One of the most loving and powerful things we can do for people is pray for them. James wrote, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) And praying for someone on-the-spot intensifies our love and the power of praying for others in their presence.
I learned how to pray for others on-the-spot from my dad. Whenever someone voiced a concern, a challenge they were facing, a need, or a struggle, my dad would ask, “May I pray for you right now?” And then he would put a hand on their shoulder and pray for them.
Many times, I witnessed how moved and grateful that person was by my dad’s love and concern. Praying on-the-spot is 100 times better than the oft-repeated line, “I’ll be praying for you.”
But in order to practice the skill of praying for others on-the-spot, we need to hone one other skill—that of being a good listener.
When people are sharing with us about their lives, sometimes it’s easy to tune them out, especially if it’s someone who is prone to complaining or simply likes to talk a lot about their issues. But we need to really listen to people—not just to their words, but to the emotions behind them.
Probably in most cases that call for praying on-the-spot, the person talking to us is not asking for prayer. That doesn’t matter. Maybe a parent is distressed about their adult son’s sinful behavior. We can ask, “May I pray for you about your son right now?”
Perhaps a college student is stressed about an upcoming exam. Simply ask, “Would it be okay if I pray for you right now?”
Maybe a grandparent is concerned about a granddaughter with a high fever. Enter into their concern and suggest, “Let’s pray for your little granddaughter right now.”
I cannot stress enough how grateful and even pleasantly shocked people are when you pray for them on the spot! Many individuals with whom I’ve prayed, have tears welling up in their eyes and thank me profusely.
I pass on the practice of praying on the spot to the men I meet with and now they pray with me on-the-spot! Also, in our mixed-gender small group we practice this skill. Instead of praying for all the requests at once where they tend to get bunched together or even forgotten, we pray for requests on-the-spot as they surface.
I challenge you to build this habit into your life. Listen intently to people around you—whether they already know Jesus or not. When your ears perk up with something that warrants praying for, ask them, “May I pray for you right now?” Then, if appropriate, place on hand on their shoulder and pray a short prayer focused on their need.
From now on, seek to pray for others on-the-spot!
©2019 Rob Fischer