I'd be lying if I claimed to be an expert on prayer. While it's natural for me to shoot up prayers for my friends' and family's health or progress in school or work, I know enough about God to realize this isn't all he desires when he invites me to carry my loved ones to him in prayer.
As I've begun connecting the things I readily pray about for the people in my life—their physical health, their success at school, their career advancement—with deeper, more eternal requests, my prayer life's become richer. And I've seen answers to my prayers beyond what I could have imagined! The following three shifts in the way I pray for my loved ones have deepened my prayer life and my understanding of God's higher ways.
From Physical Growth to Spiritual Growth
Although I'm not a parent, many of my close friends are. Some of them, such as my friend Nina and her husband, Craig, have taught me a great deal about how to pray for the growing-up people in my life.
Craig entered their marriage with two teenage children from a previous marriage, and together Nina and Craig adopted two children from Russia (a prayer odyssey in itself). Since the first days of their marriage, this couple has prayed regularly for their family. In fact, as parents to two active toddlers and two vibrant teens, they're quite practiced at it! But not only do they pray for their children's physical growth, they pray for their spiritual growth as well. Nina recalls one memorable answer to such a prayer for Craig's daughter Carrie.1