Prayer is a powerful act of Christianity. I love to laugh and enjoy life, but I am serious when I commit to pray for, about, or with someone. I admit that as a young Christian, there were times that I would tell someone, you are in my prayers, and then forget to pray for them or even to pray at all. Yes I said it; there was a time in my life that I was a "faux prayer". When I began to get serious about my relationship with Jesus I also began to take my own promises serious as well. Therefore when I commit to pray for others I usually must write it down in my planner. I have made a promise to myself that if I say I will pray, I need to plan today, so not to delay. God has reminded me that, when praying, we should be focused about keeping our word, but remember to be joyful in our prayer requests.
It is a serious thing to make a decision to accept Jesus as the Lord of your life. But as Christians sometimes we allow our relationship with the Lord to become so serious that the joy of the Lord becomes squashed under the heaviness of our circumstances or the circumstances of others, and our prayer lives can be affected.
"always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,"
(Phil. 1:4 NKJV).
A while back I was re-reading Philippians and I kept being drawn back to this verse. Clearly, the Lord was teaching me a lesson for my own prayer life. I considered myself a joyful person even during my private time with the Lord, but the word "ALWAYS" shined at me like a florescent applause sign. I had to ask myself; when I make a request for someone do I bring it with joy...always? And what does this mean, anyway?
When I pray for someone who is going through challenging times, often I feel sad or frustrated for my friend, which is a natural feeling that occurs when you care for some one. But when we allow those types of feelings to wiggle their way into our prayer time then we are not doing anyone any favors. What good is it to come to the Lord, who loves and cares for us and who we care about, with a bunch of feelings that cover all of our requests? As I asked myself this question I began to uncover the root issue:
If we really believe that someone has our best interest at heart and has all the answers that we could ever want to know, then shouldn't we bring our requests to Him boldly and full of joy? We may be sad that a friend is fighting cancer or looking for a job, but when we pray for those friends we should come to the Lord "ALWAYS" expectant, "ALWAYS" believing, and therefore "ALWAYS" joyful. Requesting with joy does not mean that we are happy with our circumstances or another persons' challenging season of life, but it does mean that we believe more in God's ability than our own feelings.
Laughing or winking at a pit that someone is climbing out of does not show the mercy of God, but at the same token bringing our worry into our prayer life will help no one either. Believing in God and ALL of His promises should help to feed the joy fruit on the inside of our spirit. It is true that we can pray for someone, but we can not believe for someone. When it is all said and done our own will and faith in the Lord and all that He has already done for us makes all of the difference. But it sure does not help the situation if we allow our unbelieving emotions to come to the throne in prayer. One of the best Scriptures that has helped me in this are is the following:
"For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be thou cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."
(Mrk 11:23-25 NKJV)
The challenge for me was not in believing this promise for myself, but coming to God, joyfully, declaring this for others when I was not sure if they believed this for themselves. The truth is that even though I love someone I must not worry if they believe or not, but only make the request that I can, with joy. I may not know what another person agrees to, but I can boldly with joy, always standing in agreement with the One who will help them come to know the truth. We are all "a work in progress" who must believe always by coming joyfully to the Lord with all of our requests.