My Facebook feed is full of people asking for prayer. I know plenty of people who ask for prayer regarding every life event. I know others who share a few new prayer requests every time they come to their small group.
“My brother is looking for a job. Please pray for him.” Or,
“Our dog has been ill for a few days, please pray for her.” Or,
“I can tell I have a cold coming on, please pray for me.”
You’re already anticipating my banter and angst against this. Let me slow your roll.
I’m not one of these kinds of people. I ask for prayer publicly about twice a year. This is 80% about pride. I don’t want to appear weak. Asking for prayer conveys the need for help. “I don’t need help,” or so I think. But this is also because I’m a pastor. I feel a responsibility to be a strong shepherd to support the flock. Yes, I realize that isn’t always a helpful mentality.
Scripture tells us to present our requests to the Lord, and this same Scripture is largely speaking to communities of people, meaning we should present our requests to the Lord in the context of connection with others. Whether this be on Facebook, or in a small group, or on your church’s comment card, we must be people who are open enough with each other to present our petitions and praises to the Lord, together, forgoing isolation.
We would do well to learn from brothers and sisters who readily ask others for prayer.
I must also mention that sometimes it is godly to keep our prayer requests to ourselves, especially in overly public settings, such as online social sites. Prudence often comes from wisdom.
What I notice is these same people who are seeking prayer support for a myriad of issues tend not to pursue prayer for others with the same zeal. It is this insular prayer framework that exemplifies the prayer life of many a Christian. “God I’m thankful for this. God I need your help with this. God I need a miracle here. Amen.” It’s all focused on self.
In all this, the mindset Paul writes about in Philippians 2:3 seems helpful: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” If prayer is primarily first about ourselves and making sure we are the ones being supported by others, we’ve turned prayer into a conceited act.
Of course, you could come to the conclusion that it’s just easier to never present prayer requests with others—avoid the drama, sort of thing. But that would miss out on the importance of bearing our burdens with one another (Galatians 6:2).
I’m not sure what the exact conclusion to all this should be, but I would hope your desire in prayer is first to establish intimacy with God, and then to care for others. Please, tell others how to pray for you, but first take the initiative to ask them how you can pray for and support them.
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