Praying for others through God’s lenses
When we first start to pray for other people, it is not unusual to worry that we may say something wrong or look stupid. Once we take the focus off ourselves however, our prayers will flow more naturally as we allow God’s Holy Spirit to work through us. We can ask the Holy Spirit to guide us so we can able to pray for others through God’s “lenses”.
Romans 8:27-28 NLT And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Every issue and struggle in life can be tied back to our faith in who God is, and every prayer is an opportunity to build that faith. Prayers simply mark “refuelling stops” in our powerful spiritual journeys with our Heavenly Father!
Putting on “God’s lenses”
The Bible records a time when Jesus invited His disciple, Peter, to step out of a boat in the midst of a storm and walk with him. When Peter kept his eyes focused on God, he walked on water. But when he started to focus on the wind and his environment, Peter immediately began to sink.
Matthew 14:29-31 ESV He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Praise God that when we pray for others, it is an opportunity to focus on Jesus so that we can also “walk on water“ with them. Too often, our natural reflex would be to ask God to give Peter a life vest, send His disciple back into the boat immediately, or to remove the sea – without realising that God’s ultimate aim was for Peter to experience a miracle, so that he could personally testify of God’s power.
1. Example of praying with God’s lenses
Someone who prays with “God’s lenses” will pray like this, “I praise You for being such a wonderful and personal Father. Thank you, God for allowing Peter to experience You during this challenging time. We confess that we are confused and afraid. We ask that You please teach us to turn our eyes to focus on Your higher purpose in our lives, rather than our circumstances. We praise God that You are a perfect Father who promises to never forsake us or allow us to be snatched out of Your powerful hands. We thank you in advance for all the good work that You will do in Peter’s life and the testimony that You will give him out of this experience.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
John 10:28 ESV I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
2. Example of praying without God’s lenses
On the other hand, someone who prays without looking at things through God’s eyes will ultimately make the mistake of looking at things through our limited human perspectives, and pray like Peter, “Lord, save us!” – as if God wants us to drown and die. Our prayers sound weak, anxious and faithless, and challenge God’s goodness, power and love. No wonder Jesus replied to Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Even in the most challenging of times, we need to remember that our ways are not God’s ways, and our greatest wisdom is tiny compared to God’s omniscience.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Blessings others with “God’s lenses” prayers
Here are some points we can keep in mind the next time we pray with someone.
1. First, cleanse our hearts
It is always a good idea to ask God to show us anything in our hearts that may hinder our prayers, particularly doubt, self-righteousness and judgment. The Bible says that all things flow from our hearts, and can result in either good fruit or bad fruit. May we remember to always confess our personal sins first so that our prayers for other people will only bear good fruit.
Isaiah 59:2 ESV but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Luke 6:45 ESV The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
2. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead the prayer
No one has the ability to know all the spiritual roots of our struggles in life. It is impossible to pray powerful prayers that cut right into the heart of an issue without the help of the Holy Spirit. He searches and knows all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10,13 ESV But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God… And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
People tend to rush into prayer because they are afraid of silence. This is a mistake, because we end up relying on our own understanding and babble.
When we invite the Holy Spirit to inspire our prayers, we simply need to slow down and be attentive to His prompting. First wait a minute or two, so that our hearts can be still before God and we can receive from Him. He will give us instincts and ideas about what to pray about, either before the prayer or during.
Job 38:36 NLT Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind?
Proverbs 3:5 ESV Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
3. Start with praising God’s character
Next is when we can finally start praying out loud, beginning with praise and thanksgiving. This helps to remind everyone who it is that we pray to and prepares a right attitude in our hearts, so we speak words that honour God and lift others up.
For example, we can praise God that:
- He rejoices over us when we turn to Him | The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
- He is holy and sovereign, yet gentle and compassionate | Matthew 11:29 ESV Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
- His love and mercies never end | Lamentations 3:22-32 ESV The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
- He chooses to forget our sins once we confess | Isaiah 43:25 NLT “I–yes, I alone–will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.
- He is faithful and will guard us | 2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESV But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.
- He will never abandon us | Psalm 27:10 NLT Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.
- He leads us by His mighty hand | Isaiah 41:13 ESV For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
4. Affirm the person with God’s Fatherly love
Next, we can affirm God’s wonderful works in the person we are praying for, because he or she has been made in God’s image. We can acknowledge the good we see in someone and all the even greater things God will do in his or her life, because our hope and faith is in God, not our circumstances or other people.
For example, we can praise God that the person:
- Is fearfully and wonderfully made by God | Psalm 139:13 ESV I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
- Is precious in God’s sight | Isaiah 43:4 ESV Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
- Has been created for good works | Ephesians 2:10 ESV For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- Has been declared a new creation in Christ | 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
- Will be brought to completion in God | Philippians 1:6 ESV And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
All prayers for others should strengthen, encourage or comfort them. Sometimes, God may give us a word or a vision and we can share these with meekness and tenderness, using words that build others up. God may send a warning, but He will never be condemning, frightening or discouraging. We must be sensitive with our words, so that we reflect God’s Fatherly love accurately. Let us always speak words that strengthen, encourage and comfort one another.
1 Corinthians 14:3 NIV But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.
Praying through God’s lenses is also not a matter of instructing God to obey our requests, but choosing to obey and honour Him first. When we pray through God’s eyes, we will not be telling Him what to do as if we know better than Him. Instead, we will ask Him what we should do in order to honour Him and experience “walking on water”.
Side note: Where possible, we should try not to repeat everything that someone requested for prayer about. This gives the impression that God has not been listening or does not already know everything.
Matthew 6:7-8 ESV “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
5. Thank God for His continued guidance
Last but not least, we can thank God that He will continue to guide, instruct and lead the people we pray for. Because we have a good and perfect Father in Heaven who holds the entire universe in His hands, we can walk by faith on all types of water.
Matthew 28:20 ESV … behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV For we walk by faith, not by sight.
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