In the past I have written about how praying for others is a great way to introduce people to the love of Jesus. Most people may not believe in prayer, but they still think it is a nice gesture. Offering to pray with them shows them that you believe God is real and prayer is effective. To them, it shows that you care and want something good for them. Most of the times it becomes a nice exchange between people, and for those of us who believe in prayer, we give others an opportunity to experience a touch from God.
While this is generally the case, there are times when the other person doesn’t want your prayers. I know I have felt weird at times having someone else pray for me, and I believe in the power of prayer. I tried to think more about those times to help come up with some tips to help you pray for more people. Here are the three reasons people may not want you to pray with them.
1. They think you are preachy.
One of the reasons I have not wanted people to pray for me is because I could tell they wanted to correct me through their prayers. Some people use prayer as a not-so-subtle way to preach. Prayer is suppose to be communication with God and not some weird dialogue to God about how wrong the person you are praying for is. While that is weird enough in our personal prayers, don’t be surprised if that person doesn’t want you to pray those prayer with them.
I remember times confessing sin to friends and them offering to pray with me. The prayer sometimes would turn to Bible verses on how wrong the sin was. I knew it was wrong; that was why I confessed it. The prayer was more trying to correct my sin then a reminder of what God wanted for me. It was hard for me to share anything personal with that person afterwards and also hard for me to ask them for prayer.
2. They think you are creepy.
There are many different ways we can pray, but not everyone is on the same page with you. You may find it effective to pray in the spirit, but if the other person does not have that same background, don’t be surprised if they pull away from you. This is just one expression. You may pray in King James or talk to the Holy Spirit. This is not a statement about what kinds of prayers are effective. You may just need to build some trust before comfortably praying in a way different than what the other person is used to. Some people are event adverse to closing their eyes or just praying in public.
There was a time when I was experiencing terrible back pain. I had a hard time getting off the floor, and I had someone tell me he would pray with me. He started speaking to my back and commanding it to do things. I was already in a lot of pain and didn’t understand what he was doing, so I actually told him to stop. It wasn’t that God could hear his prayer or wouldn’t use it to heal me, but we didn’t have the relationship of trust, and it made me feel weird.
3. They don’t feel safe.
Both of the other reasons can also fall under this one, but I think it is good to keep this in mind. There are many reasons they may not feel safe praying with you, and it may have nothing to do with you. You never want to pressure anyone to receive prayer from you. Make sure they feel they can say no.
Back when my wife and I used to raise financial support, I was asked to speak at a church service. Afterwards several members came to discuss about the mission we were going on, and a couple of them told me how I didn’t preach as well as the mutual friend who set up the engagement. While I was pretty young at the time, I tried not to let it offend me, as they definitely knew the other person better. Still they proceeded to say they were going to pray for me to become better. Right there in front of the church, they started to pray loudly for this. Loudly is relative, but it felt that way. I really don’t know what they prayed for, as I felt shamed, discouraged, and exposed.
Again, their friend may have been a better speaker, and I probably did need to grow in that gifting. All I know is I never wanted to visit that church again.
How Can You Avoid These Things?
My assumption is that none of you would intentionally make anyone else feel this way. But, I also don’t think any of these people who made me feel this way did so intentionally. We are all going to make mistakes along the way, as I suppose I have also fallen into some of these issues.
Still, we can learn and be open to the Jesus’ leading. He wants us to pray for others, and people need our prayers. But, let’s not force it on anyone. Trust the Holy Spirit to do His work and offer hope and belief in others along the way.