Praying for people is an important aspect of ministry. It allows us the ability to bring God’s presence into a conversation and/or situation and by extension, into the lives of those involved. Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to pray with different Gambian people here in New York City. Most of these prayers have been received well from one degree to another, even though they have been a bit awkward at times. Either because of my ‘newness' to Islamic customs and beliefs or because of my inexperience in general, I have, on occasion, not chosen my words as well as I would have liked.
For example, on one occasion I addressed God as ‘Father,’ which if you know anything about Islamic belief, there is the basic understanding that God cannot be a Father. On another occasion, there was nothing actually ‘wrong’ with the prayer, but afterwards, I thought of simpler ways that I could have said things that would have made my prayer clearer and easier to understand. But thankfully, as I have mentioned, these have been received well in spite of my shortcomings.
Additionally, on other occasions, we have been presented with situations and people who were in a form of crisis or need where we have been able to appeal to God’s strength and help for their time of difficulty. By doing so, prayer has become a teaching tool, bringing attention to the loving, compassionate nature of God. If we keep our eyes open we can find times to pray with people in various ‘life-moments’ whether common, unexpected or difficult.
When people hear a prayer to God that is given personally, on their behalf, a new world can begin to open up for them. Praying for people shows that you care about them and unveils the possibility that God, also, has compassion for them and wants to be involved in their lives. This is the beauty of prayer in ministry because through it we give a glimpse of a defining, precious truth; that God does care.
As God’s people, our prayers express the hope to which we are called. This hope is possible and is activated at the name of Jesus. It is a sure hope that draws us and propels us forward and which confidently awaits God’s attention and regard, for us and for those with whom we speak.