God, I really don’t want to pray for him. I looked at the name on my Facebook friends list. He had publicly admitted to doing something awful, in the process hurting one of our mutual friends. Certainly it would be OK if I just skipped him?
My resolution for 2020 had been to pray my way through my Facebook friends. Each day I looked at my list of friends and prayed for two individuals, spending some time looking at their Face- book walls to see what I might be able to petition on their behalf. Then I would send them a message letting them know they were in my prayers.
Everybody deserves prayer. The response to my pleadings was forceful. I couldn’t argue. Jesus had interceded for those who crucified Him. I could pray for my friend who had fallen to temptation.
I looked at his Facebook wall. There was a joke about money. Remembering that there’s a bit of truth behind every joke, I wondered if he needed financial blessings. God, I can’t pray for that. That’s way too personal! It’s awkward enough to be praying for him at all, but to be praying about his financial situation? Does he even deserve financial blessings?
God wasn’t giving me a pass. And so I drafted a message to my friend.
“May God give you grace as you rebuild your life. May you stay healthy through the pandemic,” I typed. Then forcing myself to pray for the one thing I didn’t want to pray for, I finished, “and may God take care of your financial needs.” I hit send, wondering if I would regret my message.
But when I got his response, all I felt was relief that I hadn’t neglected my duty. He told me that he had just been put on unpaid leave because of the pandemic. He really didn’t know how he was going to get by financially.
I let out a gasp, realizing how close I’d come to not praying for someone facing a crisis; and moreover, how close I’d come to not praying for the very thing he was desperately needing. I told him that I felt God had directed my prayer for him.
“Perhaps so,” he responded.
What I didn’t know was that there was another crisis he was facing. One that he didn’t speak of at the time, but that would come out later: a crisis of faith.
I wish I could say my intercession put him back on the straight and narrow, but that would be untrue. He still struggles with the big questions and no longer identifies as a Christian.
But this makes me even more glad that I prayed for him. Had I skipped over him, I would secretly have wondered if praying for him would have made a difference in his decision.
And I still hold on to hope, hope that one day, as he looks back at the ways God has reached out to him, maybe this experience will play a small role in bringing him back into Jesus’ arms.
No matter what happens, I’ll always be glad I prayed the prayer I didn’t want to pray.
Lori Futcher is the editor of the new junior, earli-teen, and youth “Alive in Jesus” Sabbath School curriculum that will become available in 2025.