Prayer. As counselors, we notice that it is often a perplexing and difficult discipline for those we are seeking to help. Yet, right prayer is so crucial to a growing relationship with our God. Our own Lord was known for spending much time in prayer and we should be faithful to teach prayer to those who come to us for help. Below I’ve summarized five easy ways you could begin to use to teach your counselees to pray.
- Set an example. Start and end each counseling session with prayer. Make your prayers substantial and meaningful, not rote duplicates each session. Don’t rush through your prayers. Take stock of your own prayer life. Is it growing in intimacy with your Creator?
- Teach plainly that the Bible is “God talking to you”, and that prayer is, “You responding to God.” Give examples of how your counselee might read a passage of Scripture and then respond in prayer to God. Teach them to be completely honest before God saying things they might be thinking like, “Wow, God. I can’t believe that really happened! But you said it did. Help me believe.” Help them to practice every time they read Scripture to have a response to God.
- Give them a template to help them get outside of themselves in their prayer life. So often a person in distress has a very self-centric prayer life. While this is perfectly understandable and it is good to bring our requests before God, it is also extremely helpful (not to mention obeying the 2nd greatest commandment) to look beyond ourselves and focus on the needs of others. I give my counselees a simple 5-day plan as follows:
- Monday-pray for extended family (pray for nuclear family daily), aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
- Tuesday-pray for saved friends, people in your local church family.
- Wednesday- pray for your pastors and deacons, for various church ministries.
- Thursday-pray for the lost, your neighbors, missions.
- Friday-pray for those in government, the president and all public servants, and for persecuted believers around the world. There are some great websites to facilitate this: American Family Assoc. (afa.net), and Open Doors USA (opendoorsusa.org) are a couple to get you started.
- Help them understand that while “multi-tasking prayer” is a good thing, that is, praying as they drive, shower and go about their day; “single-tasking’ prayer is essential to developing a close walk with God. Jesus himself “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Lk 5:16
- Finally, hold them accountable. Prayer is hard work. They need to know that you will be asking them about their prayer this week. Give them a sheet of paper with the template on it and enough blank space for them to write down what they prayed.
Finally, I invite you to respond to this blog post with your own ideas of how you have encouraged your counselees to pray.