Tuesday, February 26, 2008

PRAYER - The other side - prayer requests

I was contacted by a dear blog friend (you know who you are!) who e-mailed me with her thoughts about my post on prayer yesterday, along with this request:

"To further that, I was wondering if you would write sometime about the other side of the prayer fence, asking for prayers. I struggle with this a lot in that I often times think people ask for prayer for attention."

I was a little taken aback by the request because to be truthful I had, to that point, not thought about the side of the Prayer Requests. I have been pondering, thinking and praying about this request for the past 3 hours or so since getting the e-mail.

At this point in my life with God I do see that EVERYTHING comes from God and does not take God by surprise, althought a LOT of things surely take me by surprise. I've also begun to try and immediately respond to things as I feel God is placing them before me. As an example, 2 weeks ago I received a telephone call on a Saturday morning from our Sunday School teacher requesting me to teach the Sunday School class the next day because both he, and his wife, were ill. In the natural I wanted to say "no". Actually, in the natural I wanted to run the other direction quickly. BUT, I knew that it was more than the Sunday School teacher making this request and that God was asking me to step out of my comfort zone and walk in faith and trust with him. After only a few minutes hesitation (which seemed like at least a 1/2 hour to me) I said, yes.

I view this request in the same vane, while coming from a dear blog friend in the natural, really coming from God and stretching me to think, and respond about an area of prayer I really had not given much thought or attention to. So in obedience to that I will endeavor to put down my thoughts.

I guess the reason I haven't given the issue about asking for prayer too much attention is because Mickey & I are not really much ones to request prayer. Now occasionally, if something really big or tramatic comes up in our lives I will, and have, asked for prayer. Even here on this blog in the last year I know I have put out a general request on a couple of occasions that we coveted your prayers. The incidents concerned our beloved Granddaughter's decision when she left Tulsa and us for a while, and when our son returned from California and was facing some big issues and problems in his life.

Now that I really have begun to look at it I have to ask myself a couple of questions: 1) Do I not ask out of pride and a feeling of self sufficiency; 2) Do I not ask out of a feeling that it's my problem and I shouldn't bother others with it; or 3) Do I feel, that except for those rare occasions, it is my own responsibility to "come boldly to the throne room of God" and "storm the gates of hell" myself on behalf of my self and my loved ones and others needs.

At this point of just beginning to analyze this I'd have to say it's probably a little bit of all three. I truly see ourselves as having complete and total access to our Father God and not needing an intermediatary of any kind because we have Jesus as our advocate, sitting at the right hand of God ever making intercession for us. Because we have walked with the Lord and seen so many victories in our lives I know that I have a God that not only hears our prayers but answers our prayers. I know sometimes we do not see the manifestation of that answer immediate, or how we thought it should be. But, I know he hears and he answers!!!!!

As I'm writing this I see that I'm really addressing it more in a personal way than the actual question about other people making prayer requests. In response to that, and in agreement with the questioner, I do have to say that I have known people who seem to always be asking for the same thing, over and over again, and sometimes asking for things that ,in my humble opinion, are issues they should be dealing with and addressing themselves. BUT, having said that we must remember that we are the body of Christ and that we are there to fulfill the needs of the other members of the body. Period........and without reservation and without judgement. We are certainly all at different areas in this journey with our Lord. And we have to constantly remind ourselves it is a journey and not a destination. None of us have arrived!!!!

I am not happy with this post. It is rambling and not thought out. It is sitting down at this keyboard and typing my Penless thoughts as they flow from my mind and Spirit. I know I have done what God has placed before me and called me to do at this moment in time and space. I trust that those who He directs to read this will understand and show me the same grace He does!!!

This was a post that I wrote at 3:15 and sat on until now to re-read and decide if I was going to post it or not.

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jennifer said...

Susan I loved every word of this and Sunday I expereinced that same lack of.....satisfaction? with what I had written. It took me two LLLOOOONNNGGG posts to try to convey my feeling about Jesus. I am completely comfortable asking for prayer on behalf of others. And often I may glibbly tell someone "Pray for me." But the things that I hold inside of me seem to personal to ask others to intercede about. That sounds like pride to me, like you observed in your post. I think as long as we ponder the things of God in our hearts, we are doing the right thing. I don't think we can understand everything but I think we should constantly seek Godly wisdom. This post has been wonderful. I always get a blessing from you.

I've put a link on my website to get updated on Erin, the 14 year old.
See you soon, Jennifer

Dawn said...

The last two posts have been very thoughtfully done and thought-provoking. I find myself requesting prayer often, and have seen wonderful answers from this wonderful world of blogging Christian friends.

I do know what you're saying about promising to pray - I try not to unless I know I will!

diana said...

susan, i think you did a great job with this post, even if you think it's rambling. it's made me think about the question at hand. i'll share my thoughts and hopefully it won't be too long.

i think if people really believe in the power of prayer, they can ask for prayers without it being an attention getter. i ask for prayers from people who i know will really be praying for me.

isn't intecessory prayer a spiritual gift? so even though i know God is there to answer my prayer even if i'm the only one praying, i believe that it's His will for others to intercede for me. one reason being that He can use other people to speak to me once they know my situation (and have prayed themselves). that can be part of His answer to my prayer.

i'm glad you felt God asking you to respond to this. a lot of bloggers look to you for wisdom, and i think that's what you've shared here.

