Yesterday, my family and a friend enjoyed lunch with Jeff who was home for a couple of weeks from the mission field. Just before the meal was served, I asked the server how I could pray for him. He stopped and said things were going great for him right now. He was grateful we asked and that we promised to pray for him. And I did not fail to pray for him when we bowed to ask God to bless our meal.
Then, at the end of our visit with Jeff, my wife stopped Jeff to ask him the same question: “How can we pray for you?” She often leads her eighth grade homeroom to pray for missionaries by name, and Jeff is one of them. We and her class will remember him and his specific requests. Since we get regular e-mail newsletter updates from him, we will be able to watch to see how God is answering our prayers.
This same question is needed in our relationships in Sunday School. Here is the issue. Do we care? Do we really care? If we really care, those of us with a relationship with God will want God’s blessings and help for the lives of those for whom we care. We will desire to pray for them and will want our prayers to be specific. We will simply ask, “How can I pray for you?” We will pray, often with the person and then after we depart. And we will check on what happens as a result of our prayers–because we care.
But this is not only true of friends and class members, this should also be true of our interactions with people in our community and life–like our server yesterday. I pray God gives him a great year that is even better than 2008 and that God will continue to make himself known in a clear way. If we ask unconnected people how we can pray for them, they will recognize two things: (1) we believe in prayer and God and (2) we care for them enough to pray. Don’t you think the world needs to know those two things?
But whenever possible, we also need to follow up on our question to find out how God has answered our prayers. This gives us an opportunity to continue the relationship and to give God credit for how He has responded and to pray again for the individual. The difference between “friendliness” and “friendship” is spelled T-I-M-E. Friendship is a desire to continue the encounter into an ongoing relationship.
Give the gift of relationships through the question, “How can I pray for you?” Care enough to ask. Care enough to desire God’s blessings and help. Care enough to pray. Care enough to follow up. It is a small but key question which can deepen Sunday School relationships in class and the community. Pray. Care. Be revolutionary!
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