What if the hardest gift, but the best gift you can give someone doesn't wait for a calendar date. What if the recipient doesn't even know your name……
You have a long shopping list for Christmas and trudge through the stores, circle for a parking space, or hope your online cart gets through checkout without that coveted gift going out of stock.
Then birthdays and anniversaries, and unexpected weddings and babies creep up all year long.
Gifts! Gifts! Gifts! It can be so hard to find the perfect gift for someone!
But what if gift-giving was more than packages, boxes, and bags?
I dare you to give this priceless gift to a perfect stranger…or to your children….or your spouse.
This gift won't cost you money, only time.
You won't have to sacrifice endless hours, only pride.
You won't have to overcome crowds, you'll only have to overcome fear.
What gift makes you spend so little yet risk so much?
It's a gift that could have an eternal impact on another and yet leave them with nothing in hand. Giving the gift of prayer is the best thing you can give someone any time of year.
I challenge you, no I dare you, to step out of your comfort zone and exercise your right as a child of God to pray for someone.
Taking The Risk
I know how risky it is to pray for someone you don't know (or even someone you do). I've been there. Sweaty palms, dry mouth, the trembling feeling inside. Yet, deep down, you know you need to do it. I once felt led to pray for a woman at the grocery store. I stalked her for 4 isles until I got up the courage to approach her. In the end, she not only received my prayer but was very thankful because she had an issue weighing on her regarding her daughter's health.
The first time I prayed for my husband out loud it was so weird and I felt out of place. I don't even remember what I prayed about but it was worse than being in front of the AP English class reciting Shakespeare.
I also know how it feels to be turned down when you offer to pray for someone. You wonder if you missed God or if you said the wrong thing. God honors our obedience in stepping out in faith regardless of the other person's reaction.
When my husband was in the hospital for what we thought was heart issues, a man struck up a conversation with me in the elevator. It was the 2-month anniversary of his wife's passing and he came to visit with the nurses that had taken care of her. I offered to pray for him after we exited the elevator, he declined and quickly walked away.
There are lots of things we risk as Christians, our pride should be one of them. Don't concern yourself with what you'll say, let the Lord lead you. Don't worry if you're rejected, the other person might not be ready yet, but you have planted a seed just by offering.
Effectively Praying for Others
You need to understand that praying for others has little to do with you, a bit more to do with them and everything to do with God. When we reach past our fears and reach into the lives of others we are worshiping God.
Key #1 – Effect prayer for others starts at home.
When you're praying for a stranger, sure you are hearing properly for God. You need to be tuned into God and the only way for that to happen is to continually work on your relationship with Him.
And, starting out with praying for your family may be an easy way to get comfortable praying out loud, over someone (not just a silent prayer while passing by).
Key #2 – See the Person not the Prospect of Prayer
This one is hard sometimes. When you find someone you feel led to pray for it's easy to get focused only on the act of praying. Remember, you're are talking to a person. Genuinely hear what they are saying to you.
Key #3 – Talk and Wait for God
If you have the time, hold a short conversation with the person. There are times when the Lord will say, “Go pray for them now,” and there might not be time for conversation. Other times you have an opportunity to talk, perhaps to the gal waiting behind you in a massive checkout line. Strike up a conversation and see if the Lord leads you to pray for her. If nothing else, you've blessed her just by being friendly.
Remember, family can be the hardest because they see your flaws and failures, and sometimes they aren't so forgiving. It's okay to step out and it's okay to acknowledge that you're not perfect but you are trying to do better.
Key #4 – Have Tact and Respect
Always respect the other person's time, feelings, and space. Ask if you can pray for them and if you are comfortable laying a hand on someone always ask if it's okay with them. I watched our pastor pray for a gentleman while we were volunteering at our local apple festival and the conversation was very relaxed and respectful. The gentleman was talking about an ailment he had and Pastor said something like this, “At our church, we are encouraged to pray for those who need healing. Would it be okay if I said a prayer for you?” The man agreed and a short prayer, 30-45 seconds was offered up for the man's healing. We don't need full-on deliverance prayers every time we pray for someone. Flashy $5.00 words won't make the prayer any more effective.