Thursday, July 20, 2006

Everything I Know about Prayer, continued

Discretion in Prayer
As you begin to pray under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God will begin to show you how to pray and things to pray about. When people realize you are an intercessor (someone who prays for other people), they’ll begin to share their prayer requests with you. These things you need to keep to yourself, for several reasons.
First of all, you want to spend your energy praying, not talking with others. I think we’ve all been to “prayer” meetings when the entire time was taken sharing requests and no time was left in the end for the actual prayer. We can exhaust ourselves talking to others, and feel like we’ve accomplished something; but actually the only thing we’ve done is exhaust ourselves.
Another reason is that, whether it is from God or another person, you’ve been entrusted with that information and you’ll want to show yourself worthy of that trust.
I’ve found that the best way to keep a confidence is to never let others know there is a confidence being kept. If you have a prayer partner, don’t go around telling folks who it is. If you have gotten a prayer request, don’t tell anyone there’s a request to be investigated. This will save you a lot of evasive, or not so evasive, answers and eliminate the temptation to say more that you should.
Several years ago, I got an email by accident. It was a communication sent from one of our top mission leaders telling a friend of his upcoming resignation. By the time I figured out it was not intended for me, I knew the content. I knew that God had caused that to happen so that I could pray for that family during that transition. I also knew I could never tell anyone I had gotten that email. Fortunately, I was deep in backwoods Brazil at the time and so the temptation to blab was not as great as if I’d had colleagues around me.
A final reason to keep things to yourself applies to those things you’ve heard from God—you may have heard wrong. We never know if we’ve heard accurately from God until things do, or don’t, happen as we heard. Sometimes we never know for sure.
If you feel like God has shown you something, you’ll never go wrong by talking to Him about it. You may go very wrong if you talk to others. Just think of the trouble Joseph would’ve saved himself if he’d kept his mouth shut about his dreams (Genesis 37:5).
So, these are my “stream of consciousness” ramblings about prayer. I apologize if I’ve been too elementary for those of you who are seasoned intercessors.
I’ll make one more “Everything I know” post on Fasting and then head back to more missions specific topics.

1 comment:

J. Guy Muse said...

Some very wise prayer comments. Thanks for sharing. We would all do well to follow your advise!