Praying for Others

Confession: My prayer life has always been a struggle. Although I grew up in a family that prayed before every meal and before every trip, and although I’ve attended church my entire life, I still have trouble with both remembering to come before God with my requests and knowing what to say. Sometimes I think I’ve avoided prayer because I don’t know what to say.

Which is somewhat ridiculous, since Romans 8:26-27 tells us that we don’t have to know what to say. (“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”)

Still, I’ve especially been lost with knowing how to pray for others, apart from their immediate physical needs.

Specifically, I’ve been unsure of how to pray for a friend who hurt me. Jesus says in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (I’m not being “persecuted” by this friend. We’re just not on good terms anymore.) So I know that part of the forgiveness process is to pray for her.

I just haven’t known how.

But lately the Lord has been revealing to me the importance of using Scripture as a model for my prayers.

And the Holy Spirit just led my attention to Ephesians 3:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:14-19

I can’t think of anything better to pray for this friend–that she would understand at the core of her being how loved she is by our great God.

Confession 2: I missed my normal day to post on The Grace Scripts because I’m still in college and have gotten behind on homework. (Whoops.) But here’s something I’ve learned from my homework for my Psalms class:

Even when the Psalms seem too dark for us to pray for ourselves, we can use them to pray for others in darkness.

For example: Psalm 109.

Help Me, O Lord My God

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

Be not silent, O God of my praise!
For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
    speaking against me with lying tongues.
They encircle me with words of hate,
    and attack me without cause.
In return for my love they accuse me,
    but I give myself to prayer.
So they reward me evil for good,
    and hatred for my love.

Appoint a wicked man against him;
    let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
    let his prayer be counted as sin!
May his days be few;
    may another take his office!
May his children be fatherless
    and his wife a widow!
10 May his children wander about and beg,
    seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11 May the creditor seize all that he has;
    may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
    nor any to pity his fatherless children!
13 May his posterity be cut off;
    may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord,
    and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
15 Let them be before the Lord continually,
    that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!

16 For he did not remember to show kindness,
    but pursued the poor and needy
    and the brokenhearted, to put them to death.
17 He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!
    He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
18 He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;
    may it soak into his body like water,
    like oil into his bones!
19 May it be like a garment that he wraps around him,
    like a belt that he puts on every day!
20 May this be the reward of my accusers from the Lord,
    of those who speak evil against my life!

21 But you, O God my Lord,
    deal on my behalf for your name’s sake;
    because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
22 For I am poor and needy,
    and my heart is stricken within me.
23 I am gone like a shadow at evening;
    I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak through fasting;
    my body has become gaunt, with no fat.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
    when they see me, they wag their heads.

26 Help me, O Lord my God!
    Save me according to your steadfast love!
27 Let them know that this is your hand;
    you, O Lord, have done it!
28 Let them curse, but you will bless!
    They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad!
29 May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
    may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak!

30 With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;
    I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
    to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.

This psalm may seem extreme to those of us who have not been the recipients of pure injustice. However, this psalm could represent the prayers of victims of human trafficking. We can use this psalm as a template to understand the pain and anger that victims of human trafficking might feel towards their perpetrators. This empathy can lead us to approach God’s throne on behalf of these victims, and other vulnerable people groups.

Praise God for filling His Word with templates for our conversations with Him!

One thought on “Praying for Others

  1. While prayer seems like an easy spiritual practice it can be one of the most difficult spiritual practice we have. For myself my sense of guilt over past behaviors or comments keep me from having meaningful prayer. Other times my despair keeps me from seeking the heart of God in prayer. Then there are the days when I just can’t seem to get my prayers going. I think if most people are honest, they have just as hard of a time praying as the rest of us. I don’t know if this is a cop out or not but I seem to pray better when I enter into short prayers during the day. Paul does tells us to be continuously in prayer. Sometime my prayers are simply thank you for another day, or I prayer specifically about my family or someone I know. I tend to pray a lot when I’m driving. Sometime I might make a request known to God or I spend a few minutes praising Him, or I just cry out to God with feelings that are overwhelming me, both positive and negative.

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