Each week, I have the opportunity to pray for other members of my small group. When it comes time to pray, I always take a deep breath and ask myself the following question: "Am I about to pray a nice, rehearsed prayer, or do I know without a doubt that I'm about to pray something God has given me that will be powerful?"
This stops me cold most of the time. My head is often filled with trite thoughts and earthly advice given in the form of a prayer for a person, and that's the last thing they need! So, I hold back and ask God to tell me how to pray for them. If I don't hear anything, I remain silent.
Hearing God First
When I do hear God's prompting, I go ahead and pray aloud or share what I need to share with the person. If you don't know the difference between your own voice and God's, just remember that when God give you the words, it's powerful. You'll know it, the group will know it, and the person receiving the words will know it.
It's also important that you remember to speak or pray the truth in love. Often, I know exactly what God would want to say to a person, but my attitude toward him or her is not right, and it would only come out as a harsh criticism or condemnation. In these instances, I don't share; I ask God to speak to the person directly and use others who can deliver the message in love.
About once a month, I hear God say to me, "Someone has a word of encouragement for this person, but it's not you." I'm always faithful to risk telling our small group that I believe someone has a word of encouragement for the person, but is holding back. In most cases, this is true. Someone has something powerful to share or pray over the person in need, but ...