An elderly lady came to see me today. She was very well dressed reminiscent of her hey days. During her active working life, she held important government posts and was a well-respected member of the society. No, she was not a socialite.
She did attend parties but was not a party animal. She still wears her favorite lipstick and to be honest, she is the cutest lady in town. Her focus in recent months has been the church and how to help in her own small way.
She wanted to have a chat with her bishop. After a while the conversation shifted to prayer and the oft heard maxim of people. ‘Father, pray for me.’ The priest usually answers; I will pray for you. She wanted to know whether the petitioner is really requesting for general prayer or for a particular intention. ‘Pray for me’ without any intention does not command any sense of urgency.
She says, that if a person says pray for me to get married or to find work, that is an intention worthy of one’s commitment in prayer. You must have a reason to request another to pray for you. Making the intention known intensifies the commitment to pray. Otherwise, it is just a feel good thing to ask another to pray for you.
On the other hand when we say to people, “I will pray for you,” we make a serious commitment to stand in the bridge before God on behalf of another. Sadly, on many occasions this remark remains just a well-intentioned expression of concern. We may or may not remember to pray for the person concerned.
Making a request for prayer is trusting that the other person would lift you up before the Lord of all, to highlight your need at a particular moment in time. When this trust is betrayed, it causes disappointment that hovers near lack of trust in the God who answers prayers.
A person might say, that I asked this leader, this priest, this bishop to pray for me and yet God is not hearing their prayer for me. But the truth of the matter is that none of the above had actually prayed for you by name to God. The promise of prayer remains only a promise.
Next time you promise another that you would pray for her, make a mental note of it and actually pray for the intention of the petitioner. Her faith and trust might depend on it. And when you are in need of prayer, do not just say, pray for me. Trust in the other person and reveal your heart’s desire. You might say; pray for healing for me or pray for me to solve my financial problems. Prayer is like a laser that has to be focused to achieve the desired results.
We have to learn to descend from the mind to the heart where we meet God. Doing that would enable us bring with us all those who have become part of our lives and the “pray for me” group, to the healing presence of God who is the center of our being.
In this center the mystery of the human heart becomes absorbed into the divine heart of God. God’s heart is large enough to embrace the whole world. Through prayer we can thus carry in our heart all the human pain and sorrow, all conflicts and agonies, all diseases and misery, all poverty and loneliness. The heart of God stretches to include everyone. Prayer puts us in this heart and leads us a little deeper into the mystery of the Three in One.
The elderly gentle lady had opened my heart to see and hear the longings of humanity. It’s not enough to give a flippant answer of a promise to pray for one who sincerely asks for this Christian kindness, an act of charity. So tonight, I will pray for you to have a good night and to rest in the Lord.
Authored by Bishop Frank Nubuasah