Is perhaps one of the most common sins among Christians the quick declaration of “I will pray for you” and never a word is spoken? With the overwhelming use of social media for a myriad of purposes, including the posting of prayer requests and concerns, Christians tend to quickly respond with a simple comment promising their commitment to pray on behalf of the person involved. I wonder how often these comments are actually followed up by a sincere prayer.
All of us from time to time may forget a prayer commitment we made to another person. For most of us, however, expressing our intention to pray is not an isolated occurrence. I dare say most Christians will express their promise to pray for another person at least once a day. This happens through a text message or on a phone call or over lunch or on Facebook. Not only do we break our word when we fail to keep our promise, an action the Bible speaks of quite seriously, but we also deny the person the power of our prayer to God. Prayer is war. And your prayer for that person is another round of artillery in a desperate battle.
As the New Year is coming closer, here are a few things I try to do (albeit, not always successfully) to keep my promise to pray.
1. Pray Immediately. This is the most important principle to implement. Prayers do not have to be 10 minutes long to be effective. When you write “I’m praying for you” or tell that person in church “I’ll pray”, do it right then. Bow your head at the keyboard or grab the person by the shoulder and start praying. This is my #1 defense from breaking my prayer promise and you will find it to be not only effective in keeping your promises, but also a way to keep your prayer life active every day. Got it? Pray on the spot.
2. Ask the person to text or email you the request. If you are somewhere where immediate prayer is not an option (which is very rare), ask the person to email or text you the request. Then, when you read that email or text a bit later, go to point #1.
3. Don’t be overwhelmed. Praying for a person does not mean you have to pray everyday at the same time for 5 years. A commitment to pray may be one prayer on their behalf.
4. Keep a prayer journal. This not only helps you keep track of requests, but also gives you the opportunity to write in your journal when God answers the request. This is one of the great mistakes of our prayer life – not recognizing when God responds.
5. Don’t let the phrase “I’ll pray” be a cop out. Sometimes we agree to pray for someone as a way to avoid actually investing time to listen, talk, and draw close. If you say “I’ll pray” primarily as a way to end the conversation, then there are other issues at stake.