Prayer – Choose Wisely! Women's Sunday Series

Prayer is powerful. In other words, there’s great power in conversation with our Heavenly Father. sf_ThePowerOfPrayer_0009_Group-1However, prayer is not to be entered into vicariously or without careful thought and consideration. As I mentioned in a previous post; the perfect prayer is silence in His presence. To sit quietly waiting for Him to speak to us with guidance and direction for our daily lives requires courage and confidence in the One with whom we are in relationship.

The same is true when we seek others to join us in prayer. I shutter when I see folks on social media asking for prayer from others who while in our “friends” list or a group member – are virtually unknown to us personally or spiritually. If we don’t know them personally and have a handle on their spiritual maturity; asking them to pray with and for us can be dangerous to say  the least!

Some years ago, I was a member of a well-known international ministry (now defunct). The group met monthly, had a speaker and prayer at the close of the meeting. One evening, I engaged the speaker in considerable dialog because my spiritual ‘gut’ told me he was off base on a number of issues. When it came time for individual and small group prayer; a woman asked to lay hands on me and “pray for me”. She decided I needed prayer because I challenged the chosen speaker. On the other hand, I discerned she was not emotionally stable and had no intention of letting her pray for me – let alone lay hands on me. Needless to say, when I refused her offer, she ran from the room with great flourish and a flood of tears. 

Fortunately, my spiritual mentor at the time was present and confirmed my decision. He assured the others that I knew what I was doing and had followed the Lord’s direction in the matter. It was my first encounter with the potential of prayer in the hands of the wrong folks – hands that would do more damage than good. 

In the ensuing years, I have learned to exercise considerable caution when asking others to pray for me or about a situation near and dear to me.

I watched as a former mentor prayed amiss over my dear spiritual sister who was dying of liver cancer. The woman assured my friend that “by His strips you are healed”. Fortunately, Joyce was savvy enough to know that the healing of which the Lord spoke was spiritual and not always physical. The mentor smugly left the room assured that Joyce would not die. However, a few hours later, my dear friend departed earth for a heavenly realm where there was no more pain and suffering! The last moments I had with her included a wink and a nod that said – “I’m not going to die – I’m just going to a new and magnificent existence out of this world!

Scripture tells us that we can pray amiss. We can pray from our human understanding rather than seeking the Will of the Father in any life matter. His ways are so much higher than ours and often out of our limited human comprehension. It serves us well – and those we hold dear – to enter the prayer closet with assurance that He’ll lead us to pray properly as He directs us to do. That way, we pray in His Will – not our own!

So this brings us to asking others to pray for us. If I know you and know your spiritual maturity is solid; then to ask you to join me in prayer is a safe way to go. But if I don’t – then I must lean on the art of discernment to tell me if I can count on you to pray in His Will – not your own. discernment1-110511092627-phpapp02-thumbnail-4

Discernment is the “faculty of discerning; discrimination; acuteness of judgment and understanding“. It’s deep insight and wisdom that I call “gut level knowledge“. As my spiritual director said time and time again; it’s knowing what I know that I know. No doubt about it!

To throw out a prayer request may be like casting bread upon the water for some. But in reality, it’s risking pools that may be more cesspools than fresh, clean clear water. Says nothing about a person’s spiritual health and well being and everything about their maturity in praying the Will of the Father.

We make assumptions that everyone who says “I’m a Christian” is adequately prepared to pray – for self and others. Nothing is further from the truth. Maturity in prayer is learned over time and at the direction of the Lord and the circumstances He permits in our lives. We learn to pray through adversity more than when times are hunky-dory. I had to learn that silence in His presence was actually what He wanted – and to be obedient was to shut my mouth! It was years before He drew me into that knowledge and wisdom.

Bottom line! As a believer, choose with great caution those who will pray for you and any life situation. Know them – and know them well. Know their level of spiritual maturity. Know if they walk the walk or simply talk the talk. Know if they are basically emotionally healthy folks – personally and spiritually. Let your spiritual ‘gut’ give you that kind of wisdom. You’ll know if they are, or are not, folks you trust to enter a prayer closet on your behalf!

One last thing. While it’s tempting to ask our social media “friends” and group members to pray for us; I suggest it may not be the best choice to make. Turn to those with whom you are more intimately acquainted to join you in conversation with PAPA.

In the long run, it’s better to error on the side of caution than to throw caution to the wind! Your life and that of others may depend on it!

Blessings,

Linda

Linda S. Fitzgerald, Visionary Partner
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-xap1/v/t1.0-1/p160x160/10933880_10152999878054264_1749306739390848122_n.jpg?oh=3b9b3e144f0b306aa0cc748b03d9dd6a&oe=55550352&__gda__=1432002183_d9a5e0b3a35fc3cfbbe66ed7bc7658c9[/author_image] [author_info]My passion is to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]

 

Linda S. Fitzgerald

I have a fiery passion to see women become all they are designed to be - personally and professionally. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness.

5 Comments

  1. Cathy Bedel on February 23, 2015 at 8:57 am

    I’ve been praying and pondering over this for a day. You asked for thoughts and my heart has some, Linda. I definitely understand the points you’ve made, but perhaps there is more to be said about this.

    I firmly believe our Father wants us to pray for each other. It should not matter the “words” that come out in prayer for I believe prayer is 99% heart and intention. (Lord knows the words that come out in my spontaneous prayer are not even close to what my heart is saying to Him.) Now if I thought my sister or brother praying for me had motives other than love or a desire to bring me or my loved one comfort or healing (physical or spiritual) from our Father, I could reject their request to pray for me- this may have been the case in your example. But I guess the Lord has been kind enough to shelter me from having to do this. Would we not look at prayer from others as an opportunity for growth- either theirs or ours?

