16-year-old starts a ‘prayer locker’ at her Alabama high school
Student Brianna Farris on her decision to start a ‘prayer locker.’
Most of us have said the words, “I will be praying for you” when our friends or family are going through hardship. But how many times have we genuinely taken those prayer requests boldly to God?
What would happen if rather than offering to pray privately for our friends in times of need, we instead asked if we could pray with them?
For a long time the thought of praying in front of other people made me extremely uncomfortable–even with my closest friends.
Maybe you can relate. After all, at one point Jesus did chastise religious leaders for praying in public: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:5-6).
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This scripture admonition shaped my thought process on the importance of praying privately for years. However, at that point in my life I had also never experienced having someone pray for me, with me.
My first encounter with this happened after a sermon at church one Sunday. I was telling a friend about an exciting revelation I felt God had put on my heart earlier that week when suddenly she asked if she could pray for me right then and there.
I remember it vividly because not only was she offering to pray for me in the middle of a room filled with people buzzing around us, she was suggesting we pray as a means of celebration rather than supplication.
I timidly accepted, worried how awkward I would feel. I could not have been more wrong. The words she spoke over me made me feel so seen and loved by God in that moment. He taught me an invaluable lesson that day about the need for boldness and encouragement within the body of the church.
Though Jesus did preach against public prayer that is rooted in a desire to be admired or perceived as “holy,” we cannot lose sight of all the places where He stressed the importance, and truly, necessity for believers to pray together.
In Matthew 18:19-20 Jesus taught, “Truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Notice how Jesus emphasizes that it is when we gather together, not just pray separately for the same things, that His power fully manifests behind our requests. He reinforces this in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”
Jesus knew more than anyone how lonely and hopeless we can feel at times. This is especially true for His followers, because we have been spiritually attuned to recognize how much darkness exists in this world.
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That is why He insisted that we pray and encourage one another together, not out of a need to check off some religious box, but rather so that together we may move His will forward on the earth as it is in Heaven.
We need to be spiritually lifted out of our own perspective at times, and the most effective way to do this is to join with other believers in faith, hope and love –through prayer.
If you feel uneasy about the idea of praying out loud in front of other people, I would first encourage you. You are not alone; I think most people feel this way initially. However, instructions from God rarely feel natural to us initially.
Creating these habits takes time and repetition, and God provides us with so much grace as we find our footing.
Ask God to give you courage and to put friends or family members on your heart who you can pray with either over the phone or in person. When we step out in faith and rely on His strength–even as we pray–He equips us and brings beautiful fruit from our lives.
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Your prayers could be exactly what someone needs right now. Don’t miss an opportunity for God to use you!
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
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