Posted by: celticanglican | July 31, 2017

The Ups and Downs of Prayer Partners

Many prayer requests deal with very serious and often heartbreaking issues – cancer, serious injuries with a life and death struggle, divorce and other family issues. Sometimes, some of the difficulties you encounter come off the keyboards or touchscreens of your fellow prayer partners. However, there is a light side – you just have to find a reason to smile or laugh when you wonder why you even bothered embarking on being a prayer partner.

Here are a few of the “difficult” fellow prayer partners you may encounter and how to deal:

The Culture Warrior

You send them an email showing support when they request prayer – and so it begins. A simple email saying you’re praying without a single remark about your religious background or politics turns into a succession of forwards from religiously-oriented PACs televangelists, and local religious leaders. The problem: It’s just plain rude to try to recruit someone you hardly know into a cause they may not support, but unfortunately too many see it as their “religious duty” to do so. The solution: Nicely but firmly tell them prayer requests are always welcome, but that you don’t support their cause and prefer not to receive political emails. If they don’t take heed but you still want to be able to receive their prayer requests, consider just deleting the offending emails or making use of your provider’s email filtering options (one of my Gmail accounts has an interesting assortment of filters, to say the least).

The Nit-Picker

This is a type of “prayer partner” I encountered once and hope I never do again. This person invited people who were forwarded their devotionals to send in prayer requests, then complained about the contents of the requests. A prayer request regarding an imprisoned Chinese pastor was dismissed as irrelevant because the arrest had happened a few years prior, and another request was picked apart literally bit by bit with complaints, including summarizing which of their needs they would pray for and which they wouldn’t. Really? The problem: Who needs any of that? The solution: Some people maybe just don’t need to be part of your prayer circle, and this person could be one of them.

The King (or Queen) of TMI

In many cases, less is more, and this includes prayer requests. I’ve encountered everything from requests that blurt out home addresses and phone numbers to someone that felt the need to share that a friend who blacked out lost control of their bodily functions during the fainting spell. (You really can’t make this stuff up!) If the friend read the copy of that request that was sent to hundreds of other people, I’m sure he quickly became an ex-friend. The problem: Praying for someone doesn’t have to include violating their privacy, sharing personal info that could put their safety at risk, or sharing embarassing details about bodily functions, sexual issues or the like – it’s sad that it’s come to having to tell adults not to blab about certain things. The solution: If prayer partners can submit requests to a site where they are posted publicly, use moderating tools so you have to approve the request before it appears, and have a policy against allowing personal info or too many details that are best kept private.

The Info Seeker

People have any number of reasons for submitting prayer requests that are “unspoken” or general healing, financial, etc. needs and these reasons are usually privacy-related or because the actual circumstances are fairly complex, making a more generalized request better suited. I once encountered a prayer partner from a self-described deliverance ministry who said they didn’t accept unspoken needs because they HAD to know the circumstances – whatever happened to God knows the situation? (Interestingly enough, I later encountered someone who had exited their ministry after feeling judged after sharing about her divorce). The problem: God already knows our needs before we ask, and invidual prayer customs can and should accommodate prayers that don’t come accompanied with a multi-page bio. The solution: Some people are inclined to snoop and meddle, asking too much info from prayer requests is unfortunately one way to do that and possibly pray in manipulative ways. Consider seeing their prayer list if published online – ministries that just use a person’s name and a brief blurb or line detailing the basic need have a good perspective, IMO.

What are some of the difficulties, if any, you’ve encountered in prayer ministry involvement?

 

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