Thursday, June 9, 2016


I’ve found that sometimes God wants to interrupt my customary prayer agenda by leading me to pray for someone or something else—perhaps a person or situation I haven’t even consciously thought about. 

There are many ways of praying from formal and liturgical community prayer to personal mental and silent prayer and simply informally lifting one’s spirit to God. All are valid ways of touching the Divine.

The Holy Spirit seeks people through whom He can pray. How awesome that He would want to literally pray through me! So then I shouldn’t restrict the Holy Spirit, but let Him rise up within me and “pray aright.” Scripture tells us that the Spirit takes our simple prayer through the mediation of Jesus directly to our Heavenly Father. In the process, the Spirit apparently has the liberty and authority to reshape my prayer to conform to the will of God—in case it may need some editing—because Saint Paul reminds us that we really don't know how to pray (Romans 8:26-28).

Jesus said that one of the assignments of the Holy Spirit is “to bring things to our remembrance.” He may draw my thoughts here and there as I wait quietly listening to God. That is not necessarily a distraction—it is an exciting adventure! I call it “butterfly praying.” I allow Him to direct my prayers, like a butterfly, to light upon some specific person or need because God “knows the mind of the Spirit.” In fact, I may not even verbalize the prayer formally. The Holy Spirit may just flash someone's name into my consciousness. 

What’s in a name? Everything! A name is a person’s unique identity on earth and also in heaven. I don’t think God has any problem sorting out the one “John Smith” for whom I am praying from possibly thousands of John Smiths who are alive now or who lived in past centuries.When I simply mention a person's name or his need mentally in my spirit, I believe the Spirit runs ahead to bring my request properly formed to Father God in the Name of Jesus. 

The Holy Spirit knows precisely what God wants to happen in His Kingdom so I want to be available and obediently attentive to listen and respond to His leading. His creative ways are endless. My availability and obedience are the key to unlock this process of prayer. I don’t have to be a super-spiritual person in order to sense the promptings of the Holy Spirit, nor does it require some mystical experience, vision, or ecstasy. I qualify to receive His impression simply because I’m His child, one of His chosen ones through whom He wants to carry out His will and dispense His blessings to others. Jesus said, “My sheep know My voice and they follow Me” (John 10:4). With experience I should become ever more sensitive to discern and heed God’s voice.  

The Holy Spirit wants to “hover over” (Hebrew: rachaph), move upon, brood over, birth something, to release His power upon a person or situation. What a privilege to cooperate with Him! As His ready instrument, I need to keep my own spirit open so He can direct my prayer precisely to His ordained target. Saint Paul calls it “praying without ceasing.” This is not a “mission impossible” or rigid obligation, but a step into the flowing river of God’s will to let His current take me to His destination. I should be “on call” and attentive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings not only during my scheduled prayer time but throughout my day and even in my unaware state while sleeping. 

There are times of urgent need when we do persevere in prayer with intensity, passion, and fervency. However, I think I’ve discovered an additional little secret treasure which Saint Paul tucked into his letters. Listen carefully: “[I] do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering [making mention, in other versions] you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:16). “For God is my witness…that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers” (Romans 1:9). “We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2). Philemon 4 echoes that expression. The brief, momentary lifting of Paul’s spirit and mind to the Lord on someone’s behalf seemed to be one of his prayer habits. 

Mentioning in prayer is like a butterfly lightly flitting from one flower (person) to another and spiritually pollinating each with God's mercy and help and encouragement and healing. Like a butterfly, I can disperse God’s power and blessings around. 

“Mention” is defined as “referring to briefly, incidentally speaking someone’s name, calling someone or something to mind, remembering.” It comes from mnemoneuo in Greek. Because God is a mind reader and a heart monitor, He knows our intentions already as well as the needs of those for whom we pray. We don’t have to spend time rehearsing every detail to Him. The mere mention of a name, or visualizing someone’s face, or a thought crossing our minds is intercession—a form of mental prayer. The oral shaping of words into audible speech is only one of many ways of praying. We can speak to God with our hearts silently. And we can listen to Him speak to us in silence.

The repentant thief from his cross asked Jesus, “Remember me [mention me] when You come into Your Kingdom.” When I need someone’s prayers, the very best I can ask of them is, “Please mention me to the Lord!”  I thank God for my "butterfly praying" friends!

No comments: