I was returning from a day at a retreat centre called the Fenland hermitage where I had been with a friend to pray and work on a national project together.
On the train home we spoke with a young business man who, it turned out, had got on the wrong train and had to return back the way he had come! It only dawned on me after we had arrived that he had got on the wrong train for a reason. However, he had gone to get the right train home this time and my friend and I were catching another one… Instead of regretting missing a wasted opportunity I went looking!
I felt compelled that I needed to find this guy and offer to pray for him. So off I searched and when I found him I explained what I had been thinking and how I should have offered to pray for him. The first thing he did was hold out his hand to shake mine and he said ‘thank you.’ I asked him what he needed. He asked me to pray for good luck. He also asked me to pray for money. I said I would do that and he once again shook my hand and thanked me. As I left I encouraged him in his work and said some words that I hoped would build him up and strengthen him.
It got me thinking… When someone asks you to pray for good luck what are they asking for? When someone asks you to pray for the 6 numbers for the lottery on Saturday night what are they saying they want? You see God’s blessing is undeserved resources. Isn’t it? It’s stuff that we lack, given. Despite us. Blessing is lavish, surprising and doesn’t come to anyone of us after we’ve ‘worked’ for it.
So, to bless someone what you are asking God to do is provide all that they need. Most people I meet and ask if I may pray for them reveal a deep need. Why ask for prayer for good luck? Perhaps life has been too tough and they need stuff to change. Why ask for prayer for money or to win the lottery? Perhaps debt is crushing them. Maybe they need supernatural provision… I’m certainly going to ask God for that!
The language people use reveals their deepest need and if someone asks me to pray for good luck, then I’m not going to say ‘there’s no such thing mate… Sort out your theology, luck doesn’t exist.’ What they are asking for is for their fortunes to change and goodness to come.
Incidentally, have you ever heard someone say, ‘I’m not religious’ when you explain something of your faith or offer to pray for them? I have observed time a d time again many Christians like to respond by saying ‘nor am I!’
This seems to really bamboozle people who are expressing that they don’t have a faith or have yet made any sense out of Jesus. When people tell me that they’re not ‘religious’ I explain why I am, in terms of the change that happened in me when I became a follower of Jesus and now have a relationship with him.
So, here’s a challenge: ask someone today if you can pray for them. Ask what they need. Listen to their answer as it may reveal something that they are crying out for which you can graciously pray into.