I need all the prayers I can get. All of us do. Someday, I’d love it if the Lord gave me a glimpse of how much of the blessings in my life were the results of answered prayers of His people.
I try to lift others up in prayer regularly. I believe in the power in their lives as much as my own–and I figure if I can use them, so can they.
When someone says, “How can I pray for you?” Or, like one very close Brother in the Lord texts me nearly every week, “I’m praying for you today. Any requests?” I’m honored he would take the time and regularly offer prayers up on my behalf. His own faithfulness in praying for me has been an example, and on several occasions his texts soliciting prayer requests have spurred me to stop whatever I’m doing and do the same for others right then.
This is why I was so disappointed in myself last week when I received his text. Here’s the actual text sequence with dates and times. I’ll refer to him affectionately as, “Prayer Warrior X.”
Prayer Warrior X: 3/27, 7:57am: I’m praying for you today. Any requests?
Me: 3/27, 8:36am: Yes. Driving. Will text soon.
Prayer Warrior X: 3/28, 7:05am: Hit me with your request when you get a chance.
Me: 3/28, 7:13am: [I send him my prayer list in short phrases–the length of half a paragraph. I knew what the requests were immediately, and typed them out in 30-45 seconds.]
Did you notice what I did? Yep, on March 27, I was too busy to be prayed for. It totally slipped my mind to text my friend back, and/or I didn’t have time. I can make all the excuses I want: Emily was out of the country for two weeks and I was, temporarily a single dad of three young daughters while trying to pastor a new and growing church, while coaching two softball teams during rainout makeup week as best I could with a broken big toe.
The reality was, I wasn’t just too busy to pray for myself and others that day. I was too busy to be prayed for. Or, at least I thought I was. It’s quite unlike me, and something that startled me when it happened. When I got the reminder text, it caused me to pause and say, “Whoah, there.” It’s one thing to struggle to find windows for prayer during busy seasons. It’s another to go so fast you don’t afford others the time to pray for you. Of course, it’s during those seasons we need it the most.
I was so preoccupied I didn’t do what I’ve done the last several busy seasons, which was to ask three or four people in advance of that busy season to pray for me each day during the time Emily was away. Then, when a close friend offered, I forgot. It was a most excellent wakeup call, and opportunity to repent. I adjusted course from that text forward. It reminded me of spiritual direction John Ortberg received from Dallas Willard at some crucial point: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
Maybe I need to start doing that.
Maybe you do, too.
Perhaps you can learn from my mistake. Sometimes it’s pride that allows us to go along thinking we don’t need prayer much. Sometimes it’s misplaced priorities. A lot of the time, it’s not intentional at all–it just happens. That’s the problem…it just happens that we stop praying or praying for others during seasons we need it most.
Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer from people you know will do it. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if you can pray for them. This is true ministry.
I praise God for my Brother who texted me back. Because the truth was, I needed the prayers…badly. Just as much, I needed the reminder that I ought not ever be too busy to pray for.