What Not To Do If Someone Asks You For Prayer

In our walk with the Lord, eventually someone will approach us and ask if we would pray for them or someone they know. Personally, I consider it an honor to be asked; however, not everyone shares my sentiment. There as some that do not have a prayerful life and prayer is something that does not come easy for them. If someone asks you for prayer, what do you do? Do you sympathize with him or her and pray, or do you…

  • offer to pray but do not?
  • begin to recite scripture after scripture?
  • begin to preach about the healing power of the blood of Jesus?
  • tell them that if they’re sick, it’s because they have little or no faith?
  • tell them to rebuke it or not to claim it?
  • give them a pep talk and tell them that they can overcome it?
  • begin to tell them of your own hardships?

A few of us are guilty of doing some or even all of the above, and some may have hurt others in the way we have responded. I like to believe that the majority of Christians do not mean to hurt or offend anyone but, nonetheless, people do get hurt because of the carelessness of our words. If we stop to think for a moment and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, we can avoid many misunderstandings. Let us remember that what we say or do reflects on us as Christians, and the day will come when we will all have to give an account to God of everything we have said and done.

Therefore, if you have answered yes to any of the above, this hub is for you.

Do you offer to pray but do not?

If someone has asked you for prayer and you offer to pray but do not, you are being dishonest and untrustworthy.

Now let us reflect on the promises of God for a moment. If you have read your Bible, you will know of the promises God made to us. The covenants He made with man, the promise to send His only begotten son, and of our salvation through Him.

Now imagine God not keeping His promises, and imagine Jesus not coming to earth to redeem us. What would become of sinful man then? That would make God a liar and untrustworthy. He will be undeserving of our faith, would He not?

However, God does what He says He will do. He has kept all His promises and will continue to keep them (Num 23:19). If we are made in His image, then we are to be like Him. Do not say you are going to do something and then do not.

If you are sympathetic and are burdened to pray for that person, do so. Some people like to pray for others on the spot because either they want to satisfy the need of that person right there or they do not want to forget later. Some people will keep a prayer list and write the request on their list. It does not matter when or how you pray. There is no right or wrong way, as long as it comes from the heart.

However, if you are not moved to pray for that person, please do not offer to do so or make promises you cannot keep or will not keep (Mat 5:33-37). God sees what is in our hearts and what comes out of our mouths. If you do not want to offend them or hurt their feelings, tell them that you will ask your church if they will place his or her name in their prayer list and then do so.

Do you begin to recite scriptures?

There is nothing wrong with reciting Bible verses. However, do you think this is a substitute for your love and concern? We can point people to the right scriptures in the Bible when they are hurting but when we do, we may come across as being insensitive and unsympathetic. How is that? You ask. Well, we will seem uncaring and uninvolved in their cares. In other words, it will look like we are sending them packing with enough scriptures to let them figure it out on their own because we are too busy with our own problems.

Once, I e-mailed some friends to pray for this situation in my life. A few responded with immediate e-mail prayers, while others showed their concern and offered to pray. However, one friend e-mails me back with about ten Bible verses and nothing else in the e-mail. I thought that was cold; I know how to look up scriptures. It was as if he was saying "here you go, get over it!"

Most of the time people just want to know that someone cares and is listening to them. I feel we should not use Bible verses in lieu of the love Jesus commanded us to give one another because it would seem we are being insensitive and dismissive of the needs of others.

Do you begin to preach about the healing power of the blood of Jesus?

If you are going to talk to another Christian, who has been walking with the Lord for a while, about the healing power of the blood of Jesus and how we can overcome all things through Christ, then you are preaching to the choir.

If you are professing this to a baby Christian or someone who does not know the Lord very well, then you are going to either overwhelm them or come across as being insensitive and overbearing. Why? Because a baby Christian has to start with milk first and then meat.

For someone who does not know the Lord well, you will come across as if you are preaching to them, and this will turn them off to God. I am not saying that it is wrong to speak of the healing power of the blood of Jesus, however, sometimes a simple heartfelt “I will pray for you” is sufficient; it could mean the world to someone needing to hear just that. We can teach them about our awesome God and His redeeming blood later, after they see God in us first.

Do you tell them that if they are sick, it’s because they have little or no faith?

I remember a time when I was young in the Lord and met up with a Christian friend I had not seen in a while. We began to talk about what had transpired since we last saw each other. During our conversation, I asked her if she would pray for a chronic illness I had.

The words that came out of her mouth felt as a severe judgment for my seemingly lack of faith. She said to me that if I had faith, sickness would not be in my body. Ouch! This is something you should never, ever tell another person! Who is to say how much faith is in them? Only God knows what's in their heart, and He is the only one that can pass judgment. Even if a person is weak in faith, we are not to pass judgment on anyone, Romans 14:1 says, "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters."

