This is our first post in a series of advice column-style blogs entitled “Asking for a Friend.” For more information on the series and to submit your own questions, click here!
Question: How do you pray for God to intervene?
Without giving away too much personal information, this person is wondering what to do when something is happening to a loved one that they don’t think is right or that they can support (for example, their loved one is involved in a relationship that they think is unhealthy).
First thing’s first: you can pray for God to change a situation. I think a lot of people are leery about this because it seems wrong to pray against something, but our job as ambassadors of Christ is to partner with God and bring about what He wants to do on the earth. Sometimes people are heading to make really, really bad decisions and this is when we can advocate for them – just like Jesus does for us, as Romans 8:34 says. Time and time again in the Bible we read about righteous people interceding for people they care about that have done foolish things, and we see God respond. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
That being said, let’s look at a few points on how to pray for God to intervene:
- Pray for God’s will to be done.
In the Lord’s Prayer (the model that Jesus gave to us as a baseline for how to pray), one of the first things said is, “Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Even before Jesus was about to be crucified – the worst fate that any of us could come to that he surely wanted to avoid – he prayed “Your will be done.” Seems like this is something to pay attention to! At the end of the day, God is sovereign and has a plan that none of us will ever fully comprehend on this side of Heaven. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours and He has promised us that He is working all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Now, of course, God’s will will be done no matter what in one form or another, but it is in this act of praying alongside it that we can submit ourselves to His plan and increase our love and trust in Him.
- Pray God will change your own heart.
One of the most important things to remember when praying for God to intervene or for a situation to change is this: the only person you can control is yourself. One of my very favorite books for relational guidance is by Pastor Danny Silk out of Bethel Church in Redding, CA called Keep Your Love On. In it, he goes over the concept of being a “powerful person” and what that looks like in relationships. Basically, it is realizing that you are not responsible for anyone’s actions but your own, and powerful people recognize that the best thing you can do to “keep your love on” is to choose to respond in a way that is loving and beneficial to the relationship. When people make choices that we don’t like (which they will do for the rest of our lives) or that we can clearly see is not the best for them (which they will also do for the rest of our lives), we have the responsibility of respecting those choices. We can love and counsel in an appropriate way and when it’s welcomed, but ultimately, we cannot control them. At this point is when we can pray for God to change our own hearts. Pray that we see the situation and individuals with love and that we can act in wisdom. Pray to let go of control and trust that God loves them more than we do. And lastly, we can try to see things from the other’s perspective and pray that we will gain compassion and understanding.
- Pray for God to protect all parties involved.
Here is where we can do some real interceding. Pray like you mean it! If you are praying for God to intercede then you must really care about this person – act on that. You can pray for protection, pray against attacks from the enemy, from deception, from abuse, etc. Don’t be afraid to get really specific. When we pray and intercede for others, it is like we are building bridges between God and that person. Pastor Robert Morris from Gateway Church in Dallas explains it like this – intercession is not just saying words, it’s a construction project! Like I mentioned in the beginning, the Bible promises that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. God loves his children and His heart is moved when we come to him with sincerity and need, even on behalf of others.
Hopefully this helps you. I know watching someone make decisions that you know will bring pain and heartache is never easy, but God has you in this situation with them for a reason. Surrender it to Jesus, trust and obey his leading and his word, and let love be your ultimate motivator. You can do this!
Here’s a prayer to start off with, if you need some help:
“God, thank you for creating _____. Thank you that [he or she] and I can be in relationship. Thank you for your goodness in our lives, for your faithfulness to love and protect us, and for your promise that you will never leave us. I ask that you would protect _____ in this next season. Protect them physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I pray that your Holy Spirit would convict them where they need conviction and comfort them where they need comfort; that their eyes would be opened to your truth. That they would be able to proceed and make decisions with clarity and with wisdom. God, forgive them for where they can’t see they’ve gone wrong. I pray that you would draw them close to you with your kindness, and that they would have the boldness to repent and start over if that is what’s needed. I pray that our relationship will remain healthy and life-giving, and would be a source of encouragement and refreshment. Lastly, I pray that you would lavish them with your love so that they could see it – that you would be made undeniably real to them. Thank you for going ahead of us and paving the way for more life and more abundance. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Recovering Control Freak and Practicing Prayer-er