This is the last week of a month-long series. Read the intro here.
I am in the middle of sharing with you some ways you can encourage one another. We've hit on getting together and getting in touch. Today we'll talk about prayer.
Early on in the series, I took a day to share a list of discouraging circumstances in which people you know might find themselves. Here it is again:
- Grieving a loss of a loved one
- Starting/trying something new
- Unemployment or other financial trial
- Having a new baby or an adoption
- Challenges with kids during different stages
- Caring for aging parents
- Marriage troubles
- When a spouse is deployed
- Any kind of unexpected change in circumstances
At times like this in our lives, we need the encouragement of others to keep going, don't we? As I mentioned in that post, having a list like this in mind can be a trigger for us to catch encouragement opportunities. Some of the things on this list you have lived, so you're uniquely poised to offer encouragement and hope to an individual enduring the same. One of the very best, though seemingly least "productive", things we can offer to encourage another is prayer.
Remember our definition of Christian encouragement?
the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope that is grounded in Christ and points them to Him
What better thing to point someone to the Lord than prayer?! Here are some tips.
Pray Right Away
One of my friends is in the uncommon practice of praying for people right at the moment. If you are talking with her and you mention needing prayer, she quickly says, "Okay, let's do that right now." Or even if you don't specifically mention needing prayer, she notices prayer is needed and offers. I remember hearing on the radio once: Prayer should be our first option, not our last opportunity. My friend models this so well and it is most definitely an encouragement!
For the majority of people, because we are spiritual beings, created in God's image, appreciate being prayed for. One of my friends said she has only been turned down once when offering to pray for someone! ONCE!! That's incredible. Praying for one another changes lives. It changes ours, as we entrust struggles, trials, and hardships to the Lord. And it changes the lives of the prayed for, as they see God work in their circumstances. God gets all the glory for working in the "impossible".
I know we are all forgetful. So when you are in a situation where you want to remember to pray or you tell someone you will pray for them, WRITE IT DOWN! For me, the back of my hand is my go-to spot, till I can jot it down some where else. Keep a prayer list, hang a note somewhere you'll be reminded to pray regularly, or something like that to help you be faithful to continue in prayer.
A habit I would like to get into is praying for people who "randomly" come to mind, rather than simply wondering about how curious it was to think of them at that moment. Again, encouragement involves habit. If I prayed for them, I could even let them know I am doing that when I get in touch!
Finally, no matter how regular or irregular you are, let the person know you are praying for them. How good it is for our spirits and our faith to know that another is coming before the Lord on our behalf!
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people. Ephesians 6:18
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To celebrate the end of the series, I have a gift collection I'd like to give away: a small journal, note cards (you know, so you can encourage some folks with them), pens, and chocolate (because chocolate)! It gives me great pleasure to send off a little gift to a reader. I am humbled that you all take the time to be here and learn with me.
"Heather, how do I enter?"
Glad you asked. We're going to keep this one super simple. Leave an "I'm in" comment, or something like that on a post between today and Sunday, and I'll drop your name in the hat. I'll announce the winner on Monday, November 30 in the final post of the series.