Do I Really Have to Pray for That? How to pray when you don’t agree

by Courtney Jacob

Praying in our brokenness

The diversity of God’s family is beautiful. In it, we witness abundant expressions of God’s grace, see a glimpse of God’s eternal kingdom, and experience new perspectives. But here in our broken world, that same diversity can also cause disagreement, discord, and miscommunication, even among God’s people.

The diversity of thought and perspectives among Christians can make it difficult to pray in agreement with some prayer requests or intercede on behalf of views or perspectives we don’t agree with. In moments when I’ve struggled to pray for a particular request, I’ve had to intentionally remind myself that the person requesting prayer is a fellow child of God. These moments have also caused me to pause and ponder: How do we pray for a request we don’t agree with, don’t understand, or wish we had more context for?

Here are some of conclusions I’ve come to in my prayerful reflection:

Limit Your Bias with a Humble Heart

Ask the Lord to remove your bias. By beginning here, we confess our own human tendencies toward judgment and letting our own experience prejudice our perceptions of others and their experiences.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Recognize what you are feeling and what you don’t know. Intercession extends from your relationship and prayer life with God. Since prayer is a conversation with God, it’s natural to tell him your feelings about and struggles with a request as part of the prayer itself. “Lord, I don’t know the situation, but this feels___ to me;” or “Lord, I don’t agree, but….” It may be that the Holy Spirit is prompting you to pray for something deeper and it may help you identify how you can pray for that particular request.

Pray with creativity

It’s okay not to pray for a request word-for-word. While you may find it impossible to pray for a prayer request as it’s stated, it’s always possible to pray for situations and the people involved in them. Pray for the relationships. Identify the emotions you recognize in the request and pray appropriately for God’s comfort, clarity, and peace. Pray for strength of faith. Pray for God’s wisdom or for him to cultivate a heart after his own heart. Pray for God to draw people to himself or to reveal his will.

Pray God’s Word

Pray scripture. I continue to learn how powerful it is to pray scripture over a person. When we pray scripture, for example by inserting a person’s name into a passage, we’re praying the Word of God over them. It is always in accordance with God’s will and helps eliminate our human attempts to manipulate God or another person in our prayers.

Praying for each other is a spiritual exercise we should not give up easily. May these strategies help you continue this important work and continue to be a prayer warrior, even when you don’t agree with a particular prayer request.