How can I pray for you? Such a simple phrase. Perhaps you’ve genuinely asked someone, or perhaps you’ve been asked that question yourself and scrambled for words because you didn’t know what to say.
At the end of a three day-long retreat for the teens in Kenai, I posed this question to the girls in my small group. There were six girls, and Katya, one of our Russian missionaries, was praying for them as well. I sensed the girls’ hesitation and could almost see their invisible guards rising. After all, they did not know each other well. How could they possibly share something so important to people they’ve only known for a few days? And even more so, what would the other girls think?
In a moment inspired by the Holy Spirit, I knew if I wanted the girls to open up and be real with one another, I had to be too. So I shared with them how I learned to be vulnerable.
For the longest time, I never shared what was going on in my heart to anyone. It was simply too personal. No one else needed to know. God knew, and that was enough. He knew my failures. He knew my struggles with certain sins. He knew my crosses. That was enough, I thought.
Through a certain friend in college the Lord showed me the beauty of vulnerability in holy friendship and the power of prayer. With my friend’s persistence and God’s grace, I was finally able to honestly answer her question: how can I pray for you?
Before I would always keep my answer on the surface level. For my grandma who’s ill. For world peace. For my studies. All important intentions, but also all safe answers that didn’t share too much about myself.
That day in college, it was different. That day, I shared with my friend what was on my heart – what I truly needed prayers for: my struggle with trusting in the Lord’s plan for me. Then, the moment of uncertainty: how would my friend respond? Would she laugh at my lack of faith? Would she think less of me? No. Her response was beautiful.
She looked at me with the most understanding eyes and prayed over me then and there – for my specific intention. It was powerful.
Sharing this with the girls, I encouraged them to be vulnerable with each other in this moment. We all need prayers, so why not take a chance and truly answer that question: how can we pray for you?
I was blown away. One by one, the girls asked for prayers. For a deeper relationship with Jesus. For grace to be able to do God’s will. For courage with the upcoming school year. For confidence in herself. One by one, we put a hand on the shoulder of our sister in Christ and lifted her to Jesus and Our Lady in prayer. Indeed, “Where two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, there He is in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
The Holy Spirit was present. We all experienced the power of prayer that day. What a gift from God! Next time you are asked that question, maybe take a chance and respond with what your heart really needs. God will bless all that you give Him.
God bless you,
Lisa and the Magadan Mission Team