FORT WORTH, TX – One opportunity that most believers experience on a fairly consistent basis is to respond in prayer to prayer requests shared by other believers or even those who are not yet believers.
A friend, co-worker or fellow church member shares with you by conversation, email, phone call, or even social media a sincere prayer concern and asks if you will join him in prayer over the matter.
How do you respond? I've never heard anyone say, "No, I don't have time for that, but good luck." Normally, we quickly respond that we will pray and go on about our business. Sometimes we remember the request and pray about it quickly, but I will confess there have been times that I have completely forgotten about the matter and have been unfaithful in my commitment to pray for my brother or sister. In essence, I have lied to someone. I told them I would do something and failed to do it.
I have found a solution to this problem, and I have made it a practice in my life. It is not incredibly complicated, it is nothing new, but it works: When someone asks you to pray about a matter, stop whatever you are doing and pray with them right then. If you are in the store, stop and pray.
If you are on campus, stop and pray. If you see it on Twitter or Facebook, stop and pray and then send the individual a private message letting them know you have prayed and will continue to pray for the situation. If you are driving and talking on the cellphone, stop and pray -- but keep your eyes open. It does not have to be a long prayer, but a sincere prayer. It does not have to be the only prayer time, but the beginning of prayer for the situation.
This practice accomplishes two important things through my prayer life:
1. I never lie to anyone when I commit to pray about a matter. I say I will pray, and we pray right then. I never intended to lie before, but it occasionally happened that I would completely forget. My memory lapse made for some humbling moments when my paths crossed with that individual the next time.
2. The second thing this practice accomplished was unexpected: I have found that when I stop and pray, there is a work that takes place in my heart concerning the matter. It seems to me an immediate, quick and genuine prayer in some real way seals that request in my heart and mind. I find myself remembering it often over the next few days, writing it in my journal to pray going forward, and genuinely desiring to follow up with the one who had made the request. Bottom line: I find myself more engaged in the ministry that a specific prayer request always affords. This practice has led many times to further ministry opportunities.
Maybe you have already made this a practice. If so, keep it up. If not, why not give it a try? Just commit that if someone asks you to pray about something, you will stop and seek God's face together, remembering the words of Scripture: "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16).
Get ready: If you make this commitment, I believe someone is going to share a prayer need with you soon. What blessings does God have in store in such an opportunity?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tommy Kiker (@tommykiker on Twitter) is associate professor of pastoral theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This column first appeared at the seminary's Theological Matters website, www.theologicalmatters.com.