by Niki Turner
I visited New York City in the early '80s, shortly after the release of the first Ghostbusters movie. The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man's footprints through Manhattan were still visible, spray painted on the streets for the film crews to follow. Ghostbusters brought with it an infamous question: When faced with problems that are beyond your control, "Who ya gonna call?"
In the past six months, I've called upon my Inky sisters more than once for prayer, and I've tried to honor their prayer requests with fervency, efficiency, and faith in response. More than once, I've physically, tangibly experienced the effect of their prayers, standing together with me in faith, in my life.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
James 5:16 NKJV
Calling on people with whom you have relationship, those with whom you share faith —share a "story"—is altogether different than sending out a blanket email or Facebook or Twitter request. It's different than randomly tossing out prayer requests. It's different, I think, than calling a prayer line, or adding your name to an anonymous chain. Are those things ineffective? I don't think so. I believe God honors the prayers of His saints, His children, as much as He possibly can. But there is a difference when we "call" on those with whom we have relationship to pray for specific, personal situations, and "calling" on strangers to pray for strangers.
God never intended for us to stand alone. He sent the disciples out by twos. He commanded us not to neglect fellowship with other believers. When we take the time, the effort, to build relationship within the Body, we are creating a network of faith upon whom we can "call" in time of need. Requesting prayer from people who know your heart, your hopes, your dreams, requires us to humble ourselves, and that puts us in a position of receiving.
There's nothing quite like having people praying for you. It opens a place of rest, of peace, in which you can relocate your own faith and direct your heart toward God's will. You can, literally, feel the prayers of the saints working with those saints are people you have been divinely connected to by God.
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4:31 (from New International Version)
Who comes to mind as you read this post? Who are your personal prayer "peeps"? For whom do YOU pray? Or do you expect others to pray for you, yet you never pray for anyone else? Do you pray for your own needs? Or do you believe someone else's prayers might be better received at the Lord's throne, so you pass on the responsibility to others in fear that your own prayers won't be heard? (This is the equivalent of sending the youngest child to ask mom to give everyone a cookie, believing the youngest has greater favor by virtue of age and/or cuteness.)
Your "call group" might be found through your church, through a Bible study group, through a Christian volunteer organization, or even through a group connected electronically via the Internet - it might be a combination of the above. Where they live, what you have in common, or what denomination they claim, is less important than the relationship you share as Christians. I'm pretty choosy about who I share my prayer requests with. Why? Because I want people who will stand with me in faith, not people who will judge me for having a faith crisis, or folks who will broadcast my need far and wide like the Veggie Tales "rumor weed."
I don't believe God has left anyone out. I do think we are sometimes blind to the circle of faith in which He has placed us.You might have one friend, or 50, upon whom you call for agreement, but God has someone for everyone, and the prayers of that person or persons will humble you, inspire you, encourage you, and spur you to pray fervently for them. That, I believe is what we are supposed to be doing for each other.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7 (from New International Version)
On that note... a HUGE thank you to all my Inky sisters, for their faithfulness and commitment to pray, to lift each other up before the Lord, and to stand together in faith for whatever need arises, great or small. May every person who reads this find and know the same blessing!
SERIOUS QUESTION: When have you been aware - in a tangible way - of other people's prayers for you being heard and answered?
FRIVOLOUS QUESTION: What's the most ridiculous thing you've been "caught" praying for, only to find out it wasn't real at all?
Niki Turner writes romantic fiction, Christian non-fiction, blog posts, articles in the local newspaper, lengthy grocery lists, and Facebook status updates. Her first completed manuscript won second place in the 2009 Touched By Love contest for contemporary category romance. Colorado natives, Niki and her husband of 20+ years have four children (three at home) and are new grandparents to a baby boy. In 1998 they planted a church in rural northwestern Colorado. Currently, they share their home with three teenage boys, two black Lab mutts, and Niki’s absurdly spoiled Westie, Archie. Niki can be found at In Truer Ink, her personal blog and website, here at Inkwell Inspirations, and at The Pastor’s Wife Speaks.
I think there's definitely a difference in praying for someone you know and feel a connection to. It's like you recreate them in your mind and hold them up before God. You can't do that for random strangers. There's relationship and a sort of circle of love involved. I know recently I signed up to pray for a little girl having brain surgery. I signed up based on the relationship I had with her grandmother and the love I could see her grandmother had for her. But I also made an effort to go and look up her pictures and learn what I could about her and follow her story so that I could really pray from my heart.ReplyDelete
The Inky prayer support has meant so much to me as well.
I wonder if part of the difference is that when we know someone, we are better able to tune in to their will in agreement?ReplyDelete
When people I don't know ask for prayer, I have to pray right then, or I forget. But the prayer requests for folks I do know come back to me at all hours of the day and night. It's interesting.
