Praying for Others
Have you ever prayed for someone and felt like the prayer didn’t reach higher than the ceiling above you? You might reason it was because you were dealing with difficult circumstances ... or maybe because you were distracted ... or because you had a lack of faith.
While these reasons may very well explain the lack of power that causes some of our prayers to fizzle out, Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, brings up another alternative. Perhaps it was because we weren’t listening!
“Often people pray and pray with all the faith in the world, but nothing happens,” Foster writes (Foster 1998, 39). Why is that the case? He continues, “Naturally, they were not tuned to God” (Ibid.). In the same way that a radio signal requires us to be “tuned in” to hear it, we have to be connected to God and His purposes for the world (Ibid.).
We get attuned to God by reading the Bible, attending church, worshipping with others, being connected to a small group, and engaging in acts of service, just to name a few. While perhaps these may seem routine for you, it is through these ways (and others!) that God continually reconnects the radio of our lives to His signal and strengthens it so that we can stay connected to Him. The more we stay connected to Him, the more fruitful our prayers will be when the time comes for us to pray for others. Why? Because we are connected to God’s purposes for the world. And when we are connected to those purposes, we are given authority in all things, both big and small! “The beginning point then in learning to pray for others is to listen for guidance” (Ibid.).
This month we will be exploring what it means for us to be ALL IN in our commitment to others. Well, as it turns out, our connection to others is dependent on our connection to God. And listening lies at the heart of that connection.
Over the next month, I want to challenge us to listen more! Nothing could strengthen our relationships more than listening. When we listen to God’s guidance and direction and are attuned to His purposes for the world, we are able to connect the needs of those around us to those purposes. And as a result, our relationships are strengthened! What more could our families, students, staff, coworkers, coaches, teammates, classmates, and neighbors want from us than our being more in tune with God? I know I want that for myself and for the people to whom I am connected. And that strong connection begins with listening.
So, when given the opportunity to pray for someone, consider taking the time at the outset to stop, listen, and re-tune yourself to God’s signal. Who knows? This might be the very thing that helps meet the needs of others.
Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1998.