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How to Find the Time to Pray for Others

If your prayer list feels overwhelming, here are simple ways you can pray throughout the day.

How to pray for others
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Don’t you get asked to do this all the time? When someone shares some bad news with you, aren’t you quick to say or at least think, “I’ll pray for you?” It’s a part of how we live our faith, going back to Paul’s frequent exhortation, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” (Romans 1:8) and beyond.

But do you ever wonder how to do it? Do you worry that you don’t have enough time? Do you fear that you’ll forget to actually pray for that person? The needs and concerns can seem so daunting. Here’s what I’ve learned and what I do. May it help you. (Note: that’s a prayer for others right there!)

Pray your compassion. When you hear about that case of cancer or marriage falling apart or job loss, the tug on your heart that came with the news, the opening of your spirit to the Spirit, is a prayer right there. You’re feeling someone’s pain. Not judging it, not belittling it. Sharing it.

Pray then and there. Is it someone you can pray with right away? Do that if you can, even by text or phone, to let them know they’re heard by you and by God. If not, say the prayer to yourself. I’m more likely to forget if I don’t pray then and there. Even something very quick. Just a flash.

My father always used to say, “I’ll hold a good thought.” Hold that good thought. In your heart and brain.

Write it down. I used to put names down on Post It notes, and they’d be there on my desk to remind me. Just a name. That would trigger the prayer. The good thought. Now I’m more likely to scribble it in a notebook or a memo on my phone. Even if I don’t look back on what I’ve scribbled, the act of writing something down is a prayer.

Think of Paul. How in letter after letter he starts out by saying that prayer, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” Prayers we still read and turn to as models after all these centuries.

Send a spontaneous email. Or a text. Or a phone call. Don’t belabor it. Just an “I’m thinking of you…” is good enough. They can respond in whatever way they feel like or need to. You’re doing the praying. Not the prying.

Often enough, without any prompting, someone’s name will come to me, maybe someone I haven’t seen or heard from in a while. I take that as a heavenly nudge to reach out and send that thinking-of-you email. Often enough, they’ll reveal a good reason for our getting re-connected.

Expand your world. We’re meant to pray for others, not just for them but for us. My church has an email list, updated weekly, of people who have asked for our prayers. I’ll bet yours does too. If not…well, you can simply go to ourprayer.org right here and now and read of some urgent needs that call for your attention and ours. (Not for nothing is it called OurPrayer, emphasis on OUR.)

We all have needs that cry out for prayer and give us a chance to cry out. Think of the power that is unleashed when we join together. Where two or more are gathered. Even online. We change ourselves and grow as we seek to change the world.

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