Do you pray for the “everyday people” you encounter in life?
Is it a routine activity for you? Are you convinced that even your briefest, simplest prayers have impact?
It is easy to get so caught up in the normal activities of life that we may not even truly notice the people around us. Moving at our rapid pace, we breeze past the persons who are right beside us, ignoring subtle promptings from The LORD to lift them up.
We can’t pray for everyone. But on a regular basis, at the direction of the Holy Spirit, we can make sure to take note of people — praying for those we encounter.
A Simple Act
At a grocery store where I occasionally shop, there is a congenial, cordial cashier named Bernice.
I would guess she is probably in her early sixties — someone who is calm and kind to all she meets.
Bernice seems to be a “settled person” in every way. In fact, she carries a tranquility and gentleness that may come from having Jesus in her life.
When I am in that store, I make a point to use her check-out lane — simply to enjoy the peaceful kindness she exudes.
Today, however, when I greeted Bernice and asked how she was doing, her response was a shoulder shrug and this reply: “So, so.”
As I left her area and walked toward the exit, I lifted her up by name with a simple prayer: “Lord, please bless Bernice today.”
As sometimes happens, I immediately sensed The LORD speaking back to me — not in a condemning way, but with a tone of helpful conviction: “You could have prayed for Bernice at other times before this.”
I took it as a clear reminder from The LORD: praying for the people around us makes a difference.
As I reflected on what The LORD had impressed upon me, The Bible passage that came to mind was James 5:16b: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
This is one of those passages where the term man is used as a general designation for all believers. In fact, my personal opinion is that this kind of caring prayer actually emanates more naturally from women than from men.
More often than not, our dear sisters are the ones who intercede consistently for the “Bernices” around them.
Other translations of this verse reflect the wider application I have just pointed out. NIV says: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
NLT says: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Christian Standard says: “The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”
These translations all make the same point. When you and I are faithful to pray for those around us, it makes a big difference. A lot happens when we pray for “Bernice.”
A Sobering Thought
As I was looking at other references connected with the passage from James, I came upon an incident from Samuel’s life that caused me to sit up and take notice.
In this story from 1 Samuel, chapters 8 through 12, the people of Israel made a very bad decision.
They placed this unwise request before Samuel: “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (8:5). It was the wrong move entirely — an affront to Samuel and to God.
When Samuel protested to The LORD about what the Israelites had requested, God surprisingly allowed it. He reminded Samuel that their unwise choice signified Israel’s rejection of His sovereign rule over their nation.
Later, when the people realized the egregious error of their ways, they came to Samuel, begging him to intercede so they wouldn’t die as a result.
He spoke these honest but tender words of exhortation and comfort to them: “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following The LORD, but serve The LORD with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:20).
Then, in verse 23, Samuel added: “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against The LORD in ceasing to pray for you.”
There’s a chilling thought.
Our failure to pray for the people around us — even those who are on a wrong path or who have made terrible mistakes in life — could be considered a sin against The LORD. A strong encouragement for praying for “Bernice.”
A Natural Practice
In a helpful, practical teaching called “Continually Led by the Holy Spirit,” Derek Prince shares the simplicity of this practice of spontaneous, natural prayer.
“In Song of Solomon, the Shulamite character who represents the Bride of Christ says, “I sleep, but my heart is awake” (5:2). Your mind may be asleep; your soul may be asleep; but your spirit has a prayer meeting going on all the time.
I have lived with people like that. I know it’s real. Lydia, my first wife was like that. She was a walking prayer meeting. She didn’t have to get religious to pray. She could be changing a baby’s napkin [diaper] and be praying. It didn’t make any difference to her.
When Lydia was bringing up the children in Jerusalem, they would play “horses” on her back while she was praying. That didn’t make any difference to her. She could reach out and stir the soup and be praying.
We can live a life of prayer. We don’t have to be in some religious attitude. We don’t have to use a lot of strange formulas. It’s much more natural than that. It’s supernaturally natural.”
A Firm Declaration
Here is one practical encouragement from what Derek has just shared: it would be a daunting, impossible task to pray for everyone we encounter in life.
However, if we regard it as a Spirit-led activity — responding naturally to His prompting — all that is required is our willingness and openness to the possibility.
May I ask you to join with me in the following prayer? Let’s express our desire to be used in praying for “Bernice.”
Dear LORD Jesus, I realize now that I can have a much greater impact through my prayers than I might expect.
I can ask You at any given moment to touch those around me with Your Love. I’m sorry for neglecting this area.
I confess to walking past thousands of people without acknowledging or recognizing them as persons for whom You care.
Not only did I forget to pray for them; I didn’t even take note of them. For this, I ask Your forgiveness.
With this prayer, I want to commit myself to be more attentive. Help me, Lord Jesus, to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, “This one” or “That one” as I interact with people in my normal routines of life. It humbles me to know that I have the power to bring these people before Your very throne with a simple prayer.
I commit myself to do so, in Your Name. Amen.
A Heritage of Spontaneous Prayer
I trust that the commitment you and I have just voiced has not been driven in any way by guilt or pressure.
May I also encourage you to follow through with this prayer in the most practical way possible? Not a compulsive activity, but a natural flow. As The LORD leads us, we simply pray, “Lord, bless that person. Show him or her Your Love.”
I knew Derek Prince as a man who prayed for people in this way. Even more, as you can see from the quote by Derek about his first wife, Lydia, it is a flowing, Spirit-led experience that is possible for each of us.
In any setting, Lydia would pray for the people God was bringing to her mind. She had no reservations about calling a halt to other activities to intercede for someone on the spot.
That is the wonderful heritage we share as partakers of this ministry — and we want to provide further teaching to encourage you, starting with a free MP3 of Derek’s message, “Continually Led by the Holy Spirit.”
It is our way of thanking you again for your partnership in praying and giving.
The Blessings of Obedience
What I have shared in this letter is certainly not rocket science. Like so many other principles of the Kingdom of God, it is profound in its simplicity.
Here it is again: when God brings us into contact with someone, we pray for them. What could be more basic?
This pursuit, however, carries another far-reaching element: it works! It causes a positive impact to take place.
We can rely upon the promise of God as a confirmation of this truth. As the words of James 5:16b in the New Living translation attest: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
But that’s not the end of it. As with other acts of obedience on our part, God punctuates our willingness with His blessing and His peace.
When we obey Him in this simple pursuit, we discover and experience for ourselves the sense of rightness and affirmation that goes with this activity — warming us and encouraging us.
Simplicity; results; a palpable sense of blessing from The LORD? Those are at least three good reasons to practice what this letter talks about: praying for “Bernice.”
All the best,
P.S. Once again, we send you our love and thanks for your partnership with us. We deeply appreciate your prayers and your gifts. Please don’t forget to download week one of “How to Be Led by the Holy Spirit.” We know it will encourage you.
Materials used by kind permission of Derek Prince Ministries.