I Guess I’ll Just Pray

“I wish I could do something to help.”
“I’ll just pray . . .”

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.

I could and want to pray more. Perhaps, the same is true for you. So why don’t we? I can share one personal, powerful insight I experienced recently—We forget how AWESOME PRAYER is.

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.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4.18)

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.

Beginning a New Season

DSC01364 Terrell and I  just had a long, fun weekend with our children. Since we’re spread out in various cities and states, we treasure the gift of simply being together. Nowadays, we have various devices that enable us to communicate frequently, yet the richness of sharing silly or special moments, listening and talking in person, or just knowing someone is ‘right there’ is immeasurable.

Before we said our good-byes, each of us shared something we’d like prayer for as we begin a new season. Terrell just began his second year of residency, Ellison and Carter are in graduate school, and Cecilia is moving to a new city to begin a Fellows program. We prayed for each other and hugged good-bye. An added blessing is that each of us knows our family is committed to continue to pray for each other.

DSC01373This didn’t happen overnight. When our children were old enough to write, we began to share prayer requests with each other. I bought them spiral notebooks and we shared requests most weeks. We encouraged them to pray those requests throughout the week.

Yes, they complained, groaned, and wore facial expressions to match.
Yes, they said, “No one else does this.”
Yes, I’m sure plenty of days went by and they didn’t pray for their brother or sister—just because.
Yes, I second-guessed my effort plenty of times and wondered if this was a ridiculous idea and a waste of everyone’s time.

Time passed. And as it did, Terrell and I prayed for their young hearts to want to pray, to remember to pray, and to experience God answering our prayers in whatever way he willed.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5.16)

IMG_0033Simple prayers like being able to sink the basketball into the basket gave way to more vulnerable prayers for friends, guidance about decisions, help with a challenge, or even help to overcome an issue within our home. Terrell and I participated, too. Answered prayers were celebrated. Some prayer themes remained for months, while others were modified from week to week.

Our kids experienced that talking to God on behalf of their family matters and is effective. God showed them this, not us. Most importantly, they practiced building a personal relationship with Jesus. As we lead our children toward the Lord, he meets them where they are and loves them.

Begin a new season with your family—share and commit to pray for each other.

Dear God,
Please prepare the hearts of our family to become more prayerful for one another. Lead each of us into deeper intimacy with Jesus. Amen.