Is there something wrong with asking people to pray for us? Do you feel uncomfortable doing so? Is it selfish? Is there a right way and a wrong way?
I received a prayer request from a friend of mine this morning. It was for a friend of theirs. Nothing wrong with that. And I immediately prayed for their friend. However, it made me reflect on the fact that I don’t often receive prayer requests from people that are for personal needs.
Then I reflected on the fact that I rarely ask for people to pray for me. What stops me? It didn’t bother the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, for example.
“Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honourably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.” (Hebrews 13:18–19 NIV11)
He (or she) wasn’t the only one. Let’s have a look and see what this passage and others teach us about asking for prayer.
1. Be specific in what you request
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews asks for two specific outcomes. Firstly, that he might be “restored” to them. And secondly, that it would be “soon” (see also Philemon .22).
Jesus gives us permission to be specific in our prayers to God: “Give us each day our daily bread….Forgive us our sins…” (Luke 11:3-4 NIV11). If we can be specific in our requests to God, it follows that we can be just as specific when asking our friends to pray for us.
2. Ask for things that will also benefit others
In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul has a personal prayer request. But it is not only for him.
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:19–20 NIV11)
This request is specific, and it is personal. But its answer will also benefit others – that they will come to know the gospel.
3. Be vulnerable in your requests
In the passage above Paul is implying that he is frightened to preach the gospel. Otherwise, why use the word “fearlessly” twice? Something similar is happening in the Epistle to the Romans:
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favourably received by the Lord’s people there, so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.” (Romans 15:30–32 NIV11)
He is in a “struggle”, he is afraid of the danger from “unbelievers”, and he is anxious that he may not be “favourably received” by God’s people in Jerusalem. This is a significant level of vulnerability from an Apostle.
[callout]’If we can be specific in our requests to God, it follows that we can be just as specific when asking our friends to pray for us.'[/callout]
If the Apostle Paul and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews both felt it was appropriate to ask people to pray for them, we can enjoy the same permission. When we ask people to pray for us, and when we in turn pray for other people, it is as if we are joining hands in prayer.
Let us be specific, mindful of the benefits to others, and vulnerable.
What stops you from asking people to pray for you? What topics do you ask people to pray for when they pray for you?
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
God bless, Malcolm