How To Pray For A Family Member Or Friend
By Wesley L. Duewel
When God desires to transform the spiritual condition of a person from sin to salvation, or from self-centered living to obedient living, He may call on you to carry a special prayer burden which may require more intensive prayer. This person may be someone close to you such as a relative or a friend. How should you pray for such individuals? The following are suggestions which may be used for prolonged prayer or adapted to periods of shorter intercession:
1. Begin by focusing on God Himself. (a) Thank God for His good will toward all people; His love for the world. (b) Thank God for His intensely personal love for this person. (c) Thank God for His plan for the life of this person. (d) Thank God that Jesus’ death on the Cross was intended for this person, too. (e) Thank God for the Holy Spirit’s presence and activities for this one: His eyes constantly beholding him, his work, and his needs (Gen. 16:13; 2 Chr. 16:9; Zech. 4:10; Rev. 5:6); His providence coordinating all that touches the person’s life; His instant availability. (f) Picture Jesus standing by the person with His arms outstretched in love and saying, "Here am I! Here am I!" (Isa. 65:1-2). (g) Picture Jesus’ tears of loving longing for the person (Matt. 23:37). (h) Thank God for the availability of His messenger angels to help bring answers to your prayer (Heb. 1:14).
2. Thank God for this person. Begin praying for the person by thanking God for him. Never yield to the temptation of criticizing the object of your concern. Don’t point out how difficult, how stubborn, how wayward the person is. It is Satan’s role to accuse. He not only accuses our brothers in Christ (Job 1:6-11; 2:1-5; Zech. 3:1; Rev. 12:10), he injects his accusations to intensify interpersonal friction.
Satan will do anything to discourage our prayers for others. If he cannot stop us, he will try to short-circuit our prayer by making us petulant, critical, and negative. Such a spirit hinders our love, destroys our faith, and cancels our spirit of praise. Don’t expect answers to prayers prayed in a spirit of negative criticism. (a) Thank God for this person’s potential, abilities, and skills. (b) Thank God for the good qualities that you can recall. (c) Thank God that you know the Holy Spirit is already at work even though His work may not yet be visible to the eye. (d) Thank God for the answer you believe will come in God’s own timing.
3. Intercede for the person. (a) Ask God to guide you in praying for this person and to increase your concern. (b) Ask God to block and frustrate Satan’s plans against the person. (c) Ask God to bless the person and to manifest His goodness in such ways that there can be no doubt that it is God’s goodness and not coincidence or chance. (d) Ask God to strengthen every good personality trait, every good desire, and every right decision of the person. (e) Ask God to make the person open and receptive to God’s voice and sensitive to his own personal sin and need. (f) Ask God to release the person from any prejudice, to break any chain of sin, evil habit, or satanic power with which Satan may have bound him. (g) Ask God to surround the person with His holy presence, to remind him of God’s many past mercies, to prove His merciful intervention in new and powerful ways, and to melt away all hesitation with His great love. (h) Ask God to use any means He deems best to dissolve any resistance to His Spirit. Ask Him to use any of God’s children, any circumstance in life, or any ministry of His holy angels.
4. Claim God’s promise for salvation or need. (a) Plant your faith firmly on the promises of God which apply to the person for whom you are praying. (b) Keep alert to any other promise which may apply as new situations develop. (c) Ask God to make some special promise come alive to you for this person. While you are reading the Scriptures, the Holy Scriptures, the Holy Spirit may grip your heart by impressing upon you a particular verse or passage. Hold on in prayer and plead that Scripture again and again.
5. Persevere in prayer. (a) Remind God that you love the person and know that His divine love will never cease reaching out. (b) Recognize that some of God’s greatest answers to prayer do not come instantly. The seeming silence of God does not imply that God is inactive. Often it takes time to disentangle a person’s thinking from error, prejudice, or willfulness. He may not be able to recognize God’s voice or fully understand what God is trying to say. Be willing to be as patient as the Holy Spirit. (c) Remember that no prayer you pray is ever lost. Perhaps every time you pray, the Holy Spirit speaks in some new way to the person. (d) Recognize that God’s purposes are usually accomplished within a person’s mind and heart. God may choose to use overt means of intervention – such as blocking a trip, causing cancellation of plans, permitting illness. But whether or not you can discern God’s activity in the life of the person for whom you are praying, you can be sure God is at work. (e) Remember that outward appearances are often the exact opposite of what is happening within. God may be knocking the most loudly at the very time the person puts on a brazen exterior and seems totally unresponsive. God reminded Saul that it was painful to kick against the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Thus Saul, the persecutor, seemed most violently opposed to Christ at the very time the Holy Spirit was goading his conscience with the memory of the radiant face and forgiving prayer of Stephen (Acts 26:14). (f) Believe God in the face of discouraging symptoms and hostile reactions. It is not God’s will that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). (g) God may lead you to enlist the prayer of others. This must always be done with the assurance of God’s guidance and with subtlety and discretion. You want to unite in prayer to bring power and blessing, not to offend. (h) God may lead you to tell the person that you are remembering him or her in loving prayer. Even if that person does not show appreciation at the time, God may bring to his memory your patient and persistent intercession. (i) When God has confirmed to your heart a specific prayer assignment, expect God’s answer at any time. When a person has been covered and saturated with much prayer for a protracted period of time, it may be that the final yielding to the Lord will come quite suddenly. God does not call you to pray in vain. Pray, believe, and praise till the answer comes.
Sometimes those for whom we pray may appear to be spiritually unresponsive for years after we have made them an object of our prayers. At such times it is natural to wonder why our praying seems so ineffective. Do not be discouraged. God may be accomplishing far more than you realize.
– Quoted from the book, Touch The World Through Prayer by Wesley L. Duewel. Copyright © 1986 by Wesley L. Duewel. Used by permission of the Duewel Literature Trust, Inc., Greenwood, Indiana. Dr. Duewel’s books may be purchased by calling (317) 881-6755, ext. 361.