The first time someone prayed specifically and intentionally for me in a group setting, I was not prepared for the wave of emotion that came over me. In her prayer, she expressed so much love and compassion for me and it moved me to tears.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “I’ll be praying for you.” Maybe you trust the people who say it actually will pray or maybe you’re a little more skeptical and think, “Sure you will.” When my son was diagnosed with cancer, this statement took on a whole new meaning. My biggest, boldest prayer I’d ever prayed had gone unanswered by God. I wouldn’t say I was mad at God but I began questioning my ability to pray effectively. So, I did something outside of my comfort zone and I invited others into our story, allowing them to pray for our family. I needed other people to stand in the gap for us. I needed people to hold vigil for my son and, as it turned out, for my whole family because we quickly learned this cancer journey was not just about Carter.
Full disclosure, I am not particularly good at praying out loud. I’m pretty clumsy at it. When praying in a group the words are all there, perfectly lined up in my head and then I open my mouth and those “perfect” words are gone.
As I look back on how I was raised, the act of prayer was not something I grew up witnessing. I was taught prayers are private and way too personal. It was honestly uncomfortable to even talk about prayer with my family. You can imagine praying in a group was a completely foreign concept in my adult life.
Over the years, God has surrounded me with incredibly eloquent prayer warriors. For a time, this made me even more insecure about my clumsy prayers. I gathered the courage and shared with one of my friends that I was envious of her ability to let prayers flow freely. In fact, sometimes I was so focused on how she prayed that I lost sight of what she was praying. As she opened her mouth to respond to my confession, I was prepared to receive notes on how to become better at prayer. You know, she’d give me tips, tell me to practice, and tell me I’d get better with time.
Instead, she responded with grace. She told me God already knows the words I have lined up perfectly, it doesn’t matter how they come out it matters that the prayers were already in there.
Until that conversation, the term “prayer warrior” meant someone who prayed particularly well, to me. Now it means something else entirely. A prayer warrior is someone who understands the need to pray for those who cannot pray. A prayer warrior keeps vigil in the darkest hours of someone else’s life. If you’re in a season where praying on your own is too hard or painful or you just can’t pray “that prayer” anymore, you are not alone. It’s okay to reach out and ask for prayer; be specific or generic but ask. It will take courage and you’ll feel like you can do nothing for them in return. One day, it will be your turn to keep vigil for someone else and it won’t matter if your prayers are the most eloquent or, like mine, a work in progress. One day you may become someone else’s imperfect prayer warrior too.
Does prayer intimidate you?
Do you have somewhere you need someone to hold vigil for you? If so, invite someone to pray specifically for you in this season.