    We are an imperfect people and each of us is on our own journey to what we hope will continue infinitely in unity with God in heaven. How can we share what He as enlightened upon us if we are rejecting the prayers or stifling the prayer requests of others just because they have not gained “spiritual maturity?”

    I see no problem asking for prayer in whatever way is appropriate for his or her comfort level. If it is through social media, even though I am not comfortable asking this way, there will be brothers and sisters that will grab that request and pray. In fact it is one reason I joined FB so that I could better know the dealings of my larger friend group and insert specific prayer for them when needed and of course asking all things according to His Will. Of course there is a special responsibility to a prayer request asked of us specifically, but why not grab these FB requests and pray and maybe even use it as an opportunity to reach out beyond that if we are called to do so? Prayer is prayer and isn’t that what God wants, for us; to come to Him when we are heavily burdened or full of joy and thanksgiving or whenever?

    I am only a humble servant. I do feel God wants us to reach out to Him and trust Him and we can only do that through prayer and having conversations with our brothers and sisters. When there is an opportunity to redirect or enlighten, we should. (The misguided speaker, the mentor whose interpretation of healing was off… because you are obviously enlightened) I see these situations as opportunities for all parties involved to grow closer to God, even if we poof up a bit and walk away in these passionate moments, we can always use that walk to flatten out a bit and return with a message to share.

    With love and sincerity… Cathy

    • linda on February 27, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      Cathy,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. First the words we use in prayer are very important and Scripture does admonish us to pray in His will and not to pray amiss. And the place I believe He wants us to be is when our minds/hearts and words are in one accord with His will so that every aspect of our being is lining up with Him – and His will.

      I’ve also learned over the years that many things we pray for require action on the part of someone of an earthly nature – like you or me. The Lord brings to mind the paralytic man whose friends lowered him from the roof of the house where Jesus was. Jesus could have said a lengthy prayer over the man and his situation, but He didn’t. He simply said, “take up your mat and walk”. In other words, the man’s condition was the result of something emotional-psychological that Jesus simply commanding him to get up and walk was what it took. In that way, what Jesus said was crucially important and in its essence was a prayer.

      For me, it’s about discerning who to ask to pray for me and how to ask them to pray. And because Jesus urged us to go into our closet, close the door and engage the Father in conversation; I feel that throwing everything onto social media is not abiding by the admonition to draw away quietly.

      And I can tell you from experience that there are folks – well meaning folks – we definitely don’t want praying for us.

      Again, thanks so much for your thoughtful response. It’s all a matter of growing in Him and as we do, He will teach us about prayer and how to do so.

      Blessings,

      Linda

  2. Diane Markins on February 23, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Oh you are so bold Linda! This is a topic that is much deeper than the average bear (Yogi or BooBoo) wants to tackle. You may notice that I don’t post prayer requests. Having someone possibly pray to a false God, pray in a way that is not aligned with God’s will or even far from the desire of the heart of the requester are all at risk. Instead, I send a private message to those I trust to stand before the Lord on my behalf.

    I support those who pray continuously for others and invite FB prayer because they are most likely intending to be a conduit to the Almighty. I frequently do pray when I see those requests: “Lord, you know this person and this issue, please bring comfort and peace and your very best to them and let them see you at work.” Some of those fine warriors whom others turn to as a source of increased numbers for intercession are passionate, sincere and being used mightily because of their faith. What ensues after the request is posted may be another matter.

    And yet… there are a lot of people who don’t have anyone to stand with them in prayer so they seek it through their FB community- and those whom they see leading the charge. (Ginny Hamlin!)

    I have such intense appreciation for prayer on my behalf! I have only a small handful of people on my little prayer team to cover the work I do and it’s because each of them has felt called to consistently cover me and intercede. Others would do it out of obligation and their words would be much less powerful; “lukewarm.”

    Tough, touchy topic. I hope sincere intercessors aren’t hurt or discourage (or offended) and continue to do as the Lord has directed. Prayer is a discipline that is necessary and precious.

    Thanks for being willing to step way out on that skinny limb to talk about this.

    • linda on February 27, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      Thanks much Diane! I guess I didn’t realize it’s a touchy subject, but then PAPA has a way of leading me where His angels fear to tread lol!

      Prayer is not just a discipline, but a way of life. As Paul said, we are to pray continuously. Well it would be difficult to exercise the discipline of prayer every moment of the day if we are having to draw away into our prayer closet. I have come to discern that prayer is in the very breaths we take, the actions we pursue each day, etc. – when we do them in His Name and because it is the purpose for which He created us. That doesn’t mean we aren’t whispering our needs, requests, questions, etc. to him on a regular basis throughout the day; and when we know that He knows what we don’t – then placing ourselves in His hands each moment becomes prayer-perfect as well.

      You are correct – it’s a deep subject and one which most believers take for granted or at least don’t delve into beyond a rapid repeat of the Lord’s prayer in church on Sunday and maybe mid-week service. Oops sorry, my biases are showing. . .

      Thanks so much for your precious friendship in the Lord and as a woman of deep faith and committed to the benefit and welfare of women everywhere!

      Blessings,
      Linda

      • Diane Markins on February 27, 2015 at 3:12 pm

        i think we are on the same page. I do believe we should be discerning about with whom we share our prayer needs and on the flip side, seek the heart of God and leading of the Holy Spirit when we commit to pray for others.

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