PRAY: No More Prayer-Guilt, Part III
I hadn’t planned to make this a three-part series. The previous posts about prayer-guilt focus on the guilt we experience because we don’t pray or because our prayers may not sound as eloquent as those of others. This one fits a different pattern, but I think it belongs here, too.
Not long ago, a friend wrote and requested prayer. When she did, she said “I guess it seems a bit selfish when there are so many more important issues, but. . .” and continued with her specific request. Of course it honored me that she asked for prayer. I had the blessing of cooperating with God in his answer, something that brings me joy.
As I read her note, I realized that often we feel guilty about asking for prayer. Others’ needs often seem more urgent and thus more important than our own. We know people are busy, and we hate to bother them, so we remain silent. Sometimes, we don’t ask for the opposite reason. Our need is so overwhelming, so painful that we don’t want to dump it on anyone else. It already hurts us—why should it also hurt our friends?
I know the answer: because it’s biblical. Scripture says we are to “bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Opportunities to carry physical, material burdens for others don’t come often. But opportunities to bear burdens of the spiritual kind—those come as often as we open our eyes, ears, hearts, and lives to those around us.
Once again, the enemy rears his ugly head. He wants us to believe our prayer requests are unimportant or that we shouldn’t trouble anyone else. He’d love us to keep our needs, hurts, and problems to ourselves instead of sharing them with fellow believers. After all, if he can paralyze the body of Christ, he won’t have to fight as hard in his war against it. And since prayer is our power source, if he stops it or convinces us not to let it begin, he effectively pulls the plug.
God’s funny. What’s biblical is also right. Not long ago, I witnessed a powerful, real-life example of this truth. The daughter of some precious family friends has been diagnosed with an eating disorder. After two weeks in the hospital, she’s undergoing therapy at a Christian treatment center. Many people would have chosen to hide the specifics of this situation. They would have made up a reason for her absence or told a half-truth to cover it up.
Our friends and their daughter chose the opposite route. They’ve brought the problem into the light. They’ve shared the truth—and the prayer need—with friends at work, home, and at school. As a result, many others have had the opportunity to bear their burden through prayer. And as we bear the burden, we also share in the joy as we walk alongside our friends through their time of hurt, healing, and hope.
I don’t remember Jesus ever turning people away because their requests were “a bit selfish.” Instead, he willingly allowed all kinds of hurting, helpless, needy people to interrupt him. Think about it—when you share a prayer request, you give others the opportunity to become more like Jesus. And the “law of Christ” you fulfill is the commandment He labeled most important: the holy law of love.
Why do you think we keep our prayer needs to ourselves? How can we change that—or should we? I’d love to hear your thoughts.