Note: Post Surgery Update at Close for those interested.
“The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.”
FB Meyer (English Minister 1847-1929)
I am grateful how many, many people tell me they are praying for me, or else will pray for me; I know they truly want or intend to do so. The reality is, however, that most of us forget to pray for others when we say we are going to do so, or else we only pray a couple of times, or we simply run out of energy to do so.
We are missing out on the awesome power of prayer. It is our greatest act of service for those in pain because prayer unites our hearts with God in some kind of mysterious and awesome way so that we become part of his powerful work. EM Bounds, who died 99 years ago, although his wisdom about prayer is so revered that his books are still sold today, wrote this:
“God has of his own motion placed himself under the law of prayer… He has ordained prayer as a means whereby he will do things through men as they pray, which he would not otherwise do. [E.M. Bounds "The Weapon of Prayer" Chap. 2]
I think of prayer as the thread that stitches the pieces of a crazy quilt pattern, making something beautiful out of what seemed haphazard and disconnected. We empower the stitching, by uniting our hearts with God. It’s huge! And it runs contrary to everything human about us, so we seem to find it difficult. Yet, it is so worth determining to do!
Here are my suggestions for how you can pray for me and for others who suffer, if you want to make a difference in their lives, and in yours as well.
6 Steps for Powerful Praying
to Make a Difference:
#1 -Consider making praying for others a project for two weeks, M-F. Set up a time on your calendar to pray each day for 20 minutes, during a time when you are least like to be distracted or interrupted. (Driving in the car doesn’t count!) Choose the same place and time to pray each day so your brain will make the connection more easily.
#2 - Come as you are. It doesn’t matter what your relationship is with God is like--whether it is warm and comfortable, or awkward and distant. F.B. Meyer, (quoted in the opening) also said this--and I think he nailed it beautifully:
“Fall on your knees and grow there.
There is no burden not made lighter by kneeling under it.
Prayer means not always talking to Him,
but waiting before Him ‘till the
dust settles and the stream runs clear.”
So, don’t worry if the words don’t come. Sit quietly. Ask God to come and be present with you, whatever your relationship has been with Him in the past.
#3 - Begin to pray for those who suffer. Visualize them and their lives, asking God to tell you what to pray. Pray whatever comes to mind, even if you don’t know if it is what God wants you to pray. If nothing comes to mind, try to put yourself in their positions, and imagine what it would be like to live like them. What do you think their days are like? What challenges do they face? What do you know about their finances and how their suffering might be extra costly? What about the impact on their families and their social, community, and/or church lives? Also, thank God for the goodness you see in and around them.
Tip: I find it helpful to keep notes on what I have prayed for specific people, so that I can remember just what I have prayed (see number 4.) It is also exciting for me to do so, because I will often get to check- off what I have prayed because God has answered my prayers!
#4 - Let people know you have prayed for them. Write a quick note, email, text, or, give people a call to tell them you’ve prayed for them--it will give them a “Christmas Day” experience. And ask them how you can pray for them in the future. (Keep the conversation brief, so as to not discourage you from calling again!)
#5 - Thank God for what he will do with your prayers for others and for yourself. Praying for others not only is for their good, but miraculously produces a change in us. When we pray, the Holy Spirit goes to God on our behalf even when we don’t know what we need to pray about for ourselves!
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Let your requests and your praises shape your worries into prayers,
letting God know your concerns.
And know this--the Spirit Himself goes to God on your behalf
with yearnings too deep for utterance.
Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness,
everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down.
It’s wonderful what happens when Christ
displaces worry at the center of your life.”
Combination of Phil 4:6 and Romans 8:26
from The Message and NIV
#6 - Avoid feeling you must do more than pray.. Sometimes subconsciously the reason people don’t pray for those who suffer is because they are afraid they will feel compelled to become more involved in their lives. If you pray with a sincere heart, there is nothing greater you can do for people who suffer. Our job is to always be asking God who and where to help--let him nudge you several times so that you make a faithful decision over a “feeling” decision.
I hope these will help you. I thank God that you care for people who suffer.
Post-Surgery Update: I’m in day eight post-surgery--still having to stay pretty quiet and taking pain meds. (Warren and I braved dinner out last night--was not a great idea!) We’ll meet with the surgeon next week.
Will you pray for these: (1) My surgeon will be prompted to give my case extra consideration, study and outside consultation, despite his own hectic schedule; and, (2) If it serves the Lord, he will relieve the pain in the site of surgery--alongside the curve of my nose, running below my cheek, and over to the tip of my lip; as well as bring up the droop to my lip that occurred after surgery.
I write this while sitting on my screened-in-porch, wrapped in a light blanket against the cool morning, as gentle rain falls and thunder rolls like a soft murmur in the distance. Crepe myrtles plump with pink blossoms are providing a good shelter for my two hummingbirds-in-residence, as they dart back and forth between the trees and the feeder just a few feet away from me. A dozen or more birds are singing a praise to the Maker of the Day. The Lord is on High…all is well.