This past weekend I was invited to help train the Prayer Intercessors at Faith Christian Fellowship. They are a volunteer team who are available to pray with people after each Sunday morning worship service at FCF. Here are my notes and the audio recording of my talk, in hopes that it might help you pray with others in a wise and helpful way.
How to Pray With Others
Things to consider
- Warmly welcome: smile, make eye contact, give your first name, ask theirs.
- Your purpose is to make the person asking for prayer feel listened to and cared for and prayed for without receiving advice or other forms of counsel. It’s an opportunity to be with a person where they are at – and take their concerns to the throne of God.
- All you really need is sincerity, compassion and a conviction about God’s goodness.
- Use “we” when appropriate to communicate our need is essentially the same – we are not the ‘arrived’ who pray for the ‘needy’ – we are all in need of God’s grace.
- Do a small amount of listening to get gist. It’s okay to ask them what specifically they might want prayer for in the midst of it.
- Pray for the external situation and pray for them in the situation …
- Ask before any touching – sometimes holding hands is okay, or a hug at end. Use judgment, depending on how well you know person, their comfort level, gender dynamics, etc.
- It’s okay to take a moment of silence before praying.
- It’s a conversation with God, so talk as though He is in room (because He is!).
- Pray scripture about God’s character, works and promises.
- Prayers that enable them to live out the two great commandments – loving God and loving others.
- Consider a structure if helpful, such as the comfort and the call of the gospel.
- It’s okay to pray in generalities about things you don’t know (like how the trial is affecting them). There is much to pray for that is common to all of us.
- Consider male / female dynamics, and whether both of you or just one of you will pray.
- Keep requests confidential.
- If person discusses anything troubling, ask if they want any follow up from a church leader if appropriate. Ask if you can get back to them after you have spoken with someone.
- If an issue of safety comes up (like suicide or abuse), get another person involved right away. Ask if someone else can pray too. It’s ok to ask a specific question (like “Are you suicidal right now?”) if you’re not sure.
Things to avoid
- Counseling God on how specifically to fix the situation.
- Giving the person specific counsel through your prayer.
- Imposing your own temptations and challenges into the prayer – they may be responding to the trial differently than you would.
- Being long-winded or reflexively repetitive.
- Using a lot of churchy jargon.
- Don’t show a lot of sympathy; rather, if someone is telling you a hard situation, just show non-verbally that you understand. It’s okay to say something like “that sounds hard,” then “Okay, well let’s take this to God.”
- Prayer is a great place to begin biblical counseling - a blog post by David Powlison
- A Method of Prayer - a book by Matthew Henry
- Weird things we say when we pray - Tim Hawkins (also embedded below - starts at 0:37)