“Can you pray for me?” This question is always honorable. I’ve had the pleasure of interceding for many people in my life. It is an honor for me to have someone trust my prayers for their life and for the people they care about. It makes me feel like I’m doing right by God and being given a good opportunity to be His vessel. However, in recent months, “Can you pray for me?” has become a bittersweet question.
What makes being asked to pray for people so bittersweet is that usually after I hear, “Can you pray for me?” I also hear, “I know God listens to you,” insinuating that their voice goes unheard. Somehow, they’ve made up their mind that my relationship is somewhat better, or closer, to God than their own. This upsets me.
I despise hearing people describe my walk with God as something unique. I hate when people elevate my relationship with God above their own. I loathe the idea that they would rather I pray in their place than pray with them. It reminds me of the short passage in Acts 19:11-17.
Sceva’s sons are many people in this world. They want God to visit them, hear them, help them, and act upon their prayers, but they do not want to claim Him for themselves or place themselves in the position to receive the answer they require. “Pray to your God for me.” “I know if He doesn’t hear me, He’ll hear you.” “My sins are too numerous and too recent for God to take me seriously.”
People have continuously shoved God away and ostracized themselves on behalf of God, rather than accepting the fact that God accepts them as they are. Then, they have the audacity to try and bypass the Holy Spirit by using me as a go-between in an era where there is no mediator but the Messiah, Christ Jesus, and there is no mediator to Christ Jesus. It’s demeaning to God.
God cannot be fooled by where the prayers come from. It doesn’t sound more pleasant in His ears because His faithful ones pray it rather than His disobedient ones. Yes, the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective, but the Lord determines who is righteous, not people. Therefore, going “behind God’s back” and trying to get His “favorite child” to ask Him for help does nothing if there is no faith in the first person asking for prayer.
I’ve said for a long time that the difference between the saint and the sinner is a decision. Upbringing is mostly irrelevant, society is highly unimportant, and personal conviction has nothing to do with it. If you can read a Bible, you can make the decision to be obedient or not. Most people do not like to admit that they are at fault for their own mistakes and sins, but that is the reality of the situation. Decision after decision put you in the condition to habitually sin. There’s only so much excuse for you when God Himself lived a life on this Earth just as you and I did.
You decide whether or not you hear from God. Too many times, we run from God and wonder why we can’t hear from Him. Too many times, we plug our ears with TV, gossip, bills, music, arguments, news, video games, readings, and all sorts of entertainments and worries, but can’t figure out why we miss the word of the Lord. You are missing it because you are willfully deciding to be distracted, undisciplined, and unreachable. You are continuously trying to break the connection you will desire in a time of need.
Another reason we miss out on hearing from God is by thinking God only speaks through the elect, who we deem to be elite saints in our eyes. It could be our parents, grandparents, pastors, bishops, televangelists, evangelicals, missionaries, or anyone. When we see people serving the Lord intentionally, and against societal norms, we tend to think they are closer to God. In my short life, I can tell you, that is not true.
I have witnessed pastors lie to the congregation. I have seen bishops sleeping with congregants. There are plenty of stories of missionaries creating sex trafficking rings. There are so many priests sexually abusing children that it has become a stigma. This doesn’t even include those who use foul language, are homosexual, adulterous, alcoholics, abusers, thieves, or all of the many things Paul said wouldn’t inherit the kingdom of God.
Beneath the leadership of these hypocritical people are an exponential amount of church attenders doing the same or worse. I am included in their ranks! I am not free of sin, mistakes, flaws, negative energy, or whatever you may call it! If you are looking for people to be faultless, look to Heaven, not Earth. You will not find perfect people here. You will only find people trying to be obedient and show love to God. They are not your God!
We are all created to be like God. We may not be made equal in physical ability, emotional stability, or mental capacity, but we are all created for a purpose. God told Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you…” Jeremiah was not better than the next person. He was simply a man God had chosen. Jeremiah did not do anything extraordinary to receive the anointing. He merely had faith in God, something we can all do.
It is beyond time we stop exalting the prayers of our favorite Christians. They may be good people, and more consistent with God than you, but your prayers are heard just as theirs. The only difference is whether or not you are willing to be faithful to God in order to hear His answer or not. Will you be obedient, and show love to God, so that God may finally show what His love is supposed to look like to you?
Some of you will bring up a list of irrelevant and false reasons why God may not be hearing your prayers. Forgive yourself and pray anyway. God has taught you how to pray all throughout the Bible. It is beyond time for you to take God’s advice and pray to Him.
Forget what the church said about you growing up, or the last time you went. Forget about the scandals the media loves to show you. Forget about the distasteful experiences you’ve had with other Christians. They are not God! They aren’t even good enough to touch the pinky toe of Jesus. Yet, Jesus is gracious enough to allow them to embrace Him anyway. Go get your hug! Go get your love! No one else can receive it for you!
If you’ve put even a little bit of hope in your prayer being heard, you have given God just enough faith for Him to work a miracle. Jesus Himself once said, “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Stop putting your hope in the prayers of other people and put your hope in God and God alone.
There is nothing wrong with trusting other people to pray, but it is wrong to trust their prayers to be answered above your own. Be obedient, wait for the response, and trust God, not other people. Plenty of people forget to pray, or stop praying after a little while. Trust God and trust your own prayers.
Your prayers do not have to be elegant or filled with many scriptures (although, showing God you know His promises written in scripture helps you from a mental standpoint). If you want to know how prayer is supposed to look, read Matthew 6:5-8, 1st Samuel 1, and Luke 18:9-14.
Am I asking you to stop asking me to pray for you? No. I’m asking that you stop treating everyone else’s prayers as if they are better than yours. I’m asking you to stop acting like God is happy when He hears others’ prayers and not happy when He hears yours. As the prodigal son, God is thrilled when you come home to Him for the simplest things. When you rely on Him for major things, like most of you do, He’s all the more ready to show you He hears you. But are you ready to show you hear Him? I hope you are.
Prayer is a heart issue, not a skill issue. Prayer is a frequency issue, not a history issue. If you pray honestly and earnestly frequently, you will see the answers when you ask for them. Too many people treat God like the last line of defense when He is the first line of defense, the defense in-between, and the last line of defense. He is supposed to be there throughout.
Next time you want someone to pray for your situation, or the situation of a loved one, ask yourself, “Have I prayed over this myself?” Make sure you continue to pray after you’ve asked someone else to pray. I’ve already told you people forget or stop praying after a little while (some even one prayer is all you’ll get). No one should ever pray more about your situation than you. No one can live the life you live and so no one can pray as you will.
Be encouraged. God hears you. You are not too far away, not too covered in sin, and not to meager in faith. Prayer is not about proximity, but direction. When you pray, you are turned towards God, and that is where God always wants you to be, so pray. Someone needs your prayers too. Honor them, by praying to the God of Heaven for their soul.
From a guy no better than you,
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