I think that it was last week at prayer request time that we talked about prayers for health. I'd like to talk this week about prayers for salvation of a loved one, or for that loved one who is saved but not close to the Lord; prayers for that one to renew their relationship with Him.
Let's look at some verses that will help us:
(Philippians 1:3-5)Paul gives us a great example of how to pray for others. The first thing he does is thank God for what He has already done in their lives. I know in my own prayer-life, it's usually the worrisome things that I bring up first. (Grin) I dwell on what I'm concerned about, and I ignore the things I can be thankful for. How about my loved ones' good health? The fact that they are gainfully employed? That they have others besides me to enrich their lives with love and encouragement? And much, much more. God has already worked in their lives, and we should be thankful for those things.
There's so much we can dwell on that isn't good. After all, that is why we are concerned. That's why we are lifting them up in prayer. But Paul tells us that thankfulness is the first step.
Next, recognize that God is a "finisher of projects." As a quilter and hobbyist, I'm tempted many times to start projects before I finish what I'm already working on. That's why I have some of what quilters call UFOs in my cabinet -- unfinished objects. But God doesn't work that way!
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.So often we forget that it's not us beginning the good work and then needing to complete it. It's not our department, as my grandma used to say. In spite of her good advice, I sometimes still find myself doing things I don't need to do: worrying, fretting, and doing whatever I can to control the situation that I'm concerned about.
I need to remember that God is the One in control, and that He will finish the job! So the second step is all about remembering that, and trusting and thanking Him for Who He is, and for His faithfulness.
Because of the second step, I can do the third one: mentally give up the control to God. No, this step isn't detailed as the first two were in the verses. This is one that is just a logical outcome of the first steps. Thanking God for what He has done in our loved ones' lives, and realizing afresh that He is a Finisher of projects, it becomes obvious that we need to give up control. Of course, we aren't really giving up control, because we never had it in the first place! (Grin) We just thought that we could fix things, move obstacles, complete projects, and resolve situations, because we WANT TO SO BADLY!! We are actually giving up the illusion of control. And it helps if we realize that and we mentally hand those reins over to God.
There's another step that helps us keep things in perspective as we pray for those we love, and for those we care about: it's to keep in mind that we are all recipients of God's grace. Check out verse seven....
(v7)Sometimes when we pray for family members, friends, and acquaintances, we subconsciously think of ourselves as the wise, mature ones. We think of the others (the ones we are praying for) as the ones who really need God in their lives.
Even if we are more mature (and believe it or not, that is not always the case), we are all on the same footing. You can say that we are all on the level playing field.
NEWS FLASH!! We ALL need God's grace. We are all recipients of His mercy. Why does Paul remind us of this? I think he said it because it makes their situation seem less dire. It's less desperate. It's not us up here on the hill and them down in the muddy valley. (Grin) It's more like us on the raft, and them paddling like mad in the stormy seas.....pull them up onto the raft -- but we both need God to still the storm! We both need His grace.
The Spirit has some more to teach us all about praying for our friends and our loved ones. We'll talk more tomorrow. Hope you'll be here!