Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dear Readers,

Here I am with spaghetti sticks in my hair writing a letter to you.

It's typical for me to wake up and have someone "on my mind". I pray early after getting out of bed and grabbing a cup of coffee. When I realize I've got whoever-it-is on my mind, I begin to pray for them. I may know them well or only in passing or not at all (national figures, etc.) I commend them to God's good care and move on. Sometimes, the person stays with me throughout the day.

Here's my question, O Wise Readers: do I contact the person to let them know they are "on my mind"? If it's a local or email person, I could contact them to let them know I'm praying for them.

I attempt to be gentle about prayer. I give the people I visit in the hospital the deciding vote on whether or not I pray for them by their bed. Maybe they are wild for me to get out of the room. Perhaps they want to hold on to their dignity and not cry about their situation and believe a prayer would unleash the tears. I don't know so I ask in a way that allows them to save face and tell me "no".

If I am out in the community and think a person may want prayer for their distress (illness, grief, worry about someone they love) I'll offer to pray with a gentle, "whatever you like.." so they can turn me down.

But what about the names or faces of people who jump into my mind? I pray for them but should I contact them? Geez, I hate being intrusive so this is a real issue. I can be quite the bulldog in other areas of my life so I want to be careful not to upset someone's nerves.

If someone called me up to tell me they were praying for me, I think I'd be delighted. Delighted unless they were praying that I would "get a clue" "come co-sign a bank loan for them" or that I'd come to my senses and give up the ministry because only men can be preachers. Those kind of prayers don't seem like prayers to me and appear to be manipulative.

How do you handle when the Spirit brings a name to your mind for prayer?

St. Casserole


Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

I know that, if God laid me on your heart, I would be delighted that you let me know. It would do so much for me to know that God was leading someone in prayer for me. Sort of like a double blessing.

We get too caught up in what other people might think.

And I LOVE it when you post pics of yourself!! I will certainly recognize you if we ever pass one another in the mall. *grins*

Elaine said...

Think how much nicer a world it would be if we all got e-mails that said, in effect, "I don't know why, but for some reason today I thought of you and that time we played hookie together from geometry class 30-years-ago. Just thought I would say hi."

Ok, weird example, but you get the point.


KnittinPreacher said...

So often I am praying for so many other people and wondering "who prays for me?" The former supply pastor of this church remonded me abotu a month ago that he and his wife pray for me every day and it made my spirits soar. I think that the random "I thought of you today and said a prayer" notes and calls may do wonders where you least expect them to.

Mark Smith said...

There is prayer that is more a manipulative purpose - that is bad. Example: Pray that X wakes up and realizes that the guy she's living with is a deadbeat.

Then there is prayer that is for a more generic purpose - that is good. Example: Pray that X finds peace in her life, particularly with her roommate/boyfriend/etc.

I'd really prefer NOT to know that somebody is praying to force me to do something or to make a change in my life that I don't want to make. I would love to hear that someone is praying for me to experience peace, to find a deeper meaning to life, etc.

I've always thought that God knows when a prayer is more about the pray-er's desires than the pray-ee's needs.

I dunno if I answered your question - I think my answer is in there someplace. I pray that you find it. :-)

thankyoudarlin said...

I appreciate your use of caution - it shows sensitivity to the reality that some people would be uncomfortable with hearing about it. I tend to go situation to situation.
For example, the other day in conversation a woman mentioned to me a third party who needed prayer. I'd had the third party on my mind for days, not sure why. It was a moment of confirmation for both of us.
Other times, someone will tell me, "so and so needs you to call them." And I've been praying for so and so already. Then the confirmation is an affirmation to me - I don't say anything, I just feel shored-up to do ministry.
You're doing well, friend - keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I rather like it when someone tells me they've been praying for me, unless that person has clearly indicated that he/she thinks I am woefully inadequate/going to hell/should be forced out of my current call/etc. The I've-been-praying-for-you as a threat or patronizing act.

Sometimes I also experience the wake-up-thinking-about-someone-and-praying-that-the-person-finds-peace-today moments. Especially if you know the person has been asking for prayer, let them know.

zorra said...

If it's a close friend or someone who I know would appreciate being prayed for, I tell them. Otherwise I might just ask them how they are doing and tell them they have been on my mind.

I often get a nudge to pray for one of my oldest friends, and she for me. Then when one of us says "You've been on my mind today" or "I prayed for you," the other one always seems to say, "Thanks! Here's what's going on..." We may not understand how prayer "works", but I love it that the Spirit nudges us to pray for one another.

Songbird said...

This morning I had a meeting with a pastor of another denomination to discuss a possible ecumenical effort. We don't know each other, but we have a dear friend and colleague in common, and I trusted that connection enough to tell her something fairly important about my life. As we closed our meeting, she asked if it would be okay if she prayed for me? I can't tell you how much I appreciated it, even if it did make me cry a little.

cheesehead said...

Sometimes I am absolutely convinced that nobody prays for me.

(I tell you this because it colors my answer.)

I say tell 'em. In your gentle way, tell 'em.
If the worst thing somebody tells them all day is "I prayed for you.", well that's a pretty damn fine day, eh?

Sue said...

I'm with cheesehead. Tell them. And trust yourself to know when and how.

Mary Beth said...

I tell them that I have been praying for them, (or if I sense that would weird them out, I tell them I've been thinking about them) and how great it was to have the chance to spend time with them vicariously.

Or something like that.

Sometimes they look wild eyed and say, "Oh, um, okay" but mostly they say, "How nice! Thank you!"

ps: I am praying for everyone in this thread, and especially Cheesehead. :)