Written By: Hilary Cobb
Recently, a good friend of mine was going through something difficult. He is one of those Christians that is always just praying, loving and helping others. Yet, as he asked for prayer on Facebook, he prefaced his request with, “I hate asking for prayer, but…”
Of course, our friends were more than happy to pray for him and encourage him! He has done so much for others, so many people viewed it as a wonderful way to support him and give back.
It struck me though. How often do we feel that way? We are often eager to pray for others, but when it’s our turn, it can be so uncomfortable asking for prayer.
I am blessed to be part of a vibrant, praying church. We have prayer groups that meet throughout the week and an awesome prayer chain through email. When my dad had health issues several years ago, it was lovely to ask for prayer from those in my church and know that they were praying.
But when I had anxiety issues several years ago, I had asked for prayer from a few people. Somehow, an email got sent out to our prayer chain asking for prayer for me. And I was completely mortified. Of course, people were encouraging and prayed for me, but it still felt so much more awkward asking for myself than when I asking people to pray for my dad!
So why is it so difficult for ask for prayer? I believe there are several reasons.
- It’s difficult to be vulnerable. I’ve been so blessed to be part of a church that values authenticity. One of our core values is, “It’s okay to not be okay, it’s just not okay to stay that way.” It promotes being open and honest about our struggles, then seeking support to move forward and strengthen our walk with the Lord.
And yet, even though I’ve heard that value stated many times, it is still so difficult to admit when I am struggling. There’s a fear for many Christians that if they are struggling to the point of needing prayer, they will be perceived as not “holy enough.” And sadly, I’ve had experiences in the past at other churches where prayer requests were met not with support and love, but with comments about, “you wouldn’t have this problem if you just prayed harder or were a better Christian.”
Even though I’m now in an amazing supportive church, there is still that part of me that worries occasionally that a prayer request will cause people to judge me instead of love me.
- We feel selfish. There are so many terrible things in this world. On a global level, we know there are children starving in Africa, people being murdered in Syria, and Christians being killed for their faith worldwide. On a local level, there is homelessness, child abuse and all of us know someone impacted by cancer. It can feel “selfish” to ask for patience for our children or help with finding a job.
And yet, the Bible tells us, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (Eph. 6:18, NLT). The Bible doesn’t say, “Pray only for people who are really struggling.” It doesn’t tell us to only “pray for believers with illness and persecution.” It tells us to pray for all believers everywhere on every occasion.
So, while it is crucial to pray fervently for those who are sick, persecuted and broken, I think it’s also okay to pray fervently for your neighbor who’s wrestling with loneliness, or the new mother who is lonely and overwhelmed. And if we are called to pray for all believers everywhere, do not feel selfish asking for prayer from those who love you.
- We don’t want to be a burden. We know that this we are a culture drowning in busyness. I know that at any given point, most of my friends are busy working, chasing children, cleaning, helping with church, serving their community or decompressing from all of those things. It can sometimes feel like asking them for prayer will be yet another task for them to do that day.
We have to get away from that mindset. The Bible tells us to pray all throughout the Scriptures. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tell us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I love that prayer is sandwiched right between rejoicing and gratitude. A prayer request from someone should never be viewed as a to-do list task right between folding laundry and cleaning the cat box. It should be viewed as just another joyful part of our lives as we follow Christ, not as a burden.
The next time you are struggling and you ask for prayer, please don’t beat yourself up with that feeling that others will view you poorly, that you are being selfish or that you are being a burden. Prayer is one of the most amazing “tools” we have as Christians. Let us pray for others and allow them to pray for us. It will only strengthen our relationships with God and with each other!
Hilary Cobb is a born-and-raised California-girl who now lives in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She lives with her amazing husband of 12 years and their two beautiful (but crazy-makin’) children. Hilary received her master’s degree in social work in 2008 and works as a therapist part-time, doing counseling with children, adults and couples. She is also the Family Ministries Director for her church, speaks at events and schools, and writes for her blog:www.blessedbyhislove.com. When she has some downtime, she loves coffee, running and crochet! Her life verse is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” and she is grateful that God has allowed her to serve Him throughout her life.