It all too easy to pray for my will to be done when I’m interceding for others. When my loved ones have a need or they are hurting, I know what I want for them: I want the pain to go away and the need to be met, ASAP! But if I pray that way, I’m risk being short-sighted. God’s plans for my friends and family—even if they are not always quick—are far more wise, good, and loving than mine.
So how do I pray? I pray Scripture! But I don’t just reach for my concordance, either.
In my early days of praying Scripture, that’s what I would do. If the person I was praying for had overdue bills, I’d ransack my Bible to for promises that God provide. If the person was sick, I’d do the same, looking for verses about healing. It was an intercessor’s version of proof texting.* It was certainly a lot better than presumptuously offering God my best ideas for how to handle the situation. Nevertheless, He’s shown me something even better.
Take yesterday, for example. Some friends SOS’d me with a prayer request. They have recently moved to a different country where Christians are few and far between. They have not yet found a church. They have not yet made many friends. One couple who looked as if they might be friend potential unexpectedly announced that they were moving. It was hard for my friends not to be discouraged.
I wasn’t sure how to pray—but I figured God would know. So I asked Him. Specifically, I asked Him to lead me to Scripture to pray for my friends. Quickly, Scriptures started coming to mind. They weren’t “promises” per se; they were verses about other people in the Bible who had felt alone—and what God had done about it.
I thought of Elijah who said he was the only one left—but God corrected him and said that he still had “7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (1 Kings 19:18, NLT). Then, one after another, I thought of biblical examples of lonely servants of God whom God had blessed with companions: to Moses, He gave Aaron; to David, He gave Jonathan; to Naomi, He gave Ruth; to Saul, He gave Barnabas.
In almost no time, God had showed me how to pray. I think He was telling me that though my friends felt isolated and alone, overwhelmed by the path ahead of them, they were not alone. I feel quite sure that He was leading me to pray for Christian companions for my friends. So that is what I did.
God is a relational God. He loves conversation. So why should I rack my brains trying to figure out the best Scriptures to pray? It’s much easier just to ask Him! He seems more than glad to show me. And this is just one more of the ways He is growing my friendship with Him.
* Using a biblical quotation to justify a theological position, without regard for the context of the passage from which the quotation comes.