Written by Dave Lenehan
“I’ll be praying for you.” You heard that from someone before, right? Of course. We all have. And my guess is that most of us have said that to someone, usually someone close to us when they’ve shared a matter, a need that they wanted us to bring before God in prayer. “Yes, I’ll pray for you.” The problem is, we don’t always do it, do we? I’m pointing my fingers at myself when I ask that question, because loads of people have asked me that question and too often I have only thought about praying for someone, for that request, right then at that time.
A quick call or note can go out of our heads and attention as quickly as it came in. Life is full, distracting and a lot of times when that request for prayer comes in, we’re not really dialed into praying. Jason, a former event production student of mine who is now a TV journalist, sent me a text Saturday night. My wife and I were in the middle of watching “Boss Baby.” We weren’t in the middle of devotions or prayer or pretty much anything spiritual. But his message was urgent, “Can you pray for me because I have an opportunity to share Christ with my sister-in-law right now.” It was a text we couldn’t ignore. My wife and I paused the movie and prayed then and there in our basement family room.
I share that little piece of my life just as an example of the often urgency of the moment. Jesus knew the significance of responding to someone right when they needed it – which was usually when they were with him. He did it when the woman with bleeding issue merely touched his robe amid a pressing crowd of people. He turned and addressed her need to be completely well right then, “Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.” (Matthew 9:22, ESV)
He did it when he called the tax collectors Levi (Matthew) and Zacchaeus to follow him; he ate dinner in their house that night. The rabbi ate at the tax collector’s house that night. “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:4-5, ESV)
He responded right away when the storm rose up on the lake and the disciples (several of whom were skilled fishermen who knew the waters well) feared they would drown. “And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.” (Luke 8:24, ESV)
While these were not moments for prayer (although the disciples may have been praying fervently in their boat), Jesus didn’t hesitate a moment to respond to the need in front of him. I believe that’s the way we should respond in prayer. Jason texted me back just a short time later to say that his conversation with his sister-in-law went really well. He said that while she did not surrender to Christ that night, at that moment, she is now more open to hearing about His love and forgiveness than ever.
Jason knew he had to be obedient in the moment. He also realized he needed some people standing with him and behind him, going before the heavenly throne to ask for God’s courage, strength and wisdom as he shared his faith with her. I knew my wife and I needed to pray “right now.” I don’t always do that, but it’s a moment that I hope will stay with me so that when others ask the same question, I’ll respond right away.
Prayer is THAT important and usually important at THAT very moment.
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:9-14, ESV)