The Danger Behind The Unspoken Prayer Request
We’ve all been there: it’s towards the end of small group, and the leader asks if there are any prayer requests. One lady asks for healing for her sick child, another asks for wisdom about a situation at work, and then the room gets quiet. “Well, I have something. It’s sort of an unspoken request. I am not at liberty to share any details, but please be in prayer for a dear friend. I won’t share their name, as I think some of you might know who I’m talking about. God knows the specifics.”
We’ve all experienced the infamous “unspoken” prayer request. You may have even been the one asking for prayers about your unspoken request – I know I’m guilty of this from time to time. And I get it, I really do. Life is messy, and sometimes you feel like your problems involve a lot of other people, and it isn’t your job to share their private struggles, even when it effects you. Here are a few things to consider before sharing an unspoken request:
Be aware of your audience
If you’re not comfortable sharing at least some context for your request, maybe this isn’t the right setting. If it is sensitive information, or information you feel isn’t yours to share – reach out to those 2 or 3 close people in your life, or talk to your pastor. The power of prayer doesn’t come from the number of people praying – it comes from the Holy Spirit, and genuine faith that intercedes and pleads the cause of loved ones before the throne of God.
You’re robbing fellow Christians of the opportunity to love you
Being a member of the body of Christ means that we are to joyously share the load of one another. How can we truly ease your burden when we have no clue what you’re lugging around in your heart and on your shoulders? While prayer is definitely a conversation of praise and petition to God, sharing these requests helps us build stronger relationships within our community of believers. When a single mom asks for prayer on how she is going to pay rent next month, it gives her community the opportunity to support her not only in the monetary sense (although also very much so in that sense), but emotionally and spiritually. Maybe you can’t pay the difference in rent, but you can see that this woman is stressed, and you can offer to babysit for an evening, or bring her and her kids a meal that she doesn’t have to cook.
By not truly being vulnerable and speaking out about your prayer requests, you are also robbing your community of the joy of answered prayer. Of course your friends and fellow believers will rejoice with you no matter what, even if the prayer request remains vague and mysterious, but how much more joyful would that victory be knowing that these people poured their hearts out before God on your behalf, and got to see every detail redeemed and every prayer answered? Sometimes it is easier to see the burden, rather than the opportunity. To us, the messy family drama seems too painful and involved to share, but to a friend, it seems like a struggle that they can help with. They can pray real, meaningful prayers, and they can hold you accountable for your part. And in the end – they can share in the joy and peace of whatever the outcome is.
What is your motivation for the unspoken request?
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8
Maybe you’re too scared to ask for what you really need, or what you want to have happen in your situation. That’s not to say that God is limited by our prayers not being spoken, but Jesus plainly tells us to ask. How can those interceding on your behalf, at your request, truly ask for what you need, if they don’t even have the slightest idea what they’re asking for?
Ultimately, It weakens relationships with other believers
Part of being in a healthy relationship is being able to open up and be vulnerable with all aspects of your life. Obviously there needs to be discretion – no one is asking you to stand in front of the church and air your dirty laundry – but you do need to find those 2 or 3 people that you are comfortable with, and trust that they want to spur you on to do good works in Christ. If you consistently dodge personal questions, or always seem to have an unspoken prayer request, it might seem like you do not trust anyone, or that you are distant and are unwilling to let other people get to know you.
Ultimately, it’s a personal decision. I’m not here to tell you to never ask for prayer on an unspoken request. Again, life is messy, time is short, and God really truly does know the details. I would encourage you to push past the pain and awkwardness and find a group of Christians who you can share everything with, and who trust you enough to share with you as well.