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We Don’t (Really) Mean It

We Don’t (Really) Mean It
Psalm 20:1–9
“I’ll pray for you.”
We say it often, but how many times do we actually remember to do it? Our biggest downfall might not be a lack of compassion—it’s probably just not taking time to write down the request and not having a model of praying for others.
Some of us might feel like we’ve mastered the art of the task list, but it can still be difficult to keep up with praying for our friends. It’s easy to think, “God knows their needs, so it’s fine.” But that’s not the New Testament view of prayer: we’re meant to pray always (Luke 18:1; 1 Thess 5:16). And Paul himself regularly asks for prayers. If they weren’t important, he wouldn’t ask (Col 4:3). For this reason, it would be helpful to develop a system to track what people need prayer for, like a prayer journal. But what about the model?
When I pray for God’s will in my life, I’ve found that using the Lord’s Prayer works well when I’m having trouble praying. But I haven’t adopted a model for praying for others. Psalm 20 contains such a model, and the psalmist offers some beautiful words for others:
“May Yahweh answer you in the day of trouble.… May he send you help … May he remember all your offerings … May he give to you your heart’s desire … May we shout for you over your victory” (Psa 20:1–5). And then the psalmist goes on to proclaim God’s goodness and that He will answer (Psa 20:6). And this is the line I think I love the most: “Some boast in chariots, and others in horses, but we boast in the name of Yahweh, our God. They will collapse and fall, and we will rise and stand firm” (Psa 20:7–8).
“They will … fall … and we will rise.” We must pray for our friends with this kind of confidence. And then the greatest challenge of all: we must pray for our enemies as well.
How can you hold yourself accountable to pray for others? How can you use Psa 20 as a model for prayer?
John D. Barry

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