Have you ever felt frustrated that you can’t do more for someone or that you’re not doing enough? Maybe you can tell that someone is in pain—at your workplace, across the aisle in the grocery store, or living in your home—yet you struggle with how or whether to engage. I have; maybe you have, too.
We want to help, to do, to say something helpful or comforting, to fix. These are fine and often helpful responses. Yet sometimes we miss beautiful opportunities to partner with God, as we think on what we can do or say. Our greatest response or engagement toward a person generates from the stir of God’s Holy Spirit in us. We don’t “just pray.” We exercise a privilege to go to Almighty God on someone else’s behalf because we believe that he listens and that he always responds with his best in his perfect timing.
“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you.” (Psalm 141.2a) The psalmist David knew that prayer honors God. “And when he (Jesus) had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5.8)
Express your heart to God—plain and simple, humble. Our earnest words are incense to our Father who wants intimacy with his children and enjoys the pleasure of our coming to him. Continue to offer your heart’s words, over and over again . . . unless or until he stirs your heart to modify it. God doesn’t need us to pray, in order for anything good to happen. We need God and thus, we need to talk to the One we need.
A few weeks ago, a group of pastors’ wives gathered to pray. I knew I had to slip out after a few minutes in order to get to the airport. When I quietly stood, a friend whom I’d only met twice looked up, “Let’s pray for Teresa before she leaves.” Everyone stood, surrounded me, and prayed. I was humbled and awed. They are weary, too, yet they gave as conduits of the message and power of God. I hardly know some of them, but they are my sisters in Christ. They loved me with their words to our Lord, and he refreshed and strengthened me. . . . just pray? What could have meant more?
I spent the rest of that week with packers as they boxed our belongings for our move to South Carolina. Occasionally, one of the packers named Patricia asked me questions, “How long did you live in Houston? How old are your children?” So I did the same. Then she told me about her mom. As she shared, I was surprised by the reaction in my heart. I felt pain, even grief, for what her mother had experienced. I took a deep breath, “May I pray for your mother?” She looked shocked and almost whispered, “Yes.” When the first word left my mouth, I began to weep. I tried to stop but couldn’t, so I kept praying. When I finished, I looked at her and smiled through my tears (yes, I felt a little weird), “I will continue to pray for Sylvia.” . . . just pray? God swelled my heart with his love, and I trust that he holds Sylvia’s.
Dear God, Thank you for your love for us. Help us learn from you how to more often exercise our privilege to pray. Grow us to recognize your prompts, so that joy fills our heart as we respond with silent or aloud words to you. Help us see prayer as sweet communion with you. Fan in to flame passion in our soul to pray. Thank you for Jesus. Amen.