There are times when I am led to pray for someone, but I'm not exactly sure what kind of prayer would please God most. That's when I often hear the Lord say to my heart, "Pray for them as you would want them to pray for you, if you were in their situation." In other words, God wants me to apply the Golden Rule principle to my prayers for them.
Jesus said: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." (Matthew 7:12 NIV) I find that having this kind of prayer mindset is very valuable when I'm praying for someone who has hurt me somehow, or who I feel doesn't deserve God's mercy and blessings. If I'm tempted to not pray for them at all, or to pray something less than I would for someone I loved and held in high regard, this rule of thumb prompts me to turn the other cheek, and to be a blessing to someone I wouldn't ordinarily want to bless. As I sow seeds of mercy and love, I know in my heart that the Lord is pleased with my prayers and my godly attitude, and He will reward my obedience somewhere down the line.
Naturally, there are some exceptions to this rule. When someone wants me to pray for something that I believe contradicts the Word and the will of God, or that I know in my heart is not good for them, I do not pray the way they would want me to pray. For example, if a person has been in a relationship that is clearly outside the will of God, I'm not about to pray for the relationship to be restored, or to continue. Instead, I will often ask the Lord to help this person to see how destructive the relationship is, to let go of it, and to move on into the relationships that are His best for them.
When I'm sick, I want people to pray for my healing. When I'm in need of finances or other material things, I want people to pray for my needs to be met. When I want deliverance or protection, it's my desire that others would pray for those things for me. God is not going to fault you and me for praying for blessings like these for other people. And if by chance we do err in this area, His Spirit will prompt us to pray differently. Next time you feel led to pray for someone, ask yourself, "How would I want someone to pray for me, if I were in a situation like theirs?"
Prayer: Lord, I confess all bitterness and unforgiveness in me as sin, and I ask that You cleanse me of it once and for all. Help me to love everyone with Your kind of love. Teach me how to sow seeds of mercy and compassion, so that I will reap these things in return. Give me the discernment I need to pray the prayers of Your heart for myself and others. Grant me a working knowledge of Your Word so that I will never pray in ways that contradict Your will. Thank You that the more I intercede for others, the more You will lead others to intercede for me!
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