You probably don’t want me to pray for you this week. That’s because God has me interceding in ways that I don’t particular like interceding. Let me explain.
Recently God transplanted some close friends to a new community and radically different culture. The adjustment is challenging to say the least. So I was praying for my friends as I swam my laps at the gym.
Lord, please give them strength, I began. That’s sure what I would want if I were in their place.
Before I could pray anything more, God interrupted. No, child, don’t pray for them to have strength. Ask Me to redeem their weakness and use it for My glory.
Ouch. That’s not really what I wanted to hear. I don’t imagine my friends would want to hear it either. (So I haven’t told them.)
I swam some more and pondered what God had said. Familiar words from 2 Corinthians 12 came to mind: “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (9-10).
I thought of times in my life when the Lord has seemed closest and His power most tangible. Guess what. Almost without exception, those were not times when I felt capable and in-control—they were times when I have felt most weak.
So I adjusted my prayer. Okay, Lord, then would You please help them to be so keenly aware of their weakness that they throw themselves on You? Because if they do that, I know You will be strong for them and through them. Please use their weakness for Your glory and give them great joy as they see You come through for them.
As the Spirit helped me to pray that prayer, I realized that it’s good prayer to pray for lots of people I care about. Including ones who don’t even admit to feeling weak. I won’t go so far as to ask God to bring insults and calamities into their lives—don’t worry!—but most of us already have enough of those as a result of living in a broken world. What I am asking God to do is to help us not deny, hide, or run from our hardships. When we do that, we might miss an opportunity to experience God’s greatness. My conclusion? If it’s in our weakness that Christ is most strong, then Lord, help me, help us, to be more aware of our neediness, our inability, our vulnerability, our deficits so that we can more firmly depend on You.
If you don’t want me to pray for you after reading this post, I do understand, and I won’t be offended. I still might pray for you—but I just won’t mention it to you!