I have about five of them: people I trust to pray.
About anything. Everywhere. Any time, and with the utmost genuine commitment. They are people of prayer, people who believe in the power of a prayer offered before God. People who believe in banging on the judge’s door until it opens (Luke 18:1-8).
I was fortunate to be raised in an environment where the importance of prayer—the importance of commitment to pray, and then following through on that commitment—was paramount. Countless times I watched my mother hang up the phone from a prayer request and then immediately pray. You needed to be careful asking my grandmother to pray if you had anything else to say to her, because the minute you mentioned you needed prayer she’d go and do it—right then.
That list of people who pray is invaluable to me. I can call them and ask for prayer and know it will be done. I know they will pray in profound intercession and won’t stop until I ask. I get texts from them that say simple things like “praying,” and they will tell my mother they are praying, and they keep on praying until it’s time to stop.
These people pray for people they know, people they don’t know, all manner of requests, at urgent times and not-so-urgent times, in the face of death and in the face of life. They have prayed with me, away from me, on me, and over me.
And there is value, of course, in the prayer of many believers together (Matt. 18:19-20, James 5:14-15). But there is another comfort, too, that comes when believers pray together: the comfort that you are not alone on the journey.
When you ask someone to pray and they pray, they are—regardless of where they are geographically—present with you and to you. The commitment to pray is a sign and an act of care. When someone prays, you cannot not be on their mind. When someone prays, your hurts and struggles exist, too, in their domain. When someone prays, they say implicitly: I care enough to offer your requests to God myself.
That is why it can be so crushing when you ask someone to pray and they simply…don’t. It is the most profound sort of rejection. When someone asks you to pray, they’re also implicitly asking for care. Acknowledgement. To simply forget and not pray, to let the request fall away into the void, to turn your back is an act of rebuke and deep unkindness. It stings. And it is not soon forgotten by those who have felt it.
The invocation of praying—“I’ll pray for you,” “thoughts and prayers,”—has, to my sorrow, become associated in the secular world (not always wrongly) with a sense of do-nothingness. There is an assumption that believers say, “Aw. I’ll pray for that,” in the same way that someone says, “Aw, well that stinks”—as an expression of condolence and sympathy requiring no greater action. In fairness, I have known some believers to do this. But many other believers I know treat prayer as the sacred act it is, and the gravity with which they approach has strengthened so many failing, faltering hearts.
So in closing, let me leave you with two questions:
- Can I pray about anything for you? If so, drop a note in the comments. If it’s too personal, you don’t even have to write it out. Just write “a private request.”
- Can I ask those of you who pray to keep my mother in your thoughts? She’s been ill lately (non-COVID, thanks be to God) and we would appreciate prayers for her good encouragement, improved health, and for wisdom for her physicians as they try to determine the cause.
My God’s good grace see you through today, and the rest of the week. And to those of you who are the “people of prayer” I mentioned above: thank you. Never stop. Your dedication means more than you know.