Now many of you will probably say “well, duh” when you read this, but even though I have been praying for people all of my life, I am evidently a slow learner.
Twice in the last year, I have volunteered to be a prayer partner for someone who is going through a program of faith formation. I have never met these people, don’t know what they look like, who they are, or what their needs or circumstances are. I just have a name.
I found it difficult to do, to pray for somebody that was faceless and unknown to me. My prayers felt short, trite, dry as I cast about for something to say about them to the Lord, some concrete need that I could ask Him for.
Then I had the moment of insight that I needed: just let go. God knows what they need. I don’t need to know.
I realized that I had been trying to control things, to tell God what to do. What’s more: I do that as well in my intercessory prayer for myself, for my family, for my friends and all loved ones. I do it when I pray for “the world” and the Christian refugees in the Middle East–assuming that I know what is best and practically preparing a list for God so that He would know what to do.
None of that is necessary. It is enough to hold each of these dear people for a moment in my heart and mind, lifting them lovingly up to the Lord and asking Him to bless them and fill them with grace.