As people of faith, we are called to pray with and for each other. The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. 1 Timothy 2.1 (The Message).
As Protestants, some of us have forgotten that prayer is the work of all God’s people, relegating the ‘job’ to professional pray-ers (think pastor here). But we are a priesthood of believers, understanding since the great Reformation, as well as before, that praying for others is the work of all believers, not merely the few.
Some of us are pretty good about praying for other people, but not so good about praying with them, hence these suggestions to consider about praying out loud with another person:
1. Everybody stumbles over their words and so will you. Take comfort that even the Billy Grahams of this world stumble over their words too.
2. Remember when someone prayed with and for you right on the spot - wasn’t that so much better and more comforting for you than a promise to pray for you later? If it was that way for you, it’s that way for others too.
3. Practice praying out loud when you are alone - practice really does make things easier.
4. Memorize scriptures that can be prayed.
5. Memorize set prayers or quotes that have been helpful to you in the past.
6. Don’t be afraid of silence in prayer with others. Just sitting and lifting your hearts to God, whether with words or in moments of silence is a blessed space.
7. Never underestimate the power of physical contact during prayer - holding hands, hugging and whispering a prayer into someone’s ear, an arm around a shoulder - think of what your body is doing not as something to or for the other person, but as a part of the prayer and praying - your hands are praying comfort as they hold the other person’s hands, your arm is praying protection as it hugs the other person close, etc.
8. Don’t be afraid to take a moment before beginning - to still your own thoughts and fears, to seek a word from God about what should be prayed for.
9. Ask the other person to name what they would like you to pray for - their answer might surprise you. It might not be about them at all.
10. Don’t overlook the power of a prayer offered in writing - whether in a note or letter, by e-mail or on Facebook, it is so much more to receive the actual prayer than simply the news that I prayed for you today.
I have a prayer buddy back home who will often simply whisper a prayer in your ear when she hugs you. It is an incredible gift. Her giving spirit, open to God’s call to pray without ceasing, gave me the courage to pray for others as I have been prayed for – aloud, on the spot, like a dance, following God’s leading.