As I attended a church service packed wall to wall that would make any Fire Marshall uncomfortable (this is a good thing), I looked around and marveled at how many people had come to one place at one time for one reason.
The reason for the cramped quarters was because the youth of the church had returned from a week-long camp. All their family and friends who attended the service dedicated to them fed off their energy. It was truly an amazing sight for these eyes. Unlike many others who worry about the future of this generation, I do not. I think it’s in good hands.
During the service, something our Lead Pastor, Phil Wilson, said caught my attention. Truth tends to do that. He said, “There’s a difference between praying with someone and for someone.”
This was directed to the youth in order to prompt active prayer with someone rather than always the usual private or internal prayer for someone. If you pray for someone, they may never know about it. If they don’t know about it, an opportunity to witness or change their life can be minimized. How would they then be a part of it? How will they feel special because someone reached out and cared? Don’t minimize the power you have to impact others.
Upon personal reflection, I know so well the power of both one-on-one and group prayer. Praying with someone does several things:
- It shows them two people care and they are loved: you and God. By loving someone enough to pray with them, this is one of the most intimate things you can do with another. It’s not physical, it’s spiritual.
- It opens up the prospect of a deeper relationship. Praying with someone builds a trust that’s just not the same as with conversation. There’s an intimacy that comes with prayer because you are speaking into a person’s heart, soul, and spirit. You are reaching things that are guarded. Prayer breaks down the toughest of walls.
- There’s Christ in community and community in Christ. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Praying together is a powerful thing. To have an audience consisting of Jesus is a big deal. Our faith in not built on solitude. When we break bread together and join in prayer, we are coming together in unison for a common cause. There is strength in numbers. The triple braided cord is stronger than a single cord.
When praying with others, I have had the wonderful opportunity to simply share my heart and touch theirs. This is not done for any kind of recognition, credit, or any other selfish or impure motive. There’s no such thing as “heaven points” that are to be gained through this. The reward is knowing you have done what you are called to do. Faith is an active thing. To hear someone tell you through tears that no one has ever prayed with them before or the hug that comes afterwards because of the overwhelming feeling of a warm heart and cleansed soul is reward enough.
Encouraging our youth to do this builds a strong foundation for not only our future church leaders, but our future faith leaders. Hearing stories of my teenage daughter praying with her friends or helping those with real issues such as cutting and suicidal tendencies brings tears. This generation does care. They need our guidance and leadership now so they can have the confidence to be who they were made to be through Christ.
Prayer is a means of connection. Be fearless in your faith and bold in your prayers. Many find it hard enough to pray alone, much less do it with someone else. If you are in this category, that’s okay. Ask someone who you know will pray with you to do so. Don’t wait. If you don’t ask, you will never know the warmth that comes with the Spirit washing over you.