A New Way to Pray for Family and Close Friends

Teach Us to IntercedePrayer is having a conversation with God.

Intercessory prayer is one kind of prayer: praying for other people.

When we intercede, we usually present to God a list of concerns for others that we have been made aware of: they’ve asked us to pray, another person has asked us to pray for them, we’ve observed their struggles and decided to pray. We collect these requests then choose a time to present them to God in prayer.

But if prayer really is having a conversation with God, then intercession can be so much more than presenting a list of concerns. I believe that we can learn to pray with God about people instead of simply praying to God for people. I also believe that as we do so, we’ll be allowing Him, if He so chooses, to use us more effectively in the process of answering those prayers.

This is how it works:

1. Begin by telling God all the things you love about the person you are praying for. This will allow God to go to work on your heart. If there are hidden resentments or other problems, God will reveal these as you attempt to focus on the positive. You’ll be having a conversation with God about this person, and as you do, God will prepare your heart to intercede by helping you go into it with the right attitude.

2. Take some time to thank God for that person’s presence in your life. Officially recognize and recount ways God has used that person to positively influence you. Let God show you how this person is one of His gifts to you. Thank Him for the gift.

3. Ask God to show you how you can love that person in His name. Ask Him to give you specific ideas. Determine to be alert to His promptings throughout the day—and ask Him to help you with this. When you follow through, that will be your opportunity to work with God, allowing Him to use you however He chooses to answer your prayers. If you don’t see an opportunity or feel prompted to do anything out of the ordinary, trust God with this. He may use you without your knowledge. He may use someone else to meet a need. He may have something else in mind. His ways are always best.

4. Finally, present any known requests on that person’s behalf. Present them one at a time, thoughtfully. Again, be open and alert to anything God’s Spirit may suggest to you. Thank God for all He plans to do in this person’s life.

Praying this way for everyone we love every day is probably too much to ask. If ever we’re aware of something serious, that can be a prompt to take the time to do this. And, of course, we can whisper Parachute Prayers on the spot whenever we learn of a need. Here’s a fun suggestion, though, for scheduling time to pray for those in our close circles regularly:

  • Make a list of the people you consider family and close friends, people you want to pray for regularly just because you love them.
  • Write the number of their birthday beside their name. For example, if your mother was born on May 4, write a four beside her name.
  • When a person’s number rolls around every month, pray for that person on that day. Using the above example, on the fourth of every month, you’d pray for your mom.
  • Because some people have birthdays at the end of long months, pray for those people on the last day of the month, so you’ll still get to focus on them twelve times (at the very least – always be open to pray more often if God calls you to).

Caution: please don’t ever let a suggestion such as this one, simply a useful tool, become a burden. Talking with God about the people we love is meant to be a joyful privilege—never something we have to do on this day-at that time-no matter what-or else.

Father, please teach us to pray with You about the people You’ve placed in our lives. However You lead us to do so, help us to enjoy our visit with you and to learn if and how we can help as You work in their lives. Teach us to love. Teach us to encourage. Teach us to obey. We love you, Lord. Amen.


Praying by Memory

Parachute Prayer PostShortly after our family moved to the Netherlands, I went on a road trip with a few of the ladies from our chapel to visit the Ten Boom* Clock Shop in Haarlem. We were about halfway there when we stopped at a rest stop. One friend said, “I don’t really need to go in there, but I’ve learned that on a road trip you never pass up the opportunity.” Ever since then, whenever my family pulls into a rest stop on a road trip, I think of this friend.

She might think this is an unfortunate way to be remembered, but it makes me smile. I also remember her whenever I get to buy lunch for a friend because, on that same trip, she insisted on buying lunch, saying, “If the day ever comes when I can’t afford to buy lunch for my friends, I will be in dire need.” Since she and I had only just met, I was touched to be considered a friend so quickly. That memory has stuck with me.

Prayer for MentorsWhen actions of my own such as these (stopping on a road trip or buying lunch for a friend) remind me of someone I’ve admired or appreciated, I see that as a call to prayer. As I take time to enjoy the memory, I thank God for the friend and whisper a prayer for her. If we’ve kept in touch over the years, I may know how to pray specifically. But even if we haven’t, God knows her situation, so I can ask Him to provide whatever she needs. The memory may even be the Holy Spirit’s way of prompting me to pray at just the right time for a serious concern. Knowing this, I’m even more thankful for precious memories that remind me to pray.

Father, thank You for the gift of memory and for the people You’ve blessed our lives with throughout the years. As memories of these people enter our minds, please prompt us to pray . . . to show our gratitude . . . to honor our friends . . . to intercede for them. Amen.

If you’d like to learn more about Parachute Prayer, my new book is now available on Amazon.

*For the record, Boom is pronounced Bohm. Corrie was too sweet to correct the American pronunciation, but as one who spent her growing up years explaining and defending the pronunciation of her maiden name, I feel the need to set the record straight. The tour guide at the clock shop agreed. (And, in case you were wondering, Benlien is pronounced Ben-lynn. But that’s a story for another day.)

I’ve shared this post on the Grace & Truth Link Up! Visit that site to find more inspirational thoughts this weekend.


Praying for Our Circles

In his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster says, “We are responsible before God to pray for those God brings into our circle of nearness.” This pretty much means that we are to pray for the people God brings into our lives. Parachute PrayerWe’re to pray for the people we come into contact with daily, the people we communicate with often over distance, the people we hear about who need to be remembered in prayer.

And don’t we all need to be remembered in prayer?

That thought aside, my imagination went to work when I read Richard Foster’s words. I pictured myself sitting on a park bench in the center of a circle that only I could see, quietly praying for each person who just happened to be located within that circle.

I’m not sure that that’s what Richard Foster had in mind when he said we’re responsible to pray for everyone God brings into our circle of nearness, but I do know it’s how some of my Parachute Prayers work: praying for everyone in the doctor’s office or grocery check-out line as we wait, praying for children we see walking to or from school, praying for people who happen to come to our door or call on the phone. Our circles of nearness can be defined in many ways.

To remember this concept and our responsibility, let’s use circles as our cue. Whenever we see circles, let’s pause to pray for the people who are in our circles, whether we’re praying for our family circle, our circle of friends, a Google+ circle we belong to, or everyone who happens to be standing in an imaginary circle we draw with our minds wherever we happen to be.

Father, remind us often of our responsibility to pray for the people You bring into our lives. And please find us faithful for their good, for Your glory, and for our growth. Amen.

Note: I’m sharing this post with the A Little R & R linky party.