Many years ago, I was having a conversation with a very dear friend. She was telling me some things about myself that I had not directly told her before. No one could have known, because I had not shared with anyone. She was quite observant, but I was still surprised when she shared with me her thoughts. I asked her how she knew. She said, “I know you because I pray for you.” I didn’t really understand that fully at the time…but over the years I began to learn what she meant.
The Lord had obviously led her to pray things for me that were core for me at the time. How is it possible to pray for someone that deeply without having been given a specific prayer request? What would it look like for Jesus to invite us into his thoughts, ideas and desires for another person? How can we cooperate with Him as we pray for our friends and family?
Let’s begin with a scene from the life of Jesus in Luke:
One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven. ”The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” (Luke 5:17-26)
This level of friendship is hard to come by. These men were willing to bring harm to property, disrupt a meeting, and make fools of themselves just so they could get their friend in the Presence of Jesus.
Neither the friends nor the paralyzed man ever made a request. They simply lowered their friend down and Jesus immediately responded to this act of faith. He knew, on every level, what the paralyzed man needed. He dealt with his soul first (“Your sins are forgiven”). Then he moved to his body (“Get, up, take your mat and go home”).
This Thanksgiving week, many of us will be gathering with family and friends to share a meal and spend time together. We can follow the example of the paralyzed man's friends as we pray for the people with whom we will gather. We don’t have to load them up on a mat and tear through a rooftop. We can simply pray.
Like my friend, maybe we can learn how to know our friends and family better by bringing them into the Presence of Jesus.
SUGGESTIONS FOR PRAYING
As we pray for the people in our lives, how might we be as bold as the men in Luke 5:17-26 were in bringing our loved ones to Jesus? He already knows what they need. How can we hold them in His presence so that He may do what He most deeply desires to do in their lives?
Choose one person
A family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor.
Remember who Jesus is
Jesus is loving. He is powerful and His authority is unmatched. He longs to bring healing.
…the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal… [and] the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.
Bring the person to Jesus in prayer
You may use the imagery from the story in Luke 5 if you’d like. Maybe your friend is unable to move because of her issues. You know that Jesus can help, so you carry her to Him. He sees her and he knows exactly what she needs. He brings healing on every level.
Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
What would Jesus most desire for this person?
Consider what Jesus would like to say or do for this person. If they were standing together, what is the first thing that Jesus might say to your friend? Let this be a simple word or phrase, nothing long or fancy.
…He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” [and] “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
Let His desire become your request
Linger here in trust for a moment.
“When Jesus saw their faith…”
Thank the Lord
Thank Him for embracing you and your friend. Thank Him for allowing you to extend His grace on behalf of your friend.
Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
This practice doesn’t have to be long. If you have a list of people for which you would like to pray, spend about one minute with each name. If your list is long, simply divide up your people over the course of a few days. You decide how often you would like to pray in this manner. It is all grace.
(This post was first printed on the Presence Blog, September 2013.)