Faithfulness in prayer has been a weakness of mine at times, especially when it comes to my friends.
I was convicted by the example of a friend of mine who is excellent at keeping track of everyone’s prayer requests and checking back in with them.
She’s done it for me, and I’ve witnessed her do it for others many times.
At first I thought maybe this is just her personality or her unique gifting.
And while that may be true – that some people are better suited to remembering personal information and praying about it – I was convicted that I actually didn’t make much effort in that area.
Practically speaking, it wasn’t a high priority.
An offer to pray is not a prayer
Sometimes I think we offer the words “I’ll pray for you” to our friends in their hardships as though just the words will be a comfort to them, regardless of whether we actually pray or not.
Sadly, I can think back to times when I’ve said “I’ll pray for you” and then not actually followed through. I’ve since been convicted that not only is this being untrustworthy, it’s also taking the Lord’s name in vain.
In saying we’ll pray for someone, we’re invoking a sense of God’s power in an effort to comfort that person, while not actually appealing to His power. And while it might comfort them briefly, simply saying the word “prayer” or “pray” doesn’t do anything. It’s not a magic incantation or a chant.
The power of prayer is in the power of the One we are praying to.
Praying to a Hindu god, a saint or “the universe” doesn’t do anything. It might temporarily make the pray-er* feel good, but false gods are unable to hear, speak or do anything.
So when we say we will pray for someone, but then we don’t, what does that show about our belief in God?
Since being convicted of this, I’ve asked God to help me be a more faithful pray-er.
We have an amazing opportunity as Christian women to pray for each other. There are so many situations we can do nothing about; so many troubles we don’t have an answer for. But we DO have access to the One who can change anything, and in Whom all wisdom is found.
Let’s not pass up the wonderful ministry of prayer!
Ask God to change your heart
If you struggle to pray for your friends, the first step is… prayer!
We can’t change our hearts by sheer will power. Only God can do that.
And our actions flow out of our heart.
Ask God to soften your heart to the needs of others, to increase your faith that He really can change things, and to give you the perseverance to be faithful in prayer.
As the Lord says, whatever we ask in His name (that means, in accordance with His will) he will grant to us (John 15:16).
Pray when they come to mind
My minister’s wife once made a comment about prayer that has really stuck with me for its wisdom. She was asking about the health of one of my family members, and after I told her how they were going, she said, “I’ll pray for them when they come to mind.”
At first, it sounded quite stark. Especially since I was used to hearing “I’ll pray for them” without the qualifier.
But I think it’s brilliant because it’s actually realistic.
Rather than promising to pray for someone’s sick uncle, and then having to remember to do so, you can simply promise to pray when they come to mind.
We all have people or conversations pop into our mind from time to time, so why not use that as a prayer prompt?
It doesn’t have to be a long prayer – just one or two sentences asking for God’s help in their situation.
Pray right away
Another great tip I heard is when you tell someone you will pray for them, do it right away.
This is especially helpful if you get lots of prayer requests over the internet or text message. You can put your phone down for a second, close your eyes, and pray for them immediately.
Sometimes I like to do this even before writing back to the person, because then I can say “I prayed for you”.
It seems to encourage people more than simply saying “I will pray for you.”
Keep a prayer journal and check up on people
If your friends have more complex or ongoing prayer requests, you can keep note of them in a prayer journal. (If you don’t have a prayer journal, you can just keep a weekly note in your phone calendar or your weekly planner.)
This is a great way to grow in faithfulness as a praying friend because it keeps you accountable and it keeps you praying beyond that first instance where they ask for prayer.
It’s also really encouraging for your friends when you check back in with them and say, “Hey, I’ve been praying for your situation with xyz, how’s that going?”
It shows them you were really listening, you really care, and you haven’t forgotten.
I know I have personally been so blessed when my friends have checked back in with me about my prayer requests.
You can also note down any answers to prayer they have received, as an encouragement to your own faith and to encourage them in the future.
Set up prayer prompts
Another way you can remind yourself to pray for certain people is to set up prayer prompts around your house.
In the past, I’ve literally just used post-it notes saying “pray for _____” stuck around my computer desk. But you could also mentally attach a particular object or part of your routine to praying for someone.
For example, pray for your husband every time you brush your teeth. Or pray for your kids every time you wash the dishes.
Make prayer habitual, natural and a regular occurrence through your day by setting up these reminders.
Pray the Scriptures for them
When you don’t know what to pray for someone, pray the words of the Bible. There are so many great examples of prayer in God’s word!
And the good thing about praying the words of scripture is that they transcend whatever circumstance someone is in. You don’t need to know the details of someone’s life to pray for them in a deep and effective way.
You can pray for any of your friends that God would “fill them with all joy and peace as they trust in Him” (Romans 15:13) because that’s good for everyone. You can pray that God would “sanctify them through and through, and that their whole spirit, soul and body would be kept blameless at the coming of Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:23) because this is God’s desire for every Christian.
I made some free printable prayer cards and put them in my resource library to help you with this – half of them have some of my favourite prayers from the Bible, and half of them are blank.
You can get them here (the password is at the bottom of every email newsletter).
Praying for those around us is the beautiful privilege of every Christian woman.
We get to pray for our friends, to an almighty God. We’re not the ones who have the power to change anything, but He allows us to be part of the process.
What a gift!
Let’s never take it for granted.
*I googled it, and apparently the word for “one who prays” is precant but I’ve never heard anyone use that word before let alone used it myself, so it felt disingenuous to copy and paste (even though it’s technically the correct word for the job). Instead I opted for “pray-er”, which is not really a word at all, but I’m sure everyone knows what I mean 😀