I was in a meeting yesterday morning with my colleagues in the department of religion at Vanguard University. The meeting began with a brief but important season of spiritual centering. During this time requests for prayer were solicited. Now there happens to be an issue in the life of a loved one that I’m personally praying about with a good deal of consistency and fervency. But the folks around this table (about 13 of us including staff) had already been asked to pray for some really heavy, life-and-death matters. So I sat there wondering to myself: “Should I bring up the less serious but still significant issue that I’ve been so concerned about?”

I suspect that the dynamic I just described happens a lot during group “prayer times.” People wonder whether they should go ahead and ask the group to pray about an issue that’s on their minds, or just keep quiet and continue to pray in a solo manner. 

On the one hand, I appreciate it when group members refrain from asking the rest of us to pray about just everything that occurs to them. On the other hand, if a matter is genuinely important–to the point that it is productive of anxiety in the life of the group member–then I say … share it! Let us help you take that burden to our loving heavenly Father in prayer.

In my previous life as a pastor, I used to encourage church members to recognize that when it comes to the prayer, the principle presented in Scripture is … the more the better. This principle is articulated in the pages of the Bible in three main ways. First, we have Jesus’ teaching that we should never give up on prayer (e.g., Luke 11:5-10). Second, we have the Apostle Paul encouraging us to pray as much as possible (e.g., Rom 12:2; Eph 6:18; Phil 4:6; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:17). Third, we have the Apostle Paul’s repeated requests for prayer himself (e.g., Rom 15:30-32; Eph 6:19-20; Col 4:3-4; 1 Thess 5:25; 2 Thess 1:11; 3:1-2).   

Had you ever focused on that last set of biblical passages–the ones that contain Paul’s repeated requests for prayer for himself? It seems obvious to me that Paul believed that, all things being equal, it was a good thing to have as many people as possible praying for him and his ministry team. In other words … the more the better.

So, my encouragement to anyone reading these words is this: First, don’t stop praying about anything that’s important to you, especially if it is producing anxiety in your heart. You have a loving heavenly Father who cares for you and who wants to make a difference in your life, not only in the age to come, but here and now as well. Second, when it comes to group prayer times and whether or not we should share what’s on our heart with the rest of the group, maybe our default should be to share rather than not to because … the more people we have praying with us the better.

Oh, and by the way, I did ask my colleagues to pray about the issue that I’ve been concerned about. It feels good to have spiritual friends who will sense the burden of your heart and compassionately give voice to it in prayer on your behalf. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do now.

Something to think about.