Often times we have great noble plans to pray for others but then become discouraged when we forget or encounter obstacles. Boo! If you struggle with how to pray for others, try this one simple tip for developing a prayer habit where you consistently remember to pray for others.
“Everything worked out! Thank you, I know you have been praying for me.” She looked me straight in the eye with a smile on her face, truly grateful for my prayers. I smiled back but my heart sank, I hadn’t prayed. I had completely forgotten!
Even though everything worked out, I felt like a horrible friend. She had opened her heart to me, shared a major concern, and asked me to pray, but I didn’t follow through.
“This is why I rarely promise to pray for people!” I silently scolded myself, “I almost always forget to follow through; then the ‘thanks for praying’ comes and I feel bad for forgetting and guilty for accepting thanks I didn’t deserve. Who wants to deal with all of that? Better to just avoid prayer requests…right?”
The Motivation for Prayer for Others
After this situation occurred, the Lord began pressing on my heart the need to do some self-examination. Where was my attitude towards praying for others coming from?
Philippians 2:3-4 held the answer.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
It all became clear in reading those two verses. It was selfish of me to avoid taking prayer requests because they might lead to feelings of guilt. It was also selfish of me to not pray for others whether I had been asked to or not.
Didn’t I always ensure my needs were brought before God? Was I more important than my friends? Were my needs more important? I never consciously thought I was more important, but my actions revealed the truth.
God’s message was loud and clear now, I needed to pray for others.
How to Pray for Others
Even with a stronger desire to pray, I still had the memory problem. I know some people write down requests in a prayer journal, or in a note on their phone. Some even schedule an event on their calendar. But all of these ideas required remembering to look at what I wrote down.
I know, I know, it isn’t that hard, but nothing was working for me. I needed a completely different approach; one which worked anywhere, anytime, and didn’t require me to remember anything.
My solution? The “on the spot prayer.”
The title is pretty self-explanatory. Whenever I get asked to pray, I stop whatever I am doing and pray right then and there. These are usually very quick prayers, somewhere around 15-30 seconds.
You may be thinking, “Wow, so short, is it even worth it?” Yes! That is the point of on the spot prayer. God hears every prayer no matter the length. Plus, if I had to stop what I was doing and pray for even 5 minutes, I probably wouldn’t do it (I am just being honest with myself here).
Yes, on a rare occasion, a prayer request arrives during a time when I am not doing much and I could pray for the next 10 minutes. But usually I am right in the middle of something; cleaning, cooking, writing, trying to keep my toddler from using the whole house as her personal jungle gym, etc.
No matter what I am doing though, I can always stop for 15-30 seconds. This way, a prayer gets said 100% of the time. No forgetting and no feeling guilty later; I don’t even give myself the opportunity to not follow through.
The really amazing part is by saying a quick prayer in the moment, I tend to remember to pray for my friend during my next dedicated prayer time. It’s like a trigger in my brain says “Hey you are praying, last time you prayed, you said____.”
This gives me the opportunity to pray again. Not because God didn’t hear my 15 second prayer- you can trust he did- but because I’ve taken Philippians 2:4 to heart, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
To me this means when I take on the prayer requests of friends and family, I treat their needs as my own. If it was my need, I would pray more than once, plain and simple.
I am still not perfect in this last part. Sometimes the trigger doesn’t fire, and the 15-30 second prayer is all a situation ever gets from me. But, what I’ve learned is, God doesn’t want us to pray for others because we are so good at praying; or because without us he wouldn’t hear the prayer request.
He wants us to pray in order to experience personal growth and to deepen our relationship with Him. He also wants to bless us for blessing others.
“The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.” Job 42:10 [emphasis added]
If you struggle to remember prayer requests, I encourage you to give this method a try. Or if you struggle with prayer in general, you may even want to try it with your own life, stopping to pray whenever you could use some help from God.
Do you have any tips for remembering to pray for others? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Kira Bridges is pursuing joy by seeking the life God intended for us. She blogs at Joy Pursued, sharing lessons learned and resources to help women move fully into the joyful life God has waiting for them. Living in the sunny part of Oregon with her husband, daughter, and two dogs; Kira believes living with joy is a lifelong journey and would love for you to join her. You can hang out with her on Facebook, or follow along on Pinterest.