Anonymous said...

Your blog friend who wrote that to you hit the nail right on the head. I have always wondered that, too. (If people ask for prayer just to get attention). I am glad I am not the only one- I never said it out loud, because I thought others would think I was horrible.

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

I think you did just fine with this post!

Penless Thoughts said...

Jennifer - But the things that I hold inside of me seem to personal to ask others to intercede about." I think you said it well there. Thank you for that input. The bible even says "Mary (the mother of Jesus) pondered these things in her heart".

Dawn - You are a living example of answered prayer here in Blogland and a real testimony to us on that. Thank you!!

Diana - As I was writing I realized I failed to mention anything about true intessory prayer gifting and I certainly believe in that wonderful gift and that it must be used for the body. I always appreciate your very thoughtful comments and insight.

Danielle - I think we all struggle with what others will think and yet that truly is an area I am striving to "get over" and be true to the things God places in my heart and honest on this blog.

Michelle - Thanks! You are always so kind and thoughtful.

Thanks so much to ALL of you. I love it when people really open up and give their opinions on these very important issues that we all struggle with.

Anonymous said...

Susan, I found this very interesting. As you know I have asked you many times to be praying for me. I believe that there is enormous power in prayer and when Christians join together to lift one another up God moves.

All too often I think as fellow believers we forget to put prayer first and to bear one anothers burdens.

I know I have made it through some tough times because I could not find the words to speak to my Father, but others were interceeding on my behalf.

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

Thank you so very much Susan. Far from rambling, these two posts have given me much insight from a very dear and respected blog friend.

Dawn said...

One more thought - when we were going through the toughest thing in our lives, we kept it from our families - both personal and church. We tried to go it alone. We were ashamed. I truly believe God wants us as His Body to carry the burdens of those who are in crisis, who don't have the energy to pray for themselves.

annie said...

I think I agree with all you said in this post and thought your words made perfect sense. It's an issue with Izzy. We don't take her down for prayer repeatedly, usually only if someone asks us to get her from children's church or if we really feel a desire to do so. We pray over her as a family all the time, every day, every hour. I would never ask for prayers for her to get attention, the opposite is more true... I hesitate to ask for prayers because I don't want to draw too much attention...

Randi Jo :) said...

I enjoyed this post! I think the entries that we just sit and let the words flow are sometimes the best! I enjoy the ramblings of our hearts! :) best wishes!

Randi Jo :) said...

I enjoyed this post! I think the entries that we just sit and let the words flow are sometimes the best! I enjoy the ramblings of our hearts! :) best wishes!

ginger at enchanting cottage said...

Susan, Thank-you so much I enjoyed this post. At our church we have a prayer class every Monday at 6:30 it is small maybe only 8 people sometimes less sometimes more. But it is a place where people give the church cards and then we pray about it on Monday. I like this because it is very private. What we pray about in that room stays in that room, so people don't have to feel like they are being judged.Each week we seem to get more and more blue cards. And as the weeks come we always praise the Lord for the prayers that have been answered.
I tend not to ask for prayers for myself either. Unless it is for my family.But I tell you sometimes I wish I could ask hundreds of prayer worriers to pray for me because the more the better.
Thank-you again

Myrna said...

I appreciate this post. I think you have put into words some of the thoughts and struggles that all of us have experienced at one time or another. I think that prayer is very personal. At the same time, as members of the Body we are supposed to intercede for one another. We all have to come find our comfort zone for what we share with others. Thank you for provoking some thought and discussion.

Tiffany said...

I think prayer is a beautiful and power thing. The Lord has asked us to bare one another's burdens, to confess, admonish and uplift one another. He also said two are better than one, because if one falls down- the other can lift him up. There have been so many good insights here and in the previous comments. It shows (as you were saying) that we are all at different points in the "journey," or our relationship with God. I'm glad we have a place like this (bloggy land) to share,encourage, uplift and learn from one another. I just Pray- and I really mean this- I PRAY that we will not allow the devil to use our thoughts, questions, or pondering to create a division between us as Christians- (or to hurt one another.) It is not for us to jugde someone else's heart or their intentions. (And let me also say that there is a big difference in "discernment" and using that word in the name of the Lord as a cover for passing jugdement.) I think you said it best- when you said we are called to serve one another- reguardless! Before we cast the first stone -maybe we should be examining our own hearts and intentions. We are not to decide who or what is worthy of prayer- that is the Lord's job and His only! Our job is to pray, love one another, serve one another, do all things as if unto the Lord. If we concentrate on that I think it will "help" keep our hearts in the right place. I know alot of us have different insecurities about if we are doing it the right way, or are people "looking" at me and I think that is why Jesus said over and over Love one another, humbly put others above yourself. The only thing more important is to the Love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and mind! We should always approach one another in love- even in our writing. I am glad the Lord has used you to gently remind me to do it (pray) not just say it. I know the Lord used someone else just the other day to say- why do you only bring me the big things (sickness, tragedy, loss) why do you not bring me everything?- (and I mean everything, even the smallest of decisions.) I felt Him impressing upon my heart - I want to be more than your savior, I want to be your Lord! Isn't that beautiful? It made me very excited! And He used a fellow Christian to gently nugde me and let me know that I neede to give more. It was easier to take when presented in LOVE! - Well, enough of my soapbox. I came by to tell you that I have an award for you at my blog! Blessings!