After our meeting, I was very disheartened and asked God to forgive me for lacking in faith, convinced that God was displeased with me and it was the reason why I was not healed. I know better now and I have forgiven my friend since, but I never forgot the words she spoke over me. Sadly, a couple of years later, I found out this friend became ill with thyroid disease, and I prayed for her.

Friend, if you have been blessed with health and never been sick a day in your life, other than minor things, you are not to pass judgment on those who suffer life-long illness or sickness. You do not know what this person is going through. People are going to have trouble in this world and it does not mean it's because they are lacking in faith. Jesus warned us in John 16:33 “in this world you will have trouble.”

Like my friend, there are those who believe that all sickness can be healed and if people are not being healed, it is because there is something wrong with that person’s faith or there is sin in their lives. This belief is not only wrong but ignorant.

If all sickness can be healed, then why are there so many good faithful Christians walking around sick? Is it because of sin? But are we not all sinners?

You say the Bible says “and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa 53:10). Here is another verse taken out of context and misinterpreted. This verse is not talking about physical healing but about sin. See I Petter 2:24 for a clear explanation of Isaiah 53:10. If we are all to be physically healed of sickness, then Jesus’ atonement on the cross was incomplete because there are still many Christians walking around sick.

A few years back, my mother began to attend a church my sister attended. My mother became very ill and on several occasions, the pastor and others laid hands on my mother and prayed for her healing. In one of their prayer meetings, the pastor told my mother she was completely healed. My mother truly believed she was healed; my mother was not healed. A few months after telling her that, my mother passed away from her illness at the young age of sixty-eight. I do not blame God for this but on the ignorance of people and their erroneous beliefs when it comes to the Word of God.

Therefore, do not promise anyone that they “are healed” when you pray for them. We do not know the will of God for that person and we should be careful of what we say. The truth is that many are divinely healed and many are not but to those that do not get healed, the Lord will give them the grace and the peace to overcome it because Jesus also said “but take heart! I have overcome the world." Jesus did not say I have been spared the rejection, the pain and the agony I will endure; He said I have overcome it. He had victory over it. The world did not deter Him from the will of God; neither sickness can deter you from the will of God.

Do you tell them to “rebuke it”

or not to “claim it?”

There was a time in my early walk with the Lord when I picked up alot on the way modern Christians believed and talked. We would use phrases like “rebuke it!” or “don’t claim it!” Today many Christians still use these phrases as a shield against an impending unforeseen evil that is ready to pounce on them at the mere utterance of a negative word.

I do agree that the Bible teaches us to rebuke unrighteousness and not to speak negatively; however, many have taken the teachings of the Bible completely out of context. The erroneous teachings in many of today’s churches have filled the hearts of Christians with fear and superstition. When fear takes over, we are paralyzed and imprisoned.

I am not saying we are to have free reign of our words because there is power in our words. What I am saying is that we should not allow the devil to deceive us and paralyze us with fear because of erroneous beliefs. Remember fear comes from him, not God. We are to be alert and prepared but not paralyzed with fear, and we are to be knowledgeable of the Word of God and seek understanding from the Holy Spirit.

When a person approaches you and asks for prayer because they have a sickness or a problem, they are not “claiming it.” They already have it and need your help. I have seen people stop other people mid-sentence telling them “don’t claim it.” How is the person going to ask you for your support or prayer if you will not let them finish what they are saying? The same goes for “rebuking” a problem or sickness. How is that going to help the person who is seeking help? Let’s get real here. Instead, let us pray for that person, and show them our love and give them our support.

Do you give them a pep talk and tell them that they can overcome it?

It is understandable that each of us is given different gifts and exhorting the body of Christ is a gift that not everyone possesses. The apostle Paul is an excellent example of having this gift. However, there is a big difference between exhortation and edification of the body of Christ and being plain flippant and rude.

Not everyone has the gift of exhortation but having sympathy for someone does not require any special gift; it only requires a willing heart. When we give the person a quick fix-it-all statement by casually telling them it’s ok and they can overcome their problem, you are trivializing their problem and are being indifferent. Instead, we need to take a moment to listen to them and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.

A while back, I attended a woman’s Bible meeting at a home. At the end of the meeting, the group leader asked if anyone had prayer requests, being the newbie in the group, she looked at me hinting I could go first. I was young in the Lord then, so I began to tell them of a very serious concern I had. One woman interrupted me and said something like, “You’ll be fine. When you get to be as old as us in your walk with Christ, that stuff won’t even bother you anymore, you’ll see!”

Although she did not intend to be hurtful, she was. She not only trivialized and dismissed my concern but was condescending as well. If she had allowed the Holy Spirit to guide her words, she would have not made those remarks and instead she would have shown me the love of God.

Do you begin to tell them of your own hardships?

