God is challenging me about just praying for people at the moment. Now why is it that I find it so hard just to pray with people? Please understand me, I’m not talking about Christians, that’s easy. I’m talking about the people who I meet from day to day. The people who rarely darken the door of a church, but who might well answer honestly when I ask them “how are you doing?”
I think I got it right the other day. Don’t think I am blowing my own trumpet, I get it wrong so often. The other day I asked someone I knew a bit how they were doing and they told me. They told me about the really big thing that was going on for them at the moment, and I made the appropriate noises and then I thought “I should offer to pray with him.” So I did, and he said yes and I asked Jesus to deal with the situation there and then. As I said, that dy I think I got it right.
It made me think though. Why am I so often reluctant to offer to pray? Here are a few thoughts as to why that might be.
1) I think it will frighten people off. You know we can be so careful of other people’s feelings about our faith that we are spiritually useless. I won’t offer to pray, I think because they might feel offended. I’ve offered to pray with people before and I’ve never been refused.
2) Cultural conditioning. It’s not done is it – offering spiritual help if you are British. I think such thoughts are about fifteen years out of date. The world around us is changing and many people have a sense of spirituality. They might even expect us to pray!
3) So called theological sophistication. Some of you will recognise the thoughts. “Well Jesus might not heal, I don’t want to set her up for disappointment” “what if what he wants isn’t God’s will?“ Obviously I need to be wise about what I pray, but at the same time not be paralysed by our questions.
Here are a few thoughts about how to pray and offer to pray for folks.
1) Simply offer and leave the ball in their court. I think if we just asked “would you like me to pray with you about that?” We might be surprised how many people say yes.
2) Simply pray and don’t go wacky. Wacky and non Christians don’t go together. That you ask and who you ask is more important than how you ask, so don’t do religious clichés, just simply ask Jesus into the situation.
3) Pray later. Why not continue to pray for God’s work in the situation?
4) Check back with the person later. They might need to be gently reminded “Well that’s what we prayed for!“