishing us to “grab the hands" of someone near me, pray in agreement together for a specific need, and our Father will give us what we ask for! Critical mass in the Kingdom is only two or three! Praise God!
The other thing I was thinking about this morning is how we think about praying more than we actually pray. (Can I get a witness? I know it’s true of me!) We think and talk about God more than we actually pray and speak to God. I want to help us with that. The following are five practical suggestions to help all of us pray more with others.
1. If you read a prayer request on Facebook, PAUSE what you’re doing in that moment and PRAY for that need. Pause your scrolling and take a moment to lift that request before the Lord. (Make this a habit if someone shares a prayer request with you in person as well!)
I had a friend once complain to me that her little “teaspoon” prayer was of no effect and that’s why she refrained from praying. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6:7 - 8, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Even a few faith-filled words offered to our Father can change someone’s life. Pause and Pray.
2. If there’s a house of prayer or prayer meeting near you - GO! Join in agreement with others for breakthrough for their families or in seeing injustice upended and justice roll like a river in your city. Don’t underestimate the power of agreement. Also, don’t underestimate the powerful experience of being in person with believers, gathered in Jesus’ name. He promises to be in our midst whenever we do. That’s both good theology AND powerful reality.
3. Make time to pray with at least one other person every week. This person could be your child, your spouse, a parent, a friend, or even the person with all the Christian artwork on their desk. Whomever the Holy Spirit points out to you - ask them to pray with you, even if it’s just for a five minute “rumble” about a specific topic. As was mentioned above, our prayers don’t have to be long to be effective. If you can’t pray in person with someone, do it via Zoom or phone call.
4. Create a simple prayer rhythm in your life. I think we sometimes get intimidated about the thought of praying because we assume we need to pray for long periods of time and and so we don’t even try. I would like to suggest that you incorporate prayer as a daily habit. For instance, if you run, dedicate part of your exercise time to prayer. Pray in the shower. Tie it to something you do every day. I recently watched an interview with Denzel Washington where he shared how he literally gets down on his knees every night, next to his bed, and prays to God before he falls asleep. Here’s an example from my life: My son and I pray together every morning on the way to school. In a mere 30 seconds, he prays for his day, that he and his classmates would stay safe and healthy, for his dad to have a productive day at work, and for a specific need for someone else. Most recently, he’s been faithfully praying for healing for our former pastor who is on kidney dialysis.
Then, it’s my turn! Robert listens to me thank the Lord for various blessings. I pray back to God a few potent Biblical promises such as: "Father, I thank you that You surround our family with Your favor like a shield. I thank you that You supply all of needs according to Your riches and glory. I thank You for new mercies this morning, and that Your goodness and mercy follow us today., etc." Next, I apply the blood of Jesus to our family and those (by name) the Lord has assigned to my “prayer care.” I pray for protection from Covid and victory over Covid and the Delta Variant. Finally, I pray for Ellie and Robert’s schools, their friends, and for our family to love God and to love others well.
This whole prayer time takes maybe 3 - 4 minutes. Simple, but effective.
5. Pray for healing. Do you have a cold? Don’t just accept it and let it run its course - pray for God to heal you. Headache? Same thing. Remind yourself to pray for healing. My rule of thumb is that I always try to pray first before I reach for the Advil or the Pepto. And if I can, I ask someone to pray in agreement for my healing, whether that is Ellie laying hands on me and telling my pain to leave or it is with a friend via text. There have been many times that after I’ve prayed with someone, my ailment lessons or even totally disappears, i.e. Jesus heals me! Every time we pray, we’re strengthening our “faith muscle.” Every time we pray, we’re acknowledging our belief that our heavenly Father cares for us, listens to our petitions, and is faithful to respond.
Do My Personal Prayer Needs Matter to God?
I have had quite a few people over the years (including a pastor friend) say to me, “Well, I think God has more important things to think about rather than [my little need]…” Let’s really dive into that thought. Does the God who created the heavens and the earth only have time to solve child hunger in Sudan? Are our needs too insignificant for His time? Are we jamming the prayer airwaves with our silly requests when we should save our requests for something more important?
Here’s what I know - in the gospels, Jesus taught his disciples to pray for their daily bread. Daily. Think about that. He taught his disciples to pray about receiving sustenance from God on a daily basis. In another passage, Jesus talks about how God notices when a sparrow falls from the sky and He has numbered the very hairs on our head. Now, I don’t know about you, but numbering the hairs on my head seems a bit over the top, eh? I love my kids with everything that is within me, but I have never felt a desire to number the hairs on their head. THAT, my friend, is how much care and concern our Father has for us. So, don’t disdain praying for that headache or asking for divine help when taking your driver’s test. And, let’s continue to pray for huge issues such as child hunger, human trafficking, racism, abortion, etc. that we need God to fix and heal. Our infinite God can handle all of our finite requests. Our Father truly loves and cares for each of us, including you and including me.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!..“ 1 John 3:1