Can you spare a prayer?
by Mervyn Morelock, Lt. Colonel –
Hey, buddy, can you spare a prayer?” A strange question! I saw the sentence in a War Cry headline recently, and the title caught my imagination.
“Buddy, can you spare some change? I just need a quarter to catch a bus.” We’ve all heard those kinds of requests and usually most of us say, “No, sorry,” and go our way.
But, “Spare a prayer?”
A few years ago, I was surprised when someone told about a need he had during the testimony time, and the leader of the meeting, “Let’s pray now!” And he did. I thought, “Now why didn’t he say, “See me after the meeting, or “Come to the office tomorrow?” No, he stopped right there and prayed! I was amazed. I’d never seen that done before. Imagine interrupting the “sacred” order of service to pray!
Have you ever had someone ask for you for prayer, and you said, “Oh, yes, I’ll pray for you,” and promptly forget all about it? I’m sure we all have.
How do you handle requests for prayer? Just like many other things, we feel we’ll have to wait for a better time, a quiet place, when it is more convenient to pray, when I can fit it into my intercessory prayer schedule, and sometimes we’d be embarrassed and viewed as being “too religious” if we stopped at that moment to pray.
How do you pray when you are faced with a whole laundry list of prayer needs? I have an image of a television-evangelist walking up to a massive stack of prayer request letters and waving his hand over them as he prayed. I’ve wondered how many needs were met out of the thousands of requests that were prayed over? Ten percent? Ninety percent? We’ll never know, of course, but since we trust God to hear all our prayers, my mustard seed-sized faith believes that God does know and answers prayer according to our faith.
I’ve tried to explain to myself and others how God can hear the prayers of millions, sort them all out and answer them, every day, 24 hours a day around the world. I really can’t fathom it. However, one day I saw an analogy as I sat at the computer and realized that electronically my e-mails come from all over the globe in hardly more than an instant. And millions of others are flying around to their destinations too! God created electricity and the radio waves, so surely that pile of letters and those millions of prayer requests can just as easily be answered individually as my e-mail!
When someone asks you to pray for them, don’t delay, but do it then. And at the end of the day, when there is a little quiet time, allow the Holy Spirit to jog your memory for that prayer need that you saw, or felt or heard.
God wants his people to be a praying people, with no procrastination, no delay. So next time, stop what you are doing and offer that person the power that comes “when two agree in prayer” (Matthew 18:19).
Every week 50 or more prayer requests are sent by e-mail to the 320 corps and institutional congregations in the West. Many call toll-free: 1(877) 347-PRAY to listen to the requests. Each week the list is recorded on the new web page: saprayusw.com. And God is answering!
A request for prayer is a sacred opportunity to be a blessing and to release the incredible power of God to heal, to restore relationships, and to encourage discouraged and lost people. Many prayer requests are a last resort, reaching out for help. Let’s never be too busy. So the next time someone says, “Hey buddy, can you spare a prayer?” you should answer, “Yes, my friend, and we’ll do it now!” You’ll be amazed at the results!