So, the question is, “Do I share a concern that I have with others so that they can pray for me and with me?” What if I am wired as a pretty private person and prefer not to “air out” my concerns? What if I have a theological understanding that God already knows my needs and I have prayed personally and specifically about them to Him? Perhaps… “What is the value of getting as many people as possible to pray about something? Does God give in and answer a prayer if you get enough uprising of prayer voices?”
A theology of prayer is not one that many people can articulate, and I don’t expect this short article to suddenly change the world on that matter; however, I do want to offer a perspective that I hope will be helpful.
Recently I came to a milestone in my education. After four doctoral seminars and two advanced doctoral seminars, after reading tens of thousands of pages of texts and hundreds of hours of lecture and conversation about numerous subjects…I had to sit for my comprehensive exams (aka Comps). All of the information I was exposed to and thought about for (in my case) nearly two years was on the table and I had to synthesize it and respond to questions about it. One question was an essay response to a prompt and two questions were “oral board” style with faculty members and a subject matter “practitioner” expert.
So, how do you prepare for that? One thing is pray. While I have a generally good grasp of tests…this one seemed to have so much riding on it, that I was genuinely nervous. So, I prayed and I shared the burden of my anxiousness with those close to me (family, close friends, my LIFE Group, etc.). Here are some of the reasons why I shared with others…reasons I will refer to as benefits:
- Vulnerability. When you ask others to pray for you, you remind everyone, including yourself, that you are not invincible. This promotes humility. It also facilitates trust.
- People want to help you. Others recognize when you are genuinely burdened about something and they want to help.
- Community. Christians live in close-quarters with one another. We are on mission together. It would be derelict to withhold the fact that you are distracted by a concern.
- Encouragement. Knowing others were praying and then receiving encouraging notes and texts mattered. It lifted me.
- Shared Victory. When I passed my comps, a HUGE weight was lifted. I still have a ton of work to do, but this was really a big hurdle. I felt like I achieved something. I told Jodi, “I can see the light at the other end now.” I also sensed that many other people felt that they shared in that victory. They did, by the way, because we are a community and we labored together in prayer…so the victory is shared! But…the point is…they FELT the victory when WE PASSED the tests. To not share would have denied others of that realized experience of victory.
So, I get “private” and all that…but with so many benefits of having others pray for you…wouldn’t it be wise to admit that maybe God has a better plan and permit the community to function as it is designed?
Who are you “denying” the opportunity to feel victory because you wanted to keep a real burden private.