7 Ways to Be a Friend Who Prays on the Spot
If you have ever had the experience of being prayed for on the spot, you know what a powerful experience of God's love that can be. Here are seven ways we can move past the awkwardness of asking to pray for someone and become known as Christians who pray with our friends when they need prayer most.
One last sip of water, a check of our shoes, and we hopped out of our car. We had plans to talk out our stresses together on a hike under the trees, my husband, and me. We’d just come from therapy, feeling at the end of ourselves from carrying a weighty load. With a couple of complex medical crises going on in our family, we were in survival mode. Alone time is what we craved, so we’d decided on a more secluded trail.
As we stepped from parking lot to trail, out from the trees came a familiar and friendly face. Our friend and former pastor came jogging out having just finished a run. Surprised, we all smiled, exchanged hugs and hellos. He was distantly aware that we were walking through tough times, so he inquired as to how we were holding up. We shared that life was hard at the moment, but mostly we just smiled and changed the subject, assuming our waves goodbye were next.
Instead of moving on though, he asked if he could pray for us, right there, sweaty and already having been appropriately kind to us. We nodded gratefully. He placed a hand on both our shoulders, bowed his head, and brought our hurts and fears before the Lord. More than the words he spoke, it was the posture of lifting us to our Father in heaven that spoke deeply to the brokenness we felt.
His amen left us feeling seen and heard, filled with a blast of new hope. We were already so grateful for the prayers of many, but this was a different kind of special. His on the spot prayer was neither silly nor small. For us, it was a marked moment in that season.
It felt like God had used him to show us His love. Those few, short minutes under the trees were indeed sacred. For him, it is just what he does. When people are hurting, he places his hand on your shoulder and prays. He doesn’t complicate it, care about awkwardness, or make a promise to pray that he might not keep.
That experience of being prayed for on the spot left me not wanting to let a tender moment pass by where I could pray right then and there. When a person needs prayer, and I feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit, I want to pray. In doing so, it says so much to the person with the need:
1. You are worth my time.
2. I care about you.
3. I listened.
4. I have empathy for your struggle and want to help.
5. I believe God can help you.
6. I am not afraid to be in the middle of the pain with them.
7. God hears our cries.
So how can you move from the type of person who promises to pray, and then might, or might not do so, to the type who feels led to pray and stops to do so immediately? How do we become the person who listens to someone’s needs and then prays, right away?
1. Resolve Yourself
If you decide in advance that this is the kind of person you want to be, you are more likely to follow through. You’ve set an intention. Your prayers will have an impact, and God is listening.
2. Focus Your Attention
When you want to pray, but don’t because you feel like you’d flounder or look silly, you have made yourself the focus. You can be relieved though because this is about them, not you. Focusing on them was your intention all along anyway. Pray for them. God is listening.
Pray about it. Ask God to help you become a person who prays in the moment. Ask Him to help you be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and then ask for boldness for those moments. You can pray this now and then again silently just before praying out loud with the one who needs it. God is listening.
4. Listen to the Holy Spirit
You’ve felt the nudge and questioned it. Trust that it was likely a holy nudge. Trust in advance that the Holy Spirit will not lead you wrong. Lean in so you can hear the prompting to pray. God is listening.
5. Let Go of the Desire to Impress
In these moments of pain, your friend doesn’t need to be impressed by your eloquent prayer skills, deep faith, or great ability to quote scripture. This is not a performance. If you make it one, it will become less meaningful for both of you. Pray as you are. God is listening.
6. Admit It
Tell your friend that you have resolved to pray on the spot but are often too timid to do so. They have been vulnerable, so you can as well. Pray for them. God is listening.
How many times have you told someone you would pray and then failed to do so? And how many times have you wanted to pray in the moment and chickened out? If you are like me, the answer is far too many times. From this point forward, let’s resolve to be people who pray on the spot, on nature trails, in the hallway at church, on the phone, or in the yard between our house and the neighbors.
Prayers are always a gift. This act of praying on the spot is also the gift of your full attention, which is so rare. Praying for someone is a beautiful way to serve them and be present with them in their hurt.
It is an honor and a joy to help point someone to the Lord, so let’s no longer miss it. Our prayers matter. It is not a small thing to do for someone, it’s our most powerful way we can intervene on their behalf. And God is listening.
I still can’t shake the memory of that holy huddle out on the trails. Our pastor friend could have listened, expressed care, and promised to pray. If he had, we’d have left that encounter with admiration and respect for him still. But he didn’t. He stopped to pray and with his prayer, he was our voice, when we had lost ours.
So, friends. When the Holy Spirit encourages us to pray, let us pray. God is listening.
Rebecca Radicchi, her husband and crew of kids, live outside Atlanta, where the summers are hot and the tea is sweet. She’s ridden the waves of adoption, breast cancer, and being the mom of kids with complex medical needs. And, through it all, she’s seen that abundance can be found in the uncomfortable hard and in the easy beautiful. She’s also discovered that whether she’s passing bread at the kitchen table, clock-watching in a hospital waiting room, or listening to a neighbor on a porch swing, God always has something to say. It’s a wonder really. She encourages others to listen for it too on her website and Instagram, and also connects with adoptive families at No Hands But Ours.