Could You Pray for Me?
I was standing on the lawn talking with people after our Sunday services. A young lady I’d never met stood off to the side with one of those, “I have to tell you something” looks every pastor knows.
When the crowd cleared, I walked over to her. “Thank you for being so patient. My name is Ed, how can I help you?”
Tears streamed down her face. “Could you pray for me, please?”
I would love to.
Words poured from her heart. Story after story punctuated by sidebar explanations I could not connect. “And then my mother told me that she heard…” “Well, I really didn’t say that, but my husband thought I did….” “I just don’t know if I can go on with all of these people saying….” “And then I lost my job….” “So you can see why I….”
Telling or Asking?
We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
• The leader of your small group asks, “Does anyone have a prayer request?” and you spend about thirty minutes talking about the problem and maybe two or three minutes actually praying.
• Standing at the bedside of a close friend, you decide to pray. The Christians in the room immediately start talking. “You know, my aunt had something like this. It was her liver. Have the doctors tested your liver?” “Oh, I was sick like this once. Is your neck stiff? That’s really bad! When my neck got stiff….”
• Someone from the church calls you to report a terrible accident. “I don’t know where they are taking her. I hope it’s not to this hospital. I went there once and the emergency care isn’t very good. I almost died when the nurse gave me….”
The prayer request sounds more like a novel strung together by a series of “and then’s.” You think to yourself, surely this is the last twist of this plot, but the end never comes.
That’s the way it was with this brokenhearted woman on the church lawn. As poured out her heart, some verses came to mind:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplications, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
“Let your requests be made known unto God.” Not your stories, insights, and follow-up questions and explanations.
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
“Call to Me,” rather than “explain to Me” or “enlighten Me.”
I put both hands on the young lady’s shoulders and broke in, “What do you want God to do?”
She seemed confused. “Huh?”
I repeated, “What do you want God to do?”
Startled back to the real issue of prayer, she said plainly, “I want God to put my marriage back together again.”
And so, finally, we asked God to do something, “Father, we ask you now, in Jesus’ name, please heal this marriage.”
It’s a revolutionary idea-to actually ask God for something-but it shouldn’t be.
“What do you want God to do?”
Your answer to that question is the only one that really matters at the throne of grace.