“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” (Col. 4:2-4)
I believe that one of the the best ways we can fervently love the body is to bring one another before the throne of grace. Yet I find that this takes discipline.
It’s easy to say “I’ll be praying for you,” and then proceed with your day or week and never think of that conversation again. About a year-and-a-half ago, I realized I was doing this frequently. It’s the expected Christian behavior when hearing about hardships to respond with a promise of prayer, and although my words were full of good intentions, I often didn’t have the discipline to carry them out. Now, I only tell someone I’ll be praying for them if I truly intend to. Then I ask God to bring them to my mind in the coming days, and He’s faithful to do so. When I run into them later, it’s wonderful to be able to genuinely say that I’ve been praying for them, and to ask for an update on their situation.
I’m also learning that God uses my prayer for others to keep my heart tender toward them. When I’m struggling in my attitude toward a brother or sister, there’s no better way to fight that than to bring them to my Heavenly Father. I’m trying to make that my default reaction to feeling hurt or offended. It reminds me that I, too, am a sinner in need of grace and forgiveness daily.
Here are a few general suggestions toward fervently loving your spiritual family through prayer:
- When you say, “I’ll be praying for you,” discipline yourself to carry that promise out. Make sticky notes or set a cell phone alarm to remind you.
- Make a prayer schedule if you’re not remembering all the people you want to be praying for.
- Redeem your time. Pray in the car, at the kitchen sink, in bed as you fall asleep. You don’t have to be sitting on the couch with your hands folded to talk to God.
- Pray for the people who have hurt or are hurting you. Besides blessing them in ways you’ll never know, it will help you to forgive, love, and move on in your heart.
- Text, email, or call your brother or sister and let them know you’ve been praying for them. That can go a long way.
- Combat gossip with prayer. Stop talking about your church family and pray for them instead.