"As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right."
- 1st Samuel 12:23
There was a time in years past - before I became a pastor - when people would ask me to pray for a need or concern of theirs. They might say, "Please pray for me", or "Put me on your prayer list". I always agreed to pray for anyone who asked for it, but if I didn't pray soon afterwards, or if I didn't write myself a reminder, the busyness of life would get in the way. There were times where I just plain forgot to pray or I forgot what the prayer request was for.
Has that ever happened to you? Has a friend or family member asked for prayer and you agreed to pray for them later? Did you remember? Did you forget?
Please allow me to share some wisdom that I have learned. When someone asks for prayer, they want it on the spot! At best, it's passive to offer to pray later. At worst, you might forget to pray. It's much more active and bold to go ahead and pray for the person right then and there when they ask. That's when they need it the most.
While on vacation this month, our family attended the Independence Day Celebration at Surfside Beach, SC. Ocean Boulevard and Surfside Drive were closed off as 15,000 people descended upon the main drag for a street party and fireworks show. As we strolled around taking in all the sights and sounds and smells of the beach party, I ran into my old friend Alice. As we caught up on a year's worth of news, Alice informed me that she and her husband Nate had separated. She was hoping for reconciliation, and she asked me to put her family on my prayer list. It was loud. It was hot. It was crowded. My son Duncan wanted a sno-cone. But Alice needed prayer, and I wanted to see her family re-united, so we prayed. Right then and there. In front of 15,000 people. In the middle of the Surfside Beach Pier parking lot. With a Garth Brooks impersonator singing in the background. It was a little awkward; but in the end, it was awesome because Alice received prayer when she needed it most! God heard that prayer and I'm convinced He will do His part to answer that prayer request.
I don't share that story with you to brag; my prayers are as good as the next person. Instead, I share that with you to encourage you to pray wherever you are whenever people request it. Don't wait for a quiet place to pray. Don't worry that you won't have the right words to say. Don't back down at the thought of other people seeing you pray. Have compassion of the person needing prayer and trust that the Lord Jesus will give you the right words to say. He is faithful and true and is ready to hear your prayer requests.
In his farewell address to the people of Israel, the prophet Samuel promised that he would never neglect to pray for the people. Shouldn't we follow his example? Go ahead, pray on the spot.