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Phone it in (but in a good way)

Occasionally I get an email from someone who found me through this blog. The subject line will read “please pray for me” or something along those lines. I usually offer to call the person so we might pray together. Praying on the phone is not a frequent practice for me, but I’m still a fan because of my first experience calling someone for prayer.

One night during college, I watched a movie that disturbed me greatly. It followed the downward spiral of various characters through the horrors of drug addiction and crazed desperation. When it was over, I felt spiritually polluted, like I had taken in something I shouldn’t have. I had trouble sleeping that night, and the film still haunted me the next day. After my morning class, I went directly to a campus phone outside the lecture hall and called a friend from high school. This was before cell phones – at least before I had a cell phone – and I’m so grateful she picked up. “Will you please pray for me?” I asked. “I saw this awful movie last night and can’t get the images out of my head.”

In one of the most meaningful moments of our friendship, she prayed for me right then and there over the phone. Eyes closed tight, clutching the receiver, and hanging on her every word, I learned that the power of prayer goes beyond our attempts to influence God. It’s a power that cuts to the core of our being with a mix of compassion, vulnerability, and hope.

Praying with and for another person is an intimate experience, and it can push the boundaries of our comfort zones. It’s much less intimidating to tell someone, “You’re in my prayers,” and then wait until we’re alone to offer those prayers to God. If we remember, that is. And truth be told, it’s not always convenient, or even desirable, to pray with a fellow Christian on the spot. But sometimes an opportunity will present itself clearly... at home or church, in the office, even out in public, and definitely over the phone. The next time you say, “I’ll be praying for you,” consider offering to pray with that person in the moment as well. Sharing in the power of prayer can only strengthen our shared belief in the One who answers.