When was the last time you prayed for someone in their presence? Maybe it was at a church service or prayer meeting, or a small group. Maybe it was at home with your spouse or children.
This past Sunday my church prayed for one of our members going into surgery this week. He came and sat in a chair at the front of the church, and the deacons gathered around him and laid their hands on him and prayed. It was beautiful, and it was the first time our church had ever done anything like that. I hope it’s not the last.
When was the last time you prayed with someone at a social get-together?
Sounds weird, right? And definitely awkward. But I wonder why, as Christians, we don’t that often? We seem to have a pretty clear separation between “spiritual” times and other times, like dinners or coffees, or work, or sporting events.
But if, as Paul says, we are members of one body and need each other (1 Cor. 12:12-27), and if we’re to build one another up and encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11), wouldn’t it make sense to pray with each other more often than we do?
This is a result of our individualistic & materialistic (separating the spiritual from the rest of life) culture, though certainly there are always exceptions to be found (I think about my time in charismatic churches, where it seemed a lot more common to pray for each other any time. That’s one of the things I miss from that stream of Christianity).
The truth is, though, that I need prayer. And so do you, if you’re honest with yourself.
So my wife and I have determined to pray for people when we get together socially. Sometimes I forget if the conversation is really good, or my wife will remind me, but before they or we leave, I’ll ask “how can we pray for you?” and then right there we will pray. It’s not a super-religious moment, and we don’t do it to look good in front of our friends, but we do it because we care about them. It’s a simple yet powerful way we can “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Also, Jesus has been with us the whole time we were hanging out or doing whatever anyway, and he also wants to be included.
I encourage you to try it. It won’t feel natural at first and that’s okay. But when we pray with & for each other, more and more we become a people that is characterized by our love for one another (John 13:34-35).