Listening to her prayer request left me shocked. I did not expect to hear that. Especially from a woman fighting for her life. What kind of prayer request was that?
“Please, can you pray that I may receive the Holy Spirit,” she mumbled in a piercing hiss as she fought for breath. But that wasn’t all. “I want the Holy Spirit to guide me,” added Buhle (not her real name).
I sat quietly as I watched Buhle’s young sister helping her to sit. Buhle didn’t have to be on her knees. Because I could have prayed for her as she rested comfortably on her couch. Praying was not a problem; the problem was her prayer request.
At only 19, I was a home group leader. Being a lay leader was exhausting and encouraging. I prayed for the sick, encouraged and modeled personal evangelism, and tried to cultivate a culture of regular Bible study. I enjoyed it – a lot.
Watching Buhle succumbing to pain brought back old memories. Three years back, I watched my mother dying. But when my mother died, I did not know about James 5:14-15.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Anyway, I honored Buhle’s prayer request. And I remembered Paul’s prayer to church in Ephesus (Ephesians 1:17). Therefore, I prayed ‘that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory’ give Buhle ‘the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.’
Why Do We Make A Prayer Request?
Anyone who grew up in rural areas understands protocol. If you had a concern you approached the chief accompanied by an elder. Because going alone was a sign of disrespect as it meant you believe you have enough honor to be in the presence of the chief.
At the chief’s throne, all requests were made through the elder. And the elder would pass on the requests to the royal subjects. Hence the saying, kukwira gomo hupoterera – you climb a mountain in circles.
Coming to Christ, I had the same view when it came to prayer. As a result, I believed God only answered prayers made by honorable people – powerful men of God. Of course, I prayed often but I depended most on the prayer requests I sent.
But I believed you ask for a prayer request when you consider yourself inadequate to kneel before God. Therefore, I occasionally sent a prayer request to people I consider righteous and full of the Spirit.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
So, why should we request a prayer from other believers? Here are some examples of Paul’s prayer requests:
- God’s help in preaching the Gospel
- That poverty stricken Jewish Christians accept a gift from non-Jews
- Help from people that opposed the Gospel
- Release from prison
- Guidance in visiting other believers
Question. Have you ever sent a prayer request that looks like these? I haven’t. God help me.
What is a Good Prayer Request?
You don’t send a prayer request to someone because of their presumed hierarchy in the divine order. Therefore, you don’t have to make a prayer request with Magaya, Bushiri, Pastor Chris or TB Joshua. Neither do you need to send a prayer request to Vatican, Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Fatima or St Raphael.
A prayer request is an invitation to participate in the divine nature. Paul wanted the Christians to take part in the work of ministry God so he sent out prayer requests to various churches.
Consider Paul’s prayer in 2nd Thessalonians:
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
This is the prayer that Buhle wanted. And a week later she was no more. I believe that is the same prayer that you and I need, always. But does that mean we should stop sending prayer requests for a job, healing, cancer, marriage, money or a fruit of the womb?
I don’t think so. But I have noticed I often send a prayer request what I need someone to talk to. When I say pray for my finances, I mean I need help. Pray for my health means please walk with me. And pray that God gives me direction means I can’t get hold of myself.
What do you actually need when you send a prayer request?