What You May Not Know About Prayer Partners
Have you ever been in so much stress you forget to pray?
When my mental illness flares up, I find it especially hard to pray or to know what to pray. I feel a bit lost and apart from people, even if they are in my own living room.
My mind is easily distracted and I get so lethargic at times that even writing in my cherished prayer journal is hard to do.
I know I need prayer so I ask specific people to pray with and for me. Prayer Partners.
My Experience with Prayer Partners
I believe these partners in prayer have known some of my deepest troubles, and they may not understand exactly what is going on, but they faithfully pray.
My Prayer Partners are usually the first to know what’s going on in my life. I may not be able to figure out what needs praying for, but since they know what’s going on they pray the prayers I don’t
know how to articulate.
My partners in prayer are such close friends that they know what I
need better than I do when my life is deeply enmeshed in the wrong thinking of my mental illness, especially depression.
On the flip side, even when I’m struggling, I can pray for my Prayer Partners and get my focus off of myself.
I find prayer with and for others does two things:
First, it develops a deeper connection to other people.
Second, it develops a deeper connection with God.
One of my prayer partners put it simply: “Prayer partners connect us with each other and with God.”
I think this is what Jesus intended when He told His disciples in Matthew 18:19-20:
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
There are many passages of Scripture that call for corporate prayer, especially in official church settings. The passage above says that there are purposes and occasions for a small group, or even just two people, to be praying together and the prayer is still heard by
My partners in prayer are spread all over my state of Michigan, and all over the country. Usually, it’s only one of them praying with me at a time (via phone, Zoom, etc.), but I share with them all that is going on in my life.
They are all praying throughout the day (or month, if needed) the same things. There’s unity even over the distance. There is agreement even over distance.
Without prayer partners…
Without trusted people to be praying for and with me, my normal introverted self would be living in isolation and loneliness. I have often felt that no one understands me or really knows me; I am sure others, mentally ill or not, experience the same feelings.
Our unrealistic expectations are that others will know what we need without even telling them. My Prayer partners expect regular two-way contact with me. I can’t hide in isolation too long before one or more of my partners in prayer comes to find me with an email, text, phone call, or some form of internet face-to-face communication. That kind of care and concern is what everyone longs for and so rarely finds.
I find that the more I isolate from people, especially my Prayer Partners, the more I begin to isolate from God. It is so easy for us to fall into thinking that no one cares, not even God. That is not how God designed us, it’s not what God wants for us, and it’s not what
God has commanded us.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:16)
God designed us to be in prayer with others and to be encouraged by others according to our specific needs and general needs. Only people whom we truly know and who truly know us, can be that kind of encouragers.
God has given us clear instructions regarding how we should relate to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
In my experience, these characteristics are best achieved in either a small group or person-to-person. My Prayer Partners and I are devoted to one another in love, we honor each other, we are diligent, we are persevering in the good times and in troubles, and it all
started because we devoted ourselves to praying for each other.
In closing, a note on establishing Prayer Partner relationships.
Where do you find the people who will be the most devoted to you in their prayers?
First, whom are you being devoted to in prayer?
My starting point was determining who are the people I most often pray for.
I found that in order to pray best for them I needed to regularly be in communication with them. I needed to be asking about the status of the things I was already praying for and ask for any new requests or directions for prayer.
As we had regular conversations, some of these people started asking me for my prayer requests. The Prayer Partner relationship grew from there.
Another avenue for establishing prayer partners was looking at whom I was in godly, Christ-centered, Word-centered fellowship the most. Thus my Bible study partners (one lives in Idaho and we do Bible study by Zoom each week) became prayer partners.
These prayer partner relationships started by holding each other accountable for specific and measurable applications of the Word we studied each week. We always ended with sharing our individual applications and other prayer requests, and we closed in praying
Eventually, these relationships will grow. With the possibilities of technology in our modern world, we can have almost constant accessibility to each other. We can share even urgent needs and be assured those needs are covered in prayer by at least one Prayer
Asking for prayer from others also leads to approaching God more frequently as well. There will still be times when we feel alone, but with Prayer Partners that feeling doesn’t last nearly as long.
Kathryn Shirey sums it up well for me:
“Sharing your heart and your prayers with someone else can benefit you in many ways, so I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try.” (Kathryn Shirey)
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