Don’t ever be timid about telling a friend you are praying for them. Your prayer may be just the lifeline they need to keep going.
Years ago, I taught a workshop at a Women’s Day program at the Cincinnati Christian University on bread baking. It’s the class where I talk about using your talents to minister to others. A still warm loaf of homemade bread is a great tool to express warmth, love, and caring to church visitors, shut-in senior saints, and church family who are going through rough moments.
As I pushed and turned my lump of dough in the kneading process in front of my class, I idly remarked, “Some people think I work out my emotional frustrations while I knead bread. Actually, I use it as a time to pray for the person for whom I’m making the bread.” That comment was not even in my notes. It was one of those impulsive, spit out of my mouth, fill-the-silen-spot, trying to be light and cute comments. My comment was a good idea, but I can’t take credit. I thought later, “Where did that come from?”
I never dreamed someone would take me seriously.
Kathy, who didn’t even know me at the time, started making homemade bread. In the ensuing yearts, Kathy and I both started to do contracted work for the Standard Publishing Company. Kathy was often the out-of-house proofreader for many of the articles and curriculum that I wrote. Throughout the years, every once in awhile, I would get a note from Kathy or I would see her at a conference. She would tell me, “I made bread today. And I prayed for you.” Or, “I made cinnamon rolls for John’s office today. I remembered to pray for you.”
Jack celebrates his thirty years in ministry at the end of this month and I admit there were times we wondered if we could hang in there long enough. Ministry has not always been easy for our family. Kathy and I were never close enough that she would know what was happening in our lives or ministry. But she knew enough to pray.
As I shared some time back, my husband is now facing several medical issues.
Two surgeries will book-end our daughter’s wedding. We wonder if Jack has the strength to drive to the wedding, much less officiate like he wants to do. With much angst, I finally made the decision to leave him by himself for three days to attend our church’s annual missions’ conference (ICOM). One of the first people I saw on the exhibit hall was Kathy and her husband John. They left their booth to throw their arms around me.
“I haven’t made bread lately,” Kathy said. “But I made cookies this week and I prayed for you and Jack while I mixed cookie dough.” They stood in the aisle, their arms around me, asking those questions that only good friends get away with asking. Touched in that deep spot that knows how to communicate gratitude only through unbidden teardrops, I knew then why I had come to ICOM. God knew I needed the encouragement and reminder of prayer from good friends.
I’d been suffering from severe heartburn and tummy troubles for several weeks up to this point, mostly likely from the stress and anxiety over Jack’s illnesses. When I came home from ICOM, I suddenly realized – all my heartburn symptoms were gone! I have to think that the encouragement from knowing someone was praying for us and that loving friends cared about what my husband and I were going through lifted the emotional burden I was carrying.
We’d all agree that prayer is powerful.
The prayers of a righteous man has great power in its effect, says James 5:16. Yet somehow, we’re timid to tell people we’re praying for them. Maybe we don’t want to sound super-spiritual, self-righteous, or that we’re this holy person that goes around praying for everyone.
Oh please don’t feel that way. Telling people you are praying for them has as much emotional impact as saying, “I love you.” In fact, praying for someone is an expression of love and grace. It’s basically saying, “I care about you so much, I’m taking your need to the One I know can do something about it.”
Stressful moments are lonely moments. A reminder of someone’s prayer reconnects us with other believers and with God. It’s a spiritual lifeline that shouts, “Hold on! We’re in this with you. We care and God cares too.”
“We’re better together”
We kept hearing that phrase at ICOM. It is so true! My husband and I could not do thirty years of ministry without loving, caring people like John and Kathy and so many others. Ministry, missions, outreach, marriage, family, servant hearted leadership – all of it doesn’t happen without the framework of a team. That includes the prayers of those on the sidelines. We all need prayer. We all need each other’s prayers.
I feel so much more confident about the next three weeks. Kathy’s prayers reminded me of the God I can depend on to pull me through. He will provide our strength, protect us from harm, and empower us to proclaim His glory to all we meet. Best of all, Kathy’s prayers — and yours and my prayers too — rise as a sweet aroma before the Father, Revelations 8:3,4. Praying while you knead bread gives a whole new layer of meaning to these wonderful verses. I wonder if God gets a whiff of freshly baked cinnamon rolls when Kathy prays for her friends?