Pray Back

A friend from another church sought my advice some time ago about a conflict she had with the pastor. "Do you ever pray together?" I asked.

"Well," she replied, "He has prayed FOR me several times, but no, we have never really prayed together."

Those words haunted me long after the conversation. How many times in my life and ministry have I been guilty of the same thing -- praying FOR people, but not really WITH them.

As a direct result of that encounter, I began conducting a prayer experiment.

Almost always now, whever it comes time to pray with someone, I say, "I'd like to pray for you, but then would you be willing to say a prayer for me?"

I've done this with staff and ministry leaders of course -- but I've also done it with people who have come in for counseling, during nursing home, hospital and shut in visits -- even with folks coming in seeking benevolence assistance.

At first, they look stunned -- then they normally smile, and almost everyone is willing to pray back. (Even the few who say they'd rather not pray out loud, always tell me that they will remember me in their private prayers.)

A few outstanding things have come from this new approach:

1) Empowerment:
The request gives them confidence. It tells them that we are not in a hierachical relationship -- but are on the level. God listens to their prayers too.

2) Tears:
Often, people cry when they're praying aloud for me. It deeply touches their hearts -- and ministers to their souls. (mine too!)

3) Responsibility:
It reminds them that they have a duty to pray for others -- and it is more blessed to give than to receive.

4) Fulfillment:
It brings great joy and more love to their hearts.

5) Faith:
It stretches their faith -- and that's always a good thing.

I recommend that every pastor give the "Pray Back" a try. It's a great way to hit heaven.


Anonymous said…
Nellie Dee said…
Wow. That's really powerful. We do so very much need each other!
Anonymous said…
Good thoughts-glad to hear you do not think it is a hierachical relationship.

Often times pastors seem to want to pray for people that they will come around to the pastor's way of thinking.

It it totally wrong to think that God only hears your prayers and not others. This is the downfall of many Christians.

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