The barriers to prayer in odd places

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, August 1, 2019


Religion Columnist

Last week, I challenged you to break out of your comfort zone and pray whenever the opportunity presents itself. You may find yourself on the phone, in a restaurant or in a department store.  This week I want to address some of the barriers to actually stepping out of your comfort zone, and letting God use you to pray with people. 

Email newsletter signup

The first barrier is faith, to believe that God can, and will, use you to change people’s lives through prayer. There is a wonderful story in Acts 12 where Peter is in prison while the disciples in Jerusalem are praying for his release. God sends an angel to work a miracle to put all the guards to sleep, and open all the doors, and Peter just walks out of a highly protected Roman prison. When he knocks on the door of the home where they are praying for his release, a servant announces Peter is at the front door.  The disciples say she is crazy.  They find out she is not crazy, and there is power in prayer. 

All through Jesus’ ministry he spoke of the importance to have faith — to see God’s mighty hand at work.  He said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).  Jesus wants you to know that through the power of the Holy Spirit, God can and will do miracles through your faith.

The next barrier is believing that you can say the right prayer with the right words. Simply put, there is no right prayer with the right words. You ask the person, “May I pray with you.” Only once in over three decades of ministry has anyone said no — including a fair number of atheists. Then start with something simple like, “Dear Lord, I pray for my friend. Heal her/him. Amen.” 

Once you get started with the first line many other words will probably come to mind, and you can pray those as well.  Jesus says, “The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them” (Luke 12:12).  Whether you sound good or not borders on arrogance, and God doesn’t care about how it sounds. The other person doesn’t care about how it sounds either. They are just so grateful that someone has the courage to lift them up in prayer. Every word you say will sound like the voice of an angel to them.

One last word of encouragement about finding the right words. When in doubt pray the Lord’s Prayer.  This is a powerful prayer that changes everything in the difficult situations of life. Invite the person to join you if they know the prayer, and then start praying, “Our Father, who art in heaven…”  God will take care of the rest. 

Finally, the biggest barrier will probably be the desire to step out of your comfort zone and be used by God to change someone’s life through prayer. Most Christians have decided this is the preacher’s job, and they should just stay at a safe distance from all this “faith in action” stuff. Besides, who wants to step out of their comfort zone?  Embarrassment, ridicule or rejection could occur. Our country needs more disciples who are tired of practicing their faith in their comfort zone. 

Also, Jesus disagrees completely with this attitude of staying in one’s comfort zone.  He wants to make disciples of all of us, and part of that training includes praying wherever he needs you to pray. Instead, we need to get excited about being used by God to change people’s lives. There are few things more meaningful in life then to find yourself in a place where a prayer seems needed; volunteering the needed prayer and then seeing God change everything.  I hope you will decide today to have the desire to pray with people whenever and wherever a prayer is needed.

Do you believe in the power of prayer?  Do you believe the Holy Spirit can give you the prayer to pray when needed?  Do you have the desire to be used by God to help someone who needs a prayer?  On this last question, you will know if you answered yes if you start praying this prayer, “Dear Lord, send me to an odd place where I can pray with someone in need.”

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles go to