Prayer is such an amazing multi layerd thing. I love to pray for people and I take it very seriously. I don't need or want the gory details- but a little sketch or picture of the person or people helps me to get a better understanding of their need. Ultimately, Jesus is able to transform my desire to get it right and make it what He wants it to be. Really, just pray.ReplyDelete
Multi-layered is exactly the right way to describe prayer!
I love the verse that says the Holy Spirit prays through us the perfect will of God for the saints. Sometimes there are no words, we just have to give it over to the Holy Spirit when we pray! Well, all the time, really!
Inspiring post, Niki. Well, this will sound trite, but while I was on retreat a couple weeks ago, the pastor asked hubby how I was doing. Nelson answered that I'd asked him to pray for my RWA editor and agent appts the next morning. Last year I hadn't been able to book any and really wanted to see at least one this year in New York. The problem was that I wasn't sure who God wanted me to pitch to even if I could get in there fast enough.ReplyDelete
Sunday afternoon I rec'd a very positive phone call and when I skyped Nelson, he said they'd prayed for my writing in church. Really? When there were so many sick and disillusioned that needed prayer? I was humbled.
The next morning when I sat down to look over the editor/agent names one last time, I felt the others praying for me. I looked at the list and 2 names jumped out at me. One was familiar, the other wasn't. But I, as well as the church, had prayed for guidance, so who was I to look further.
Within minutes of logging into the RWA website, I had confirmed appoitments with both the agent and editor that had seemed to spring from the list. Of course I have no idea how the pitches will go because it may be that God only wants this to be an introductory mtg with the agent and a re-acquaintance with the editor. But I'm blessed regardless.
Wonderful post, Niki. I have been so blessed by the Inkies, too. It wasn't that long ago that I asked you all for prayer, and about an hour later, it was like a switch had been flipped. The problem was still there, but I felt much more at peace and more able to trust in God's ability to take care of it. It was one of those times when I knew others were lifting me up, which was humbling and exciting.ReplyDelete
So many times Christians say we'll pray for someone, and either forget or offer a brief, add-on prayer--I'm guilty of both, and I'm not saying those short prayers aren't worthwhile or honored by God. But I am working on deliberate prayer and lifting up the requests of those who've asked me.
Praying for you all. And Anita, that's awesome about your appointments. Praying for favor!
Anita, that doesn't sound trite at all!!! And it IS humbling when we find out people are praying for us. What a wonderful testimony!ReplyDelete
Susie, ME TOO! In fact, every time I muster up the guts to ask for prayer, I experience a tangible "release" within an hour or two. Sometimes it's peace in the storm, sometimes it's an abatement of physical symptoms...ReplyDelete
I'm working on deliberate, purposeful prayer, too. It's embarrassing to admit that I don't always pray that way, when coming to the throne of grace to pray to the ONLY living God is one of the highest privileges and honors bestowed on us as Christians.
Thank goodness God knows what we're made of and has lots and lots of mercy!
Niki, my comment was lost. Google ate it. It was long and rambling anyway. But yes, I have experienced the presence of God and his strength and peace due to the prayer of others.ReplyDelete
I ditto the sentiment that the Inkies have blessed my life.
Re your non serious question:
I have also prayed for something that turned out not to be real. Anyone remember that horrifying news that a little boy was up in the air in a homemade balloon? Remember that horrible scene where the balloon crashed and there was no sign of that little boy?
Google has been HUNGRY lately! : )
Yep, watched the balloon boy in horrified fascination, praying for that poor child as the situation unfolded. Felt really dumb when it landed.
Wonderful post, Niki.ReplyDelete
As a relatively new Inkie (Inky?) I've been blessed by seeing this group pray for one another. I went through a very dark time a few years ago, when my prayer network was very limited, and wish I had that opportunity open to me then.
But your "frivolous question" brought to mind a funny story. We were once members of a fairly large church where prayer requests were taken every Wednesday night. One lady repeatedly asked for prayer--and the people she was praying for all had bizarrely tragic lives. We dutifully recorded each request, shaking our heads at how one woman could know so many people with such serious needs.
Turns out she was praying for her favorite soap opera characters!
Oh my goodness, that is one of those church stories that ought to make it into a book somewhere!!!
LOL! Barb, that is hysterical. Thanks for the much needed laugh. I just read it to my husband, too. He also thought it was funny. Especially because...shhh, don't tell anyone...I had just finished yelling...oh, I'm so embarrassed to say this...at a soap opera character. Suzie-now blushing, and slinking off to hide in shame...ReplyDelete