One of my favorite (read: least favorite) habits of the Church is to ask someone, “Can you pray for me?” when what is actually meant is, “Can I complain to you for a minute?”

Don’t think that I’m an opponent of asking others for prayer. In fact, my hope is that this post encourages us to do it more…but to do it with caution.

If you’re like me, sharing your burdens with others out loud helps you clear your mind. But does it help solve the problem?

When we’re asking for prayer requests, is it because we know the power of prayer, or is it because we want to vent? One of my favorite quotes on prayer is, “Prayer doesn’t work; God does.”

“If you’re like me, venting helps you clear your mind. But does it help solve the problem?”

It’s not the words we speak that have effect over a given problem – it’s the God to whom those words are focused. Next time you ask for prayer, ask yourself:

     1. Have I come before God for this before coming before people?
     2. Am I coming before people for the right reasons?

The prayers of others should be in addition to the petitions you’re already making before God. Don’t ask others to pray so you have another set of ears to complain to. Ask them to join you in praying so that there’s another set of lips bringing your prayers to God. And as you pray, “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” [Col. 4:2]. Rejoice in what the Lord is doing, even if you’re not completely sure what it may be at the time. Lift your prayers to the Lord, guard them with thankfulness, find counsel in others, and trust in His power.

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