“Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
All of us have an inner circle of prayer. That’s the people we consistently pray for. And if we’re not careful, we offer the same prayers for the same people every day. Today, let’s look at ways of expanding that circle, to include more people and more concerns.
We’ll begin with something quick and easy. I call them drive-by prayer requests.
After Sunday morning services, I stood at the church door to shake hands and share pleasantries with the congregation. Frequently, those who passed by requested prayer. Those requests were seldom specific, just, “Pastor, pray for me.” Soon after, I joined my family for lunch and those prayer concerns were forgotten. To prevent that from happening, I adopted the habit of praying for those people immediately.
When people know you’re a Christian, you will get similar drive-by requests for prayer. It can happen anytime and anywhere.
Recently, I was sitting in the waiting room of an auto repair shop. Struck up a conversation with another customer. Soon we learned we were both believers. Before she departed, she asked me to pray for her. Again the request wasn’t specific, just “pray.”
Simple, quick, non-specific prayer is important. We don’t need all the details of someone’s problem to appeal to the Lord on their behalf. God already knows what they’re going through. Train yourself to pray right away, silently, and quickly based on the limited information shared. An old Aretha Franklin hit just popped into my mind. “I say a little prayer for you.”
In our focus text, a centurion came to Jesus to request healing for his paralyzed servant. We’ll call him, “Sarge.” He was burdened for someone who worked for him. Wow. A boss including his employees in his circle of prayer.
In James 5:16, we’re told to “pray for each other.” I wonder how many times we ask for prayer from someone, but fail to follow the “each other” directive. When someone says they’re praying for you, offer up one for them in return.
Consider your current circle of prayer that includes family and friends. Maybe some coworkers, neighbors, church members, or your pastor are also in your prayer circle.
Now I want you to think about expanding that circle. But doesn’t expansion mean devoting more time to prayer? Actually, you can expand your circle and still effectively manage your prayer time.
We always want to make room for individuals who need prayer, but I have found it helpful to add groups. Notice this example in Paul’s letter to Timothy:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2
That’s a BIG circle of prayer. “All people.” “Kings and all those in authority.”
Prayer is to be individual but also like a blanket. We pray for those we know, but we also intercede for groups of those we don’t. President, governor, and governmental leaders. The people who live in your community. Your city or town. Your church and the church universal. Your nation and world.
Consider adding groups to your circle that include those who have come and gone from your life. For example, I pray daily for the people I went to school with, the graduates of the Strasburg High School class of 1966. (They’re my age. Definitely need prayer.) I pray for the people I worked with in radio, and the members of the churches I pastored. And when specific names come to mind from those associations, I lift them up individually.
Occasionally, you will recall the name of someone from your past. Take that as a prompt from the Holy Spirit to pray.
Your circle of prayer should never be closed, but always open to “all people.” Pray for somebody new today. Then cast your blanket to cover a new group.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Christians Are Far from Perfect, We All Stumble in Many Ways
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.