How is your prayer follow through? Are you a well- intentioned yet no follow through kind of praying friend? Come on…time for honesty! Obviously God already knows what kind of prayer follow through you have. If that statement makes you uncomfortable, even just a little bit, you and I probably have some things in common.
How many times have you caught yourself saying, “I’ll pray for you,” yet when it comes to actually praying, we never do. Ouch!
OK…I’ll go first…GUILTY! Glad we got that elephant out of the room.
“I”ll Pray for You”
As Christians, our first and usually automatic, even robotic response to a situation or a hurting person is “I’ll pray.” Everything about that response is right, if and only if the intent is there and action follows. Our heads know the power of prayer yet I question whether our hearts make prayer a priority like it truly has the transformational power to touch lives and change circumstances. Are we offering prayer so casually that instead of making it the best thing we can do for another, it just becomes the least we can do?
I admit, as I think back to the sheer number of prayer promises I have personally made, my heart breaks a little more with each prayer that was promised but never offered up. It is not something that I am proud of but I think this is an area that many of us struggle with.
How is Your Prayer Follow Through?
Over the last few years, the Spirit has convicted me on a number of occasions concerning this very idea of prayer follow through. After my mom was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer over four years ago, I found myself on the receiving end of a lot of prayer promises. Looking back, I wonder how many were actually brought to the Lord’s throne?
After the Holy Spirit convicted me of my poor prayer follow through, I have to admit, it began to make me cringe internally when I would hear people offer to pray so flippantly; blatantly void of real intention to follow through. As Christians, the most powerful resource we have is being able to approach the throne of God with confidence through prayer and petition. There are over 650 prayers listed in the bible and 450 recorded answered prayers. In Paul’s writings alone, prayer is mentioned 41 times and throughout the Bible, nine different types of prayer appear.
So simply said, prayer has power!
In the book of James it says, “…pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV). This only applies to the actual prayers that offered up, not the ones that die a slow death of good intentions. I think we all want to have better prayer follow through but in a world full of noise and countless distractions, we need to explore some practical ways to become more faithful in our prayer follow through and put actionable feet to our professed faith.
“I will pray for you” is a statement we say in the moment but our action is implied in the future.
Try exchanging this phrase with, “Can I pray for you now?” This offering takes boldness and courage in the moment. Remember, your words do not have to be perfect, eloquent or beautiful- just speak with a sincere and humble heart and offer your sentiments up to Christ out of love for Him and for the person you are praying for. Seizing the moment and harnessing the power of the present will take you out of your comfort zone but will definitely help improve your prayer follow through. “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” (Matthew 18:20, MSG).
Keep a prayer list.
Keep a prayer list in the pages of a journal, on the refrigerator, dry erase board or in the notes section of your smart phone. Choose a method that is easy and works best for you. Don’t complicate it or over think it. Find a safe place to keep names and prayer intentions and make sure it is easily accessible and something you will look at routinely throughout the day. Whatever system you choose, stay current, keep track of the intentions and even make a note of when you specifically prayed. If the prayer was answered, make note of that as well and offer the Lord praise for the way He is working in the lives around you. For ongoing intentions, keep watch and be expectant for how God will move.
Seize the moment and pray individually.
Similar to #1, except instead of inviting the person into prayer with you in the moment, offer up a promise to pray for them and their intention and instead of waiting until “later” or your next session of quiet time, you take a moment, right then, to commune with the Lord independently.
Write out your prayer.
If you are someone that enjoys writing, this might be a great option for you. During your prayer time throughout the day, try taking a few quiet moments and handwrite your prayer intercession on a notecard and either send it via snail mail or hand deliver it. We also live in the digital age, where there is no shortage of ways to communicate with one another. If time is a factor, take a few minutes and write a prayer via text or email. Call me old fashioned but I prefer a pen and paper. But, if the opportunity presents itself and timing is of the essence, take advantage of the resources at hand. A handwritten prayer can be a timeless keepsake and treasured blessing
Set a prayer alarm.
One benefit of living in such a tech savvy society is the abundance of technology we have readily available to us. If you have a watch or a smart phone, chances are you have the ability to set an alarm on your device. Commit to praying at a certain time(s) throughout the day for a specific person or prayer intention on your list. Life is so busy and there are so many things vying for our time and our attention. By setting an alarm as a reminder to pray, it takes the pressure off of your brain to remember to do it in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the day.
There is no right or wrong time to pray. As far as place is concerned, God doesn’t care if you talk to Him in the shower or while you are up to your eyeballs in dirty laundry. By keeping a rolling dialogue with God throughout the day, I find it much easier to keep my prayer intentions fresh and my follow through on point.
Follow up on the prayer request.
Praying for someone is a privilege and watching the way the Lord chooses to answer a prayer is a blessing when you are on the giving or receiving end of the prayer. After you have prayed for someone, be sure to follow up with them afterward. This is also a great way to gauge whether the need has changed or if the prayer has turned into an answered praise!
My prayer for you (and for me) is that we commit to becoming praying people of our word. Our prayers are powerful and can be a treasured blessing to someone in need of prayer support. However, good intention with no follow through is not a prayer, but an empty promise.
“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out”(Ephesians 6:13-18, MSG).