Love or Lecture?

We learn a friend, family member or someone we don’t know is going through a difficult time in their life and are seeking prayer. It doesn’t matter if their need is physical or emotional, a “listening ear and heart” can be the greatest gift we can give.

Too often Christians feel this person must have done something “wrong” to seek prayer for something of such magnitude.  This is not the time to exhibit knowledge of how many bible verses we can quote or that the person seeking prayer is pursuing opinions.  If a person says, “will you pray with me or for me” unless they ask for scriptures or advice, why can’t we just pray and show some concern?

This has always been perplexing to me when the individual offering prayer for another, immediately feels it is their right to dictate what that person must do, especially when they do not personally know the one seeking prayer (routinely they received the person’s name from a church prayer list). Countless times, I have heard someone tell the one they were asked to pray for, that they “must do thus/so.”

Carey  Nieuwhof, says, “You can’t pray for someone you judge because you’re actually not for them. Sure, you can pray about them, but again, your prayer won’t be grounded in humility. It might be grounded in anger, or in arrogance, or superiority, but it won’t be grounded in love.”

I recently read a wonderful article by Benjamin and Meredith Green, “How To Pray for Someone That Is Hurting.” They possess astuteness which many twice their age do not acquire. “Pray for wisdom for them and for you. Pray that your friend will have the wisdom they need to navigate their situation and to make some hard choices. Pray for the wisdom you need to know when and how to best help and support them.”

That is a gift which no amount of expertise can provide. Over the years dozens of fellow Christians have asked me to pray for them.  It is seldom their sorrow was anything like I endured. Yet, I possessed the empathy to pray with them. They weren’t seeking judgment nor advice; just care and support.

As I read these words from Chuck Swindoll when he met a friend, I was reminded that seldom do we totally understand what another is experiencing.  “ The subject of wisdom kept sliding into our conversation. He and I were agreeing on the value of certain qualities that cannot be learned in school—things like intuition, diligence, integrity, perception, consistency, loyalty . . . and he, again, mentioned wisdom. Wisdom is hard to define because it means much more than knowledge and goes much deeper than awareness… So I asked, “How does a person get wisdom? I realize we are to be men and women of wisdom, but few people ever talk about how it’s acquired.” His answer was quick and to the point. “Pain.”

Most of us have experienced pain, so this gives us the wisdom to pray and show concern without adjudication. Colossians 1:9 NKJ, “for this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will…”

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