I feel we have all been guilty of this at one time or other. Not that we do it intentionally, however, we have done it nonetheless. We begin to compare their problems with our problems and try to outdo theirs because our problems are bigger. Or we try to use our past as an example and give them advice on how to handle theirs. The other person ends up shot down before they had time to finish and suddenly, they are left overwhelmed with not only their problems but yours as well.

The key word here is listening. Can we put our own problems aside for one moment and stop to listen to someone else’s? Have we become so insensitive and narcissistic that we cannot see beyond ourselves?

Over the years, I have seen the hearts of many Christians become hardened over other peoples’ suffering. People have become so focused on their own problems that they forget Jesus’ greatest commandment, “love one another” (John 13: 34-35). If you injure one hand, wouldn’t the other hand take over to help the injured hand? Because we belong to the body of Christ, we should always pray and help one another.

Sometimes just letting someone know that you care and are standing by them is enough. There is so much power in our words, and in the same way our words can bring strife and destruction, it can also edify and bring healing to our spirit.

I believe miracles do happen and people can be healed, but that is God’s decision and not the decision of people. The Bible teaches us many wonderful things about praying and it is when we come in agreement and in one accord do we see the power of God at work and miracles happen. For the Lord says “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mat 18:20).

Therefore, I part with this, if you are going to use any of the responses I mentioned above, I urge you to think before opening your mouth and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you.

Let us not forsake anyone when we are asked for prayer or help. Even if we have never been through what they are going through, and do not know what to say, be led by the love of Christ in you and let them know you care.

In Christ’s love.


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Comments 28 comments

Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

I found your article informative, enlightening and truthful. I am sure many will benefit from it, as I have.

Thanks for sharing.


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Dexter, thank you for reading and being the first to comment. I am humbled and happy to hear that you liked my hub. God bless you!


FriendofTruth profile image

FriendofTruth 5 years ago from Michigan

I thank the LORD for the Holy Spirit because He reminds us of when we tell people that we will pray for them, and it is then up to us to do what we said we would do. It also helps to let Him guide you in your prayers for them.


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

FriendofTruth, thank you for stopping by and commenting. Christians are not perfect and we do forget to pray when we offer, but like you say, the Holy Spirit knows our hearts and reminds us. And yes, the Holy Spirit does help us when we pray, thank God for this wonderful counselor. God bless!


FaithDream profile image

FaithDream 5 years ago from (Midwest) USA

This is an excellent hub. I applaud you for tackling this subject. As Christians we are being watched and one person can cause a ripple effect in the faith of others.

I found your article very informative and true.

Great job.

God Bless.


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

FaithDream, thank you for your uplifting words. We are all guilty in some form or another of doing these things; we are not perfect, but I felt compelled to write about this because of what I and others have experienced. To some prayer may be insignificant but to others it is a great deal; it can mean the difference between life and death. God sees prayer in His children as a way of communication. So we should never forsake prayer in our lives. Thank you for commenting. God bless!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

You've shared some excellent points that Christians need to pray about and keep in mind.

I find that it is best to immediately pray with someone in need if at all possible, and if not possible to quickly pray and ask the Lord to help me to remember to pray for that need in the coming days for without His help I might forget even important things.

Prayer is such a privilege, but too many of us simply do not believe what God says about it or there would more of it going on! More of us would be searching out what the Scriptures say about prayer and we would be stating our causes at the throne of grace according to the Word of God.

Thanks for helping us stop and think about prayer!


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

RTalloni,

First let me thank your stoppping by and commenting. I cannot agree with you more when you said "Prayer is such a privilege, but too many of us simply do not believe what God says about it or there would more of it going on! More of us would be searching out what the Scriptures say about prayer and we would be stating our causes at the throne of grace according to the Word of God." AMEN!

Prayer is such a wonderful way to communicate with our maker. He brings us to new heights when we pray; there is such intimacy with God when we do so that I can't understand how some do not make it part of their daily lives. I pray throughout the day, every day and I feel priviliged, as you said, when I'm asked to pray for others. Blessings to you!


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota

I have found myself on both ends of your donts. The most offensive one to me personally is the response of "don't claim it" how am I supposed to share what is going on?

I do like to pray for anyone who would ask and I usually do right then and there because I find that when I offer to pray I often forget later.

I do have to say though that I had a relationship with a friend who had a lot of self created issues. I spent about 10 years "Listening" and praying and helping in non judgemental ways. I must admit I have wearied a bit with the soft approach and bust out in lecture on occasion. Our relationship has distanced greatly and I now just pray from a distance.

You offer some excellent advice. I hope many read.


