By Jaci Pellham
When we pray for other people, we bless them. However, there’s a cultural phenomenon where blessings become curses! Have you ever heard group prayer requests turn into a gossip session? Maybe you’ve heard someone condescendingly smile and say, “Oh, bless her heart.” We’re supposed to love each other the way God loves us, but that doesn’t always happen.
Why We Should Pray for Others
We are called to pray for other people, especially the Church. We all desperately NEED prayer.
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” –Ephesians 6:18
Prayer is the best good you could do for someone – more than giving advice, more than getting involved. If you want to be a loving friend, make their burdens your burdens and labor in intercession before the Lord.
Our prayers and petitions to God lead to healing and restoration.
James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
Prayer should not be half-hearted. It is not meant to be a shallow experience. Our hearts should overflow with so much love for each other, that it manifests in heartfelt prayers and blessings for the people we encounter.
Why is Gossip Sinful?
Gossip is so harmful. When describing the wickedness of mankind, Paul lists gossipers and slanders next to murderers and God-haters (Romans 1:29-30).
Gossip is not a trivial sin because many people struggle with it – it is powerful and selfish and manipulative. In prayer, we lift people up and pray blessings over them; when we gossip, we are trying to gain favor and advance ourselves.
How to Honor Others in Prayer
Take out identifiers: replace names with relative, classmate, peer, friend, etc., especially when the person you’re praying with knows the person you are praying for.
Instead of, “Yeah, pray for Cindy… she’s sleeping with Michael again,” maybe try something more like, “One of my friends is struggling with sexual sin; will you join me in praying for breakthrough?”
Check your intentions: ask yourself why you are sharing a prayer request. Do you want above all to see the Lord move in her life?
The goal of prayer requests is not for more people to know about someone else’s sin. God already knows all the details of the situation.
“If we’re not genuinely brokenhearted about the sin, pain, and brokenness of others, then our attitude and intentions are not in the right place.” –Jared Clayton
As women, our words have the power to be destructive or beneficial to others . Let’s be women of encouragement, fidelity, selflessness, unity, and hope!
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”