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The Person Behind the Prayer Request

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One of the things I love about the small group setting is that we can join each other in praying for just about anything. It is not helpful for everybody in a worship service on Sunday morning to request prayer for their ailing elbow, their aging pet, and their general sleeplessness due to young children. But our Heavenly Father loves to hear the things that are really weighing on our hearts and minds, and the small group setting often allows for that level of engagement in each other’s lives. If the list above sounds like prayer request time in your small group, don’t despair … God values those prayers!

On the other hand, there’s another aspect of prayer in small groups that is equally valuable and more easily missed. The relationships we develop with each other should be the foundation from which we can delve into the person behind the prayer request. What do I mean by that? Beneath every life circumstance or difficulty is the heart of the person sharing the request. While God cares about every request, He and we should care about every person behind every request.

The person behind the request to pray for their ailing elbow may be struggling with feelings of inadequacy or inferiority because they can’t accomplish what they used to. The person behind the request to pray for their aging pet may be battling deep loneliness and depression. The person behind the request to pray for sleeplessness may be dealing with marital strain or anger toward children.

The point is that as God has called us into relationship with each other, we need to pray for the request and the person behind the request. That will likely require us asking questions like “That seems really tough … How is it affecting you personally?” or “Wow, if I were dealing with that, I would feel really discouraged … How are you handling that?” or “When I’m tired, everyone around me suffers … How are you and your spouse doing with all this?”

A couple sympathetic responses and thoughtful questions can care well for each other as well as enrich your prayer time so that you can pray for the prayer request AND the person behind it. For more on this suggestion and other helpful ways to improve small group prayer time, check out this article: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/4-suggestions-to-deepen-your-small-group-prayer


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Recommended Reading

You'll find most of my recommended books available in the Guest Center at Southwood.

  • You Can Change
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    Tim Chester

    How do we mortify sin? How do we address the sin in our lives that reignite like a trick birthday candle we thought we had already blown out of our lives? This is a careful and thoroughly theological book that is hopeful without avoiding honesty. It is practical without being legalistic. It gets to the root of the sinful areas of our lives without offering a prescriptive regimen to hide behind avoiding the grace that has the only true power to teach “us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

  • Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
    Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
    Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp

    Small groups would be easy if weren’t for the people in the group! This book will help equip you to see your own sin first and provide the courage and humility to address it in others.

  • The Heart of a Servant Leader

    This is a collection of letters written by Jack Miller to people experiencing real-life concerns and struggles. Through these gracious and honest letters you will learn how to humbly offer to others (and yourself!) hope, repentance, and courage that flows from the truth of the gospel of grace.  Though this isn’t a “how to” book full of nifty steps to Your Best Gospel Life Now. It’s a glimpse into the heart of a person who has found food at the Cross, and you watch (and learn) as he humbly points others to the feast.

  • Comforts From The Cross
    Comforts From The Cross
    Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

    This 31 day devotional will bring you to the foot of the cross to remember and celebrate the truth of the gospel of grace, and develop skills that will help “inform, free, gladden, and enliven your soul every day.” Becoming proficient in applying the Gospel of grace to our own hearts is a key skill that is well worth our effort to develop.

Recommended Listening

  • Christ PCA - Nashville
    Scott Sauls and CPC Staff

    Listen to sermons from Senior Pastor Scott Sauls and other CPC pastors at a sister church.

  • Lookout Mountain PCA
    Joe Novenson and LMPC Staff

    Check out sermons by Senior Pastor Joe Novenson and other LMPC pastors at a sister church.

  • Steve Brown Etc.
    Steve Brown

    Steve Brown’s unique blend of orthodoxy and controversy, humor and profundity, and a refusal to play religious games will give you permission you have needed to stop being so uptight. And even if it’s for 30 minutes, you just might experience radical freedom, infectious joy and maybe even a bit of surprising faithfulness.

Recommended Links

  • Tim Chester: reformed spirituality and missional church
    Tim Chester

    Tim has an incredible way of applying the Gospel of grace that is both practical and honest with a consistent skillful affinity to point us to Jesus. He is director of The Porterbrook Institute; a church planter with The Crowded House in Sheffield, UK; and the author of over a dozen books including Total Church and You Can Change.

  • Of First Importance
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    Here you will find a growing collection of gospel-centered quotes to help reorient your thoughts toward the splendor and grandeur of the person and work of Jesus.