If you are part of a local church, then, no doubt, you regularly find yourself at ministry functions where you and everybody else are asked to give prayer requests in a group setting. I thoroughly enjoy praying with God’s people, but often during these times there is little praying that goes on compared to other things (you’ll see what I mean in a minute). So with my wife’s help, I have compiled a list of helpful tips that will make giving prayer requests a more blessed and efficient time that will, hopefully, move us to prayer with greater ease.
1) Don’t make it story time – We’ve all done it… turned our prayer request into our memoirs. I understand that many prayer requests require some background, and I know we want to be inform the people praying as best we can, but there are other people who are sinners living in a messed up world who need prayer too. Let’s try not to monopolize this time so that others have only seconds to give their requests and then prayer has to be squeezed into five minutes for a group of six.
2) Don’t use it as a “holy” way to gossip – If a request requires you to speak ill of someone in order to give it, then either don’t use names or don’t give it at all. Prayer requests have a way of taking our gossip and making it look like we actually care about the person who fell off the wagon, when what we’re really doing is throwing him/her under the bus.
3) Don’t use it as a an occasion to collect pity for yourself – Giving a prayer request presupposes that you need help with something. That’s okay, God made us to need Him, but prayer request time can very easily turn into getting others to feel sorry for us. Beware, pity is just another form of pride. If we can’t get people to praise us, our proud hearts will often do things to get people to pity us instead.
4) If you’re going to give a physical request, combine it with a spiritual one too – Too often we turn prayer time into simply praying for physical requests like upcoming surgeries or job hunts. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t pray for these things, we should, but an examination of the prayers of Paul in his letters will find that most of his prayers were spiritual in nature. He mostly prayed for things like unity in the church and being filled with the knowledge of Jesus Christ. If you give a request for someone who is sick, combine it with a request that the person would trust God no matter what happens and that this would be an occasion for this person to let go of other things they are seeking comfort in and instead find his/her comfort in Christ.
5) Give a summary – So that the people don’t have to go to court reporting school to write down your request, if you have to give background, make a habit of giving a concise summary statement that people can record and remember.
6) It’s not about you – Remember that even though you are giving your request, prayer time should still be about the glory of God. So make Him the ultimate end to whatever you are asking prayer for. This adjustment may very well change the way you convey your requests from now on.