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Praying on Purpose Part 3- Praying for Another


What can we give that’s more valuable than begging God’s blessings for others?

This is the second part of a series on being more purposeful about deepening our relationship with God through prayer.  The first part can be found here, and I recommend starting there.

I have no idea what the most commonly told lie is, but I’m confident “I’ll pray for you” is a top contender.  It’s so easy to say and so easy to forget!  How often has God miraculously granted the good health and other favors we’ve asked for other people?  It can seem like a pretty unreliable way to get what we want.  

If that’s the case, is praying for people all that important?  

Probably not, if that’s the attitude

It seems to me that we offer to pray for others—and actually follow through on this promise—more when we understand the value of our own intercession.  The Bible plainly says we ought to pray for each other (1 Tim 2: 1-2), so concluding that it’s pointless is obviously a mistake.  What’s going on then?

When we start a prayer with: “God, please do this thing for this person”, our focus is on our will being done.  Our goal is to get God to do what we think is best.

And that’s why this is part three of the series!  Starting here is a bad idea!

After spending time recognizing who God is (praise) and remembering that he doesn’t owe us anything, in fact, we are deeply in his debt (reconciliation), we can finally start asking for favors in a productive way.  

After we ask God to relieve the suffering of others, do we follow these prayers up with begging him to grant courage and perspective to them?  How often do we ask God to fortify their faith and hope in the midst of bad situations?  How often do we ask God to calm the storm, but if he will not, then at least reveal himself within it?

In my experience, those prayers get answered.

God never promised to give a life of comfort and ease.  How wise is it to judge the effectiveness of our prayers on whether or not God does something he never promised to do?  He did promise never to abandon us or our friends, so praying to find him and to be strengthened while suffering should be the backbone of our prayer.  

Yes, we should ask for the best-possible, miraculous solution, but that needs to be quickly followed up with prayers that our friends may accept whatever God is trying to give them.  It’s so easy to miss God’s gifts when we’re convinced he isn’t giving us what we need.

As we pray for others, here are some ideas to keep in mind:

  • Consider writing intentions down.  I use an app on my phone to avoid forgetting to pray for something or someone I believe can benefit from my prayers.  Because I believe my prayers mean something, I believe it’s worth making sure I don’t forget anyone or anything
  • Have a plan.  If someone asks for your prayers, know what you’ll do.  Will you offer a Hail Mary right then and there?  Will you add them to your list?  Have a plan.
  • People don’t need to ask!  Consider praying for the intentions of your family, friends, coworkers, pastor, and the souls in Purgatory.  Everyone’s doing their best to make it through this life; your intercession can’t hurt!  Pay attention and you’ll quickly find many ways people need your intercession.
  • Build praying for others into your schedule.  I have a list of intentions I pray for daily.  
  • Ask for help.  When I pray for these intentions, I first ask several saints to pray with me.  I’ve adapted my language to “let’s pray for…” instead of “I pray for…”. Asking Mary to pray for your intentions is objectively good, but also helps steer us away from praying for silly stuff

Nothing you have to give is more valuable than time spent in sincere prayer for God’s grace to be manifest in someone’s life.  This is particularly true in the family setting.  Praying for your spouse and kids naturally deepens your understanding of their struggles, gives you a tangible way to be part of what they’re going through, and encourages you to look for ways that God is acting in their lives, even if it’s not the dramatic solution you’re hoping for.

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