If you have walked in Christian circles for any amount of time at all, it has happened to you. An individual confides in you about a prayer need in his or her life and requests that you would pray for them. How do we respond? I’ve never heard anyone say, “No, I don’t have time for that, but good luck.” Of course not, we normally 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 in my life 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 the solution to this problem, it is simple, and I have made it a practice in my life. I challenge my students to do it, and I am challenging each of you to practice this solution. 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 are driving and talking on the cell phone, stop, KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN, and pray. It does not have to be a long prayer, but it should be a sincere prayer. It does not have to be the only prayer time but the beginning of prayer for the situation.
I have found this practice to accomplish two important things in my prayer life:
- I never lie to anyone when I commit to pray about a matter. I said I would 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 I crossed paths with that individual the next time.
- The second thing this practice accomplished took me slightly by surprise. I have found that when I stop and pray RIGHT THEN, 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.
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, that you will stop right then and seek God’s face together. 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?
Tommy Kiker serves as assistant professor of pastoral theology, James T. Draper Jr. Chair of Pastoral Ministry, and chair of the pastoral ministry department at Southwestern Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog at www.tommykiker.com. Follow him on Twitter @tommykiker.