I am frequently given lists of prayer needs - Sunday school, Wednesday Bible study, the church prayer chain. Most of the time I write the prayer requests down and mumble a brief prayer over them then go about my business.
This past Sunday night our youth group stayed upstairs for evening worship to hear a special speaker. As one of the youth workers, I sat with the teens in their favorite spot at the back of the sanctuary. After the message was finished the congregation broke into small groups to pray together. The guest speaker, a youth minister from another church, came and joined us in the back.
Some of the kids named requests and then my 14 year old nephew who is visiting asked that we pray for his parents. Instead of each person in the group taking a turn, as is the custom, the guest minister prayed for all the requests. Except one - my nephew's request. I looked at him as the man finished praying. I know this man didn't deliberately forget this one request. There was a lot to pray for.
I heard the wife of another youth worker assure my nephew that she would be praying for him and his parents. I was grateful to her and reinforced that we all needed to pray for his parents. Then I went about my business...
...Until I stated playing the whole thing over in my mind...
I was quickly humbled by the realization that my business is to be in prayer.
"Bear one another's burdens, an there by fulfill the law of Christ." ~Galatians 6:2.
"Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves." ~Romans 15:1.
I know the details of my nephew's family life. He is my baby sister's son. She and her husband have struggled to hold their marriage together for 15 years. I can't honestly say that I've spent even a few minutes weekly praying for them. But I won't soon forget the look on my nephew's face when the minister overlooked his prayer request. It was a look of resignation, as if he figures nothing will change anyway, so why bother with prayer?
I have about six weeks to pray hard before my sister comes back to pick up her son and daughter. In that time, I'm vowing to spend some serious, dedicated time praying for their very real needs.
"When there is little awareness of real need there is little real prayer."