MammyT said...

I'm glad to hear about this "other side of the prayer fence" and it got me thinking about the portion in James where we are told 2 things. Confess your faults one to another and pray for one another that ye may be healed. (jas.5:16) Wow. Taken by itself, I think it's important to note that those two directives are in the same sentence, as though they are all a part of one thought. Strong's concordance says "fault" is a sin or a misdeed. I think what this says to me is that we must humble ourselves to be effective in prayer for one another, AND that it is a two-way street. I pray for you and you pray for me and we are kind of in a covenant together. Both needy, but both able to intercede in faith.
Does that make sense?

Yellow Rose Arbor said...

Susan, I think you did a very good job (as always!) answering the question.

It struck me as an odd question because I've never thought about someone doing such as that. I think more the opposite, that people are hesitate to ask for prayer, especially personal prayers because of pride or shame. I admire anyone who can ask others to join them in prayer, without embarrassment.

I'm glad you added about judgment. I know it's hard not to judge, but we are commanded not to. Even if someone is looking for attention, maybe they need some attention! Maybe a just a hug!


Pam said...

This was a post which addressed some things I've pondered about. I often wonder if I don't ask for prayer enough! Is it pride? You see that you touched on things I have trouble with. Sometimes I grow weary of hearing what I think are petty requests from the same people at church all the time. There have been times I've been inclined to roll my eyes in boredom or as if to sig, "Oh here they go again." I have to guard against that attitude. I know that there is power in prayer. The more of us who strom the gates of heaven for a request, the better! Strenght in numbers and all that good stuff you know. I just know that I'm kind of private about asking for prayer. I must search my heart now and make sure it isn't due to pride, because that is an ungodly trait. Thanks for addressing the email on this topic. It has gotten me to thinking.

Renna said...

Hi, new to your blog here, but I like what I've read so far. :-)

You said:

" I do have to say that I have known people who seem to always be asking for the same thing, over and over again, and sometimes asking for things that ,in my humble opinion, are issues they should be dealing with and addressing themselves. BUT, having said that we must remember that we are the body of Christ and that we are there to fulfill the needs of the other members of the body. Period........and without reservation and without judgement. We are certainly all at different areas in this journey with our Lord. And we have to constantly remind ourselves it is a journey and not a destination. None of us have arrived!!!!"

That's exactly where I've found myself. In fact, going back to what you wrote even before that, I, too, fit into all three categories of reasons you mentioned for not asking for prayer....; but about the above italicized paragraph, I've so often found myself aggravated at those people who do ask for the same things over and over again, wanting to tell them to 'grow up' and start going to Father God on their own behalf.

You're right, though, I know they're at a different place on their walk (tho some of them seem rooted in that same spot!). You mentioned your dissatisfaction with this post, but it did serve as a reminder to me that part of my role as part of the body (of Christ) is to be strong in areas where other parts are weak; just as others were strong for me as I was growing and building my own spiritual muscles.

Momma Roar said...

I want you to know that I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts – these last two posts have left me thinking a lot.

I hope you don’t mind if I share some things I thought of while I read your post.

I was reminded of what I read in my Beth Moore study. We were looking at Jesus making house calls (as we see Christ’s ministry broaden from the synagogue to include the home). Simon's mother in law was suffering and could not seek help for herself. They went to him on her behalf. She concludes "Aren't you thankful we can summon Christ's intervention on another person's behalf? Aren't you also thankful that others have summoned Him on ours?"

I truly am thankful for both of those things.

If someone asks for prayer, I count it a privilege to pray for them. I do not think it is my job to question the person’s motives. But, if I am honest, sometimes I do question.

Thanks for the insightful posts Susan!!

Frazzled Farm Wife said...

I also believe in the power of prayer and have had prayer requests for myself as well as other people in my family. I don't think most people do it for attention, I think they do it because they really believe in prayer and people. Some may do it for attention but then those people probably need our prayers too.

I think you did great with this post!

Lisa said...

i am so glad you said this...blogged about this...great reminder for us all!
we definately share the same view on this.
when my husband was ordained into the ministry years ago...I had to do a lot of soul searching on this "prayer request" issue. as his wife, i feel i have to be ever so careful not to unintentionally spread "news" or "prayer request". i've had to learn over the years to be generic in my public prayer request...or to just be quiet & let my husband handle the announcements of such things all together...and he can also be there for the person, family, etc. in need.
5 Star Post!*****