Thursday, April 7, 2016
Only the Starting Point
Like you, I have been asked more times than can be counted to pray for someone. And, like you, I have asked many times for the prayers of those around me. While we may differ about some of the things the Bible says to us, its message about praying for one another is unquestionable. We may not understand all the dynamics of intercessory prayer, but we are, nonetheless, called by scripture to pray for one another. And, we do it.
On the surface, it looks easy enough to do, but sometimes I wonder. As I learn from the praying saints around me, I wonder if praying for someone is not more involved than putting a name on a list of people and praying, "Lord, bless all these folks listed on the page." This may be a starting point for us on our journey to a meaningful prayer life, but I am not sure it should be the ending point. As I reflect on the way others have prayed, I remember a man who would sit unseen on the steps leading into the chancel area of the sanctuary and pray for me while I was preaching. I also think of a friend whose prayers I have sought who often sends a simple text message saying, "Praying for you." When I read it, I visualize him making the text message a part of his prayer time. And, I think of those who through a mailed card or an internet email sent me a prayer they had offered up to God on my behalf.
It could be that our prayer list sabotages our intent to be people who really pray. Sometimes it gets too long. It gets to heavy to carry so we are tempted to employ the blanket blessing method of prayer. A prayer list can become more manageable and usable if shortened by understanding that no prayer list is written in concrete. A long daily list can be divided into seven shorter daily sections which might lead to more focused prayer. And, most importantly, it might help us find more ways to pray and to bring the people for whom we are praying under the influence of our intercession.