Do you know how to effectively pray for someone who is suffering?
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada, and I am so very grateful for Christian friends who prayed for me when I was first injured and facing a life of paralysis. Oh, my goodness! Many of these friends are still praying for me today, more than 50 years later. They know I need prayer for my chronic pain, and oh, are their prayers effective. They’re powerful. I could not make it without their intercessions. Now, you may think that’s odd because, what, 50 years after my accident I’m still paralyzed. And my pain, in many respects, is getting worse. So how can I say that their prayers are powerful and effective? Like, what’s that all about?
Well, let me explain. Over the years, these Christian friends have employed Scriptures in their prayers for me. And when it comes to Scripture, God makes it clear: he is so much more interested in our character than in our comfort. He’s more interested in the enrichment of our soul than in relieving us of our suffering. My praying friends understand this; it’s how they pray for me and how I, in turn, pray for others in physical pain or dealing with disappointments. I’ll pray James chapter 1; I’ll say something like: “Lord Jesus, your Word tells us to welcome trials, so please help my hurting friend to embrace you in her hardship; right now, would you grant her perseverance? Would you mature her faith? Make her whole; make her complete.” Now that is praying directly from the book of James. Or you could use Psalm 62:8, like “trust in the Lord at all times,” okay? If you use that Scripture in prayer, you might say, “Lord God, you tell us to trust you at all times, and my friend is struggling to do that. So open her eyes to the beauties of your enabling grace, and help her to see that you are trustworthy, even in this difficult situation.”
Do you see what I mean? This kind of praying cultivates courage; it enlarges one’s faith; it matures people; it makes them more like Jesus. Calling on the God of endurance as you pray is a way of calling forth endurance in your hurting friend. Just don’t pray that the cancer will go away, or that finances will miraculously appear, or that your friend will get a job or find a spouse. These things are fine, but God is after something deeper when you pray Scripture over a person who’s suffering. God uses that prayer to impart his courage and strength, grace and endurance, perseverance, patience, longsuffering and so much more. In fact, these are virtues God built in my own life through the effective and powerful prayers of my friends.
And you can do the same. When you hear that a friend is suffering, it can be easy to say, “I’m praying for you,” but it’s harder to know what to actually pray. Well, my friend Nancy Guthrie has written an excellent book called “I’m Praying for You: 40 Days of Praying the Bible for Someone Who is Suffering.” In this book, Nancy shows how the Bible provides us with a vocabulary for intercession that will equip you to ask God to achieve what he intends in and through suffering. Nancy shows you how God’s purposes are revealed in your darkest days and encourages you to pray his will to be done in very difficult situations. And I want you to pray this way for your friends who suffer, so visit joniradio.org so I can give you Nancy’s new book. It’s a gift for you at joniradio.org. Join me in praying the Bible over your friends who are really struggling. Ask for “I’m Praying for You” at joniradio.org.
Are you feeling a storm raging in your life? Joni takes you not out of the storm you feel you are in, but straight into the eye. Because there in the center is a calm, quiet place where confidence, strength, and even joy can be found.