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Tamarajo,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. We are all guilty of the don’ts, but we can learn from our mistakes. The "don't claim it" got to me so bad, that one day I went off on a sister because it was getting to be ridiculous; I couldn't even talk to her. I still do love her though :)

Sometimes there are very needy people that will wear out the holiest of saints. Their lives are a constant problem and they have very negative attitudes. They latch on to someone who will listen, then they never let go. It does get annoying. I had a friend like that and I did the same thing you did. She didn't take it well when one day I bluntly told her to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT ALREADY and stop her constant complaining, the choice was hers. There is nothing wrong with what you did. Just because they are our friends, they shouldn't take advantage of us. A little truth can do a lot of good even if it hurts. God bless!


Becky Puetz profile image

Becky Puetz 5 years ago from Oklahoma

Good points to make here. Great Hub!


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Becky, Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Blessings!


Debradoo profile image

Debradoo 5 years ago from Cocoa, Florida

Relying on the Holy Spirit for what to say or do and being careful how we use our words and listening to get a 'feel' for how another Christian uses their own words, will give us better insight into how to handle most of these situations. This list is wonderful as we have all hurt another (unintentionally) and have been hurt by a well meaning listener.


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Debradoo,

Thanks for reading and commenting.

You summed it up very well when you said "Relying on the Holy Spirit for what to say or do and being careful how we use our words and listening to get a 'feel' for how another Christian uses their own words, will give us better insight into how to handle most of these situations." Very wise words.

God bless!


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

This is a beautiful and enlightening Hub. I have experienced all of the points you brought out. Many people promise to pray but don't. Oh, they intend to pray but get busy. And sometimes even the person requesting prayer is startled when I begin to pray right then. I once had a lady say she didn't have time right then!

And telling someone not to claim it has become superstition to many. Failure to acknowledge is dangerous. It is like saying "I claim Satan does not exist" so he doesn't.

I am saddened that your mother's illness was dismissed that way. No one can claim healing for another.

You have some great points of interest in this Hub and I feel many of them are being used by the devil to discredit God and the Church. You did a wonderful job bring this to light.


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Hyphenbird,

Thank you for reading and commenting. People are funny sometimes. They don't know what they want, like the lady you prayed for right then said she didn't have time; then why ask for prayer? You were gracious enough to do so but it had to be on her terms? I guess she wasn't very concerned and should pray for her own problems when she has the time. We get it on both sides. There are those that don't like to pray for others and those who don't appreciate when we pray for them. Sometimes you can't win.

I'm glad you stopped by. God bless!


viveresperando profile image

viveresperando 5 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

I loved the way you handled your words in this hub! You write from you heart!


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Thank you viveresperando for stopping by to read and comment. I try to be very open and transparent when it comes to our Lord. God bless you!


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 5 years ago from North Carolina

Some of your "don'ts" might be quite appropriate in their place. (I'm thinking of the pep talk and the sharing of scriptures, certainly not the loveless rebuke for supposed lack of faith.) But certainly not as a substitute for prayer. If someone asks for prayer, pray! Some other kind of ministry might be the right thing to do next, or some time later, or not at all. Thanks for your reminder how hurtful it is to try to offer a substitute for prayer.


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

allpurposeguru,

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. A simple prayer and a loaned ear could possibly be a lifesaver. Yes, I agree, if someone asks you for prayer, pray. Blessings!


His princesz profile image

His princesz 5 years ago

Wonderful hub, voted up! :)

Thank you for sharing Faithful Daughter


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

His princesz,

Thank you for the vote and your comment. Glad you liked the hub. God bless!


justamber profile image

justamber 5 years ago

This hub has a bunch of good advice. What I like to do when people ask me to pray for them is to pray right then and there. That way I don't forget and they hear the prayer. :)


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Hi justamber,

Thanks for your comment. Like you, I also like to pray for people on the spot, but I ask them first if they are up to it at the moment. If they are not, I offer to keep them in my prayers. I found that if I pray for them right then and there, they are uplifted as they feel the love of Christ flow through them. It also shows them one cares. God bless!


klanguedoc profile image

klanguedoc 5 years ago from Canada

My prayers usually involve asking the Blessed Virgin to intercede on my behalf through her divine intercession. Sometimes I simply talk to God and ask him to take the problem I am having into His hands because it is too big to handle on my own. The prayers that really important are always answered; maybe not when I expect or how I expect them to be.


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Klanguedoc,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

The Bible says in Romans 8:26, 27, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will."

I try to surrender my requests, needs, and problems to the Almighty. Do I get my prayers answered? Not always, but He will always reveal why later. God bless!


Dubuquedogtrainer profile image

Dubuquedogtrainer 4 years ago from Dubuque, Iowa

Excellent hub! Voted up and sharing on my born again believer site on Facebook!


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 4 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Dubuquedogtrainer,

Thank you for the uplifting feedback, the vote, and for letting me know you are sharing this article in your Facebook account. May God continue to bless you and guide you in your ministry.

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