Four Guidelines When Praying for People

Four Guidelines When Praying for People

The Creator of the universe invites you to partner with Him in prayer. What a privilege! When you bring people and situations before God’s throne, He releases His power. Your prayers, in partnership with God, have amazing potential to bring about healing and comfort to others. In this blog taken from Secrets of Intercessory Prayer by Jack Hayford, you will be introduced to a life of prayer that is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and the needs of those for whom you pray.

The best word to describe this approach to prayer for loved ones is compassion. We encourage you to embrace the challenge in this blog—to authentically, compassionately, and boldly pray for others.


The quality of our “humanness” as believers is essential to us becoming a comfort to others. Joined to praying faith, we must have a comforting hand. Meet the Apostle Paul now in the midsection of his ministry years.

When Paul went to Corinth, a church was born. He served there as a founding pastor for a year and a half, and the people had suffered misunderstanding and great stress. That is what the two letters to the Corinthians are about. The encouraging opening note for us is that the people being addressed knew the Lord Jesus. In other words, troubles are not reserved only for people outside the body of Christ.

What makes 2 Corinthians so unusual within the New Testament books is its picture of our humanity. It throbs with emotion. It swings back and forth with tidal waves of problems, and in it all, we find the heart of the Lord to solve them. The key word in this epistle is comfort. The God who comforts us in all our troubles is called “the God of all comfort” in the opening of this letter—the Lord God Almighty who uses His people to help others understand He is also the Lord God All-Caring.

How did Paul help the Corinthians embrace this comfort? He models four guidelines we should use when we pray with people.

First, always open your heart honestly. Paul showed a transparent heart. Look at these words: “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open” (2 Corinthians 6:11). Here is the Apostle Paul saying, “I’m not going to hide from you.”

Second, always be comforting—not preachy. The key word is comfort—in the Greek, paraklesis—and it means to come alongside because you are invited. When we join others in prayer, we are offering to help “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). There are 23 verbs in the New Testament that describe how Christians ought to act toward one another—such as edify one another, comfort one another, exhort one another, wait for one another. In other words, come alongside; don’t come at. Christians who come at a person make it difficult for that person to receive. “Brother, what you need is more faith. I’m going to pray for you.” Do you hear something in the tone of voice? But in our daily lives, we are called alongside people. Identifying with them. Talking with them. Be comforting, not preachy. Be patient. Say something like: “Listen, I think the Lord is telling me something for you. Is it okay if I share it with you?”

Third, always pray in faith in Jesus’ name. Invoke Jesus’ name. Prayer gatherings are not group therapy sessions; they are Holy Spirit–comfort and healing groups. Granted, there is value in various group gatherings such as the recovery groups included in our congregation’s ministry that bring comfort to many. In our prayer gatherings, we are not simply hoping that people feel better. Rather, we are expecting transformation by the power of God’s Word and Spirit. When we come together to pray, the resource of power does not come from the milk of human kindness but from the presence and power of Jesus’ name. Remember with confidence that He said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

Finally, always be open to the Holy Spirit to give. The Holy Spirit is ready to give gifts. This does not mean that there will be a manifestation of a spiritual gift every time you join others in prayer. Having said that, however, I think there are times when Holy Spirit gifts are delivered through sensitive prayer and ministry, and no one particularly recognizes it. The test of our effectiveness is not in verifying to ourselves that we “did supernatural things.” Rather, it is that the end result is that Jesus is glorified, and the Holy Spirit is given room to work. Thus, no one need ever make a show of functioning in the gifts of the Spirit, but we should desire them to be regularly operative and functionally present (1 Corinthians 14:1). A word of encouragement … a word of wisdom … a word of knowledge … a gift of healing. Whatever is needed and whatever is appropriate to the moment. In the most beautiful way, great things happen when God’s great Spirit is given place to give gifts.

Jesus said, “My peace I give unto you, My love I give unto you, My joy I give unto you.” When we pray with others, He gives His peace, engages the gifts of the Spirit for our use, and comforts us in the process. Let’s learn now how to live in this place of prayer.


Copyright © 2024 by Jack Hayford



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