I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day about how often we allow our good intentions to replace actions in our lives. So often we say to someone, “I intended to write you a note, but I just never did it. I am sorry.” The interesting thing is that person would have never known that I had intended to write a note or call or whatever, but by telling them I am allowing my intent to replace the action of reaching out. I am hoping they will take the fact that I thought of them and intended to do something as an adequate replacement for actually doing it.

Writing notes and making phone calls is one thing, but there is an area that is much more critical, and I think much more often misused. That is the area of offering prayer support. All too often I think the intent to pray for someone replaces the action of actually doing it. We tell someone, “I will be praying for you,” but then allow our schedules and lives to keep us from following through on the promise. It’s as if we say in our hearts, “Oh, the Lord knows I intended to pray for them, so that’s good enough.” Please hear me. The message here is not to stop promising prayer support. If God places someone in front of you that you know you are to pray for, tell them, but then DO IT!

I have been on a pretty amazing faith journey over the past 6 months. One of the major areas in which the Lord has dealt with me is the area of prayer. I don’t for a minute claim to understand or even have enough knowledge to speak to the discipline of prayer. In fact, if I am completely transparent, I have to say that I don’t get it. I don’t understand why the Creator of the Universe desires to converse with me about things that are happening in my life and the lives of people around me. But He does. Time and again I awake in the middle of the night (usually around 3 am) with specific people on my mind and heart and I know it is the Lord’s prodding for me to pray for them. Not for a minute do I believe that the Lord needs my fragile words to open doors for Him to act, but I am absolutely amazed that he loves me enough to take me along on the journey.

Something I have learned over the past months is that this prayer journey is extremely personal. During the first few months, I was so amazed that it was happening, that I talked about it a lot. And as God would answer prayers, I wanted people to know about it. I thought it was cool. I wanted other people to think I was cool and spiritual because God was answering my prayers. It’s like I was saying, “I prayed about it, then it happened. You’re welcome, world!” Then, on one of my more intense middle of the night prayer journeys, I realized that this prayer time was extremely personal, and God was using it to grow my faith, not the faith of those around me. All I had to do was commit to walk the road with Him and just DO IT.

If you are like me, you are often completely overwhelmed by the needs of people around you. If you took time daily to pray for everyone around you that needs some type of prayer support, you would be praying for hours each day. I think this is especially true for those in ministry. At the beginning of this journey the Lord birthed a concept in me that has truly been amazing, and I want to share it with you.

One of the things that precipitated this spiritual awakening for me back in November was that I found myself walking through times of crisis with several friends who are very close to me. One involved a job loss, one a cancer diagnosis, one a failed marriage, one an inappropriate relationship, and one who was dealing with the fallout of another’s actions. They were all very close friends of mine who were hurting deeply. I began praying for these people day and night, and began to realize that God was birthing a new ministry concept in my life. I think of it as a table for 5. Basically these are my 5 to minister to, to love completely, and to pray for relentlessly.  It is so intense that there is no way I could be involved with more than 5 at a time. It has been an amazing, exciting adventure, and one that I can do in this stage of my life. All of these people are in some type of crisis, or have a great spiritual need in their lives. As healing comes, they move off of my “table list,” and on to my regular prayer list, but God always provides someone to move into the open seat.

This concept has helped me so much in praying for people I love. At night, when I awake, I first pray for each of these 5. You may be asking why my table is not a table for 6, since I am part of it. But I don’t ever sit. In my mind I move around the table, placing my hands on each of them as I pray for them. I pray for these people several times during the day. I see it as an absolute blessing to be able to take these friends to the Father, and I am in it for the duration until God moves them off of the list.

Certainly I pray for others with needs and for ministries and ministers in my life. I pray for my family and my church, and I am extremely aware when God lays someone specific on my heart. But the intensity for the 5 comes first.

I know I was supposed to share this on this beautiful Sunday morning. I hope that you will consider examining your life and your heart before the Lord and see if maybe He is leading you to some people to sit at your table. It is a blessed journey.

So, maybe there are notes that you need to write. Or maybe there is a phone call that you need to make. Or maybe there is a prayer journey that you need to begin for someone. Whatever God has placed on your heart as you have read these words, please don’t ignore it. We are His hands and feet. He uses us to touch others with His love. Just DO IT.

Romans 12 has been a place that I have often found myself during this season of my life. Here is how vs. 9-13 read in The Message:

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Blessings, my friends!