Sue, a YWAM trainer who attends my church, was preparing a bunch of us for an upcoming city intercession event. I assumed her Saturday morning class would be mostly a refresher for me. But it ended up being more than that.
Instead of handing out lists of prayer topics, Sue challenged us to get cues from the Holy Spirit and our sanctified imaginations.
She started by telling us about friends of hers in India who have made a home for boys they rescued off the streets of Delhi. She passed around a photo of them and very briefly described what life was like for these kids if no one rescues them.
Then, she divided us into two groups and instructed the first to form a circle. I was part of the first group. Then the second group formed a larger circle around our circle. Those of us in inside circle were to pretend we were boys living on the streets of Delhi. Sue handed volleyball to one of us.
“Say out loud something that you need as a young Indian boy living on the streets,” Sue directed. “Then toss the ball to someone behind you and let that person pray for your need.”
The first person was a bit tentative. “I need food.”
He tossed the ball to someone behind him who prayed a simple prayer asking God to provide nutritious food for the homeless boys. That person tossed the ball to another “boy” in the inner circle who stated a different need, and the ball kept moving in similar fashion.
As we intentionally put ourselves in these kids’ shoes, it surprised me the breadth of things we prayed about. We covered the obvious—food, shelter, clean water, and spiritual salvation. But then, as we continued to listen to God and to let the Holy Spirit guide our imaginations, we began to pray for less obvious things. We prayed for God to give the boys hopes and dreams. To give them godly role models. To provide opportunities for them to play and just be kids. To learn trades or vocations. To pursue wives and families. To have vision correction. To learn to read—especially the Bible. To remain pure in mind and body. For God to redeem their difficulties in kingdom-expanding ways.
We prayed like this for a good 20 minutes—and could have gone on even longer. I think I can safely say that by imagining ourselves in the places of these young boys, every one of us was moved to compassion. And for sure, we prayed passionately for a group of people we’d never given any thought to before.
Since that Saturday morning exercise, I’ve tried putting this same idea into practice for other types of people who live in worlds far removed from my own.
This morning, for example, I put myself in the shoes of Afghani and Syrian refugees who are flooding into Europe. Tomorrow I might pray for
- Government officials in developing nations
- Minority-race people in your community
- People in Africa who recently lost family members to Ebola
- Families with special-need children
- Missionaries working in restricted-access countries
- Young people sold to human traffickers
- Orphans who are about to age out of the system
What about you? Want to try it? If you do, would you let me know how it goes? How does God expand the way you pray? The types of people you pray for? How are you changed in the process?