Okay, that’s a pretty presumptuous title, I admit it. But I’m not sure what else to call this post. I think sharing prayer requests actually is something of an art—one that I am still learning.
Earlier in my life with God, I didn’t think much about crafting my prayer requests. If someone asked, “How can I pray for you?” I’d usually run through a quick mental check list: Is anyone I love sick? Have I had struggles with employment, neighbors, my house, car, or computer? Am I flying or driving any long distances? If yes, then Voila! I had a prayer request. If no, I could say, “No, I guess I’m doing okay.”
But somewhere in my spiritual journeying, I realized that prayer requests for the things I just mentioned—things I would like God to do to make my life go more smoothly and comfortably—weren’t necessarily the ones that had great impact in the Kingdom of God. Sure, God cares about all of my concerns. He tells us to cast all our cares on Him—and surely crashed computers, job stress, conflicts with neighbors, and bouts with the flu are included. But God wants me to ask Him about so much more!
Plus, from the intercessor side, I realized that it’s a whole lot more interesting and engaging to pray for matters of eternal significance than what prayer leader Jonathan Graf likes to call “little answerables.” Again, and I cannot emphasize this enough, I’m not for a second suggesting that we should not pray for any and all burdens we may carry. I freely confess: when I got a bunch of chigger bites last month, I didn’t mind letting my prayer partner know about it!
What I am suggesting is that there’s a whole lot more to pray about. Let me share some ideas to stimulate your thinking.
- What is God teaching you about Himself that you need His help to really get?
- How is God stretching and challenging you?
- What do you sense God wants to do in the big picture of your family?
- What purpose does God have for your work? (Look beyond the usual meeting of deadlines, management of projects, annual reviews, and production of products and services—how is He working in you and your workplace to build integrity, trust, community, and other Kingdom values?
- Is there an area of struggle or temptation you need God’s help to overcome?
- Is there a dream or burden He has given you?
- Does your do-list show Kingdom priorities?
- Would you like more opportunities to use your spiritual gift?
- Is there a Scripture you’d like to “pray into” your life?
- What kind of person do you want to be 20 years from now? How do you need God’s help to get there?
- Where would you like to see more spiritual fruit in your life?
- Do your finances reflect Kingdom values?
- Are you enjoying intimacy with God?
I hope these ideas give you some ideas. If you were to get one idea of a great prayer request to share with a prayer partner or small group, I’d be very happy for you indeed. Please don’t go crazy trying to think up prayer requests about every bullet point! One meaningful prayer request is plenty to share with the people who pray for you.
Also realize that some “artful” prayer requests will be more personal or confidential than others. For instance, I share some requests only with close friends who know me well. Other prayer requests I feel free to share in small group settings. Only a few of the prayer requests like the ones from the list above would I feel free to share in an email distribution or a church prayer chain.
But trust me—a more “artful” prayer request like the ones we’re talking about here—is more memorable and exciting to pray about. People will enjoy praying for you. And the answer God brings to that request will resound in eternity.