In a world of endless options and limitless needs to be met, sometimes a simple thing like praying for others can seem a bit overwhelming. Where do we even start?
How Do We Prayer Well for Others?
To me, the answer is a no-brainer.
I’ve become convinced in recent years that my starting point in prayer for others is quite simple. Whether I’m praying for my best friends, a recent acquaintance, the President, or my mom, my go-to priority prayer doesn’t waver.
Top Prayer Requests:
My go-to prayer requests focus on my friend’s (or whoever’s) most important relationship(s) to be healthy, vibrant, and strong. My top requests are this:
#1 Relationship with God
That God + MY FRIEND would have a rich, vibrant, deep relationship that defines that person’s life.
#2 Relationship with Spouse
That MY FRIEND + their spouse (either present or future if they have or will have one) would be faithful to one another (before and after marriage) and would have a healthy, vibrant, strong relationship with each other that keeps Christ at the center.
NOTE: for single friends, I put priority here their top relationships.
Put Relationship with God First
Whatever comes in life- whether a beautiful baby with a disability, a promotion, a diagnosis of cancer beyond repair, or a dream fulfilled- I know that those I love will have lasting, eternal success and fulfillment if their relationship with God is what it was meant to be.
If my loved one struggling with an addiction can embrace God for all He longs to be for them, I know He will give them all they need to deal with the addiction and keep going. If my dear friend struggling with abandonment embraces God’s unfailing, unwavering love, I know that they will be satisfied on the deepest level. If my dear friend passing his last days with his wife and children know God truly, for all He is, his last days can honor God and honor the life He has made, no matter how dark they become.
A rich, growing, deep relationship with God grounds each person in what really matters. Focusing on this first is the only way to deal with every other possible thing they could ever need prayer for.
Put Relationship with Spouse Next
I’ll never forget the aftermath on my Bible college peers when the head of the missions department stepped down, confessing to an affair. The weight of our many of our own parents’ marital struggles and failures was heavy enough to make us wonder if we could make it. If we could have a healthy, committed, marriage that honors God’s design for marriage for life. And then this. The head of the missions department.
The man that taught me how to share the Gospel in a new, effective way. The man that taught me practically how to be a world changer for God in whatever piece of the world God placed me. He invested in people wherever he went and shared Christ wherever he went.
Everyone studying at my college was there because they were planning to go into full-time ministry. We were shaken. I still remember my conclusion with those closest to me: Marriage is something that for the rest of our days, we have to completely, desperately depend on God moment by moment for it to honor Him. It requires complete humility from everyone- anyone could fall; complete dependence on God; and great care to preserve and nurture.
Our former missions director had the long walk of re-winning his wife’s trust, and she the long road of forgiveness. My hope is they are in a whole place now and that all those his life touched saw Christ even more brilliantly through that forgiveness and rebuilding. – That their marriage continues to reflect the love and forgiveness of Christ.
I think of many others that did not repent- would not come back. Dear ones, near ones to myself and those I love. Others that weren’t committed to a long hard road of rebuilding even though they were sorry. And I see the aftermath in the children, and in their own lives. And I am sad.
And I pray harder for those I care about. Second to relationship with God, I pray for their marriages to be whole, healthy, strong, respectful, loving, and Christ-centered.
For those who are single (I was single almost my entire life till I was 25 and, though I wanted to marry, thought perhaps I’d remain that way all my days) I pray for a special depth in their closeness to God. I pray if they are to marry that God would help them remain faithful in all ways to their future spouse. Whether or not they will ever marry, I pray for all their closest relationships, including all the young ones they might “mother” or “father” as a single person.
Prayer needs and quality prayers to pray are endless and beautiful. These prayers naturally move right into praying for all the other relationships vital in my friends’ lives- those with any children they may have (by birth or by relationship), those with the Church, those with the lost. Why do I start with these?
Well, if a dear one really loves God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and is confident in God’s active presence in their life- then how could they not love Him back with their lives? How could they not be mold-able clay in His hand, allowing Him to do all He wants in and through their lives to reflect Himself to a lost and dying world that needs His restoration? If they are sold on God’s faithfulness, presence, perfection, and might, God can get them through anything.
God says in John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” That verse is about followers of Christ loving each other within the Church (so critical). Marriage looks at this from a focused angle. Marriage is meant to capture in a spectacular and special way Christ’s relationship with the Church. Marriages are designed to reflect this like a mirror. The damage when this fails- to the marriage partners, the children, the Church, the community is devastating. So, I start here praying for the relationships of those I love, those I care about, those I know only slightly, those I’ve never met.
They are a starting place in prayer. Two, foundation starting places that I’ve found helpful to focus on.
What about you? What are your top prayer requests for others? Share in the comments below!