I become a Christian in 1997. Prior to that I was a drunkard and a gambler. (Among other things.) The truth behind my drinking was that I was very shy. And I was dreadfully afraid of girls – though I liked them heaps. Having a belly full of grog loosened my lips, threw of my shyness and I could become the life of a party… though falling into a vomiting mess at the end of the night. God in his sense of humor had prepared me some what, by having me take on roles that required public speaking and greeting people through a service club called ROTARACT… though I still used alcohol as the courage starter.
When I became a Christian I knew I wasn’t called to be a singer for my shower turns its self off. I hated the thought of public speaking. So I decided to throw myself into helping where ever I could, and to pray for whoever I could. The thought of preaching scared me so much, that when my pastor asked me to preach, I told him I couldn’t, and he said to me, to tell him when I was ready.
On the way to Bible College the next day, I felt the Lord question me as to why I was going to college. I said because you had called me to. In his gentleness he asked me again, and what had I called you to college for… to become a minister he said… So with cap in hand, I went to my pastor and told him of my encounter and said yes I will preach. God took away my fear to do so, and the very first sermon was at a Baptism service and the church was packed with heaps of visitors. But I ramble a bit, as I want to more so focus on prayer.
The church I went to had a practice where a time came for the congregation to pray in the service. The first time I prayed out loud, I had said to the Lord. God I have no idea of what to pray, but I sense you want me to, what do you want me to pray?
Suddenly I was filled with boldness and blurted out – “Father God, I ask that you restrain the hand of the person in this church who is suicidal, and fill them with the knowledge of your love and care for them!” Just as quickly as the boldness came to speak, it left me, and I left it at that. Some nine years later I was at a Bible Study where we were talking about a suicide awareness and prevention network I had set up in the local area, and someone mentioned that experience in the church. They told me, they had come to say goodbye to friends, and go home and take their life. They had just prayed Lord, show me how you love me, and I burst in on her prayers and prayed what I did. Needless to say that person was in a very much better place.
Since that experience in 1997 I have made it a practice to say Lord, I don’t know how to pray for this situation, or how to pray for this person, will you pray through me, and I often start to pray in a boldness and a way not of my own. Another prayer I prayed was that I would become an encourager. And I prayed this prayer daily for many years.
I can’t count the number of times the Lord has placed someone on my heart to pray for. And I often begin my prayers with “Lord, you know what they need, how should I pray for them.” And I pray for them as I feel led to pray.
I noticed that the Apostle Paul in his letters, not only told people that he was praying for them, he also wrote to them, telling them what he was praying for them. And I started with the practice of not only praying for people, but also writing my prayers down and giving them to them.
I have lost count the number of times people have said to me, “Craig, your email, your letter, your note came at the right time to encourage me, to lift me up, and to speak life into me. How did you know?”
The reality is its the Spirit of God praying through me. It’s 20 years since I became born again. I have come to recognize the Spirit of God prompts to pray for someone. His call to pray for the person in need. While I know this could be super spiro for some – the reality is it shouldn’t be. God is real. We are in a real relationship with the real God. And so its right and proper we recognise his promptings and directions in how we are to pray.
Perhaps your new to prayer. Perhaps your curious about prayer – but are unsure of how to pray. If so, I would like to encourage you to say to the Lord, “Help me to pray, show me how to pray for this person, or this situation.” And while I know you will be, because I always am – don’t be surprised at just how God answers that prayer.
Father God, I ask that you teach us to pray. Teach us to be a praying people. Praying in relationship with you. Bless those who are reading this devotional with a sense of calling and deeper longing to pray. In Jesus name I ask.