Lift Up in Prayer

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Lift Up in Prayer: To pray for someone, most often in a group setting. (Example: Lord we just lift Sarah up to you tonight…)

If you think of it like this, it’s actually quite lovely: they are coming around you, these people who are praying. You are not strong enough to bring yourself to God, weighed down as you are with all of this sadness. So they come close enough to put their arms beneath you. Bend from the knees. Lift.

But then, inevitably, there is the drop.

The Bible Study ends. The paper cups are dropped in the garbage cans, a little cold coffee still in the bottom. There is some small talk as you shuffle out to your cars, to reality, to the world beyond where you will be expected to haul yourself through your day alone.

When you leave this moment, this Bible study, the Christians don’t say, “I’ll be lifting you up in prayer.” It’s as if they know that such a statement would be dishonest. We are only human beings after all. We cannot hold each other up indefinitely.

They say instead “I’ll be praying for you.” A slight shift in wording, a small movement toward vagueness.

Here is another image: ballet dancers.

He lifts her and it is seamless, beautiful. For a moment, she is suspended in the air by only the palm of his hand. But when he sets her down, he doesn’t let go of her. They are still dancing, still in tune with one another, still moving as one.

She is held even when she is not lifted.

This is the truest way I can think to describe it. The prayers we say for one another are an undeniable, necessary, beautiful part of it. But after we raise our heads, clear our throats, turn out the lights in the church foyer, we are still moving through life together.

I am still in this with you. There is still, always, this dance.

5 thoughts on “Lift Up in Prayer

  1. I have to admit that I really enjoyed the picture you painted of the dance. Not sure why but it speaks to me. But, I have to confess that my first thought at “Father, we just want to lift up…to you…” was the fact that, for many, it’s like getting divine approval to gossip.

    1. I hear you. I actually wrote a post on that too. I think it’s called “Prayer Request.” You can find it in the Glossary of Terms.

  2. That’s a beautiful image. Until the past year or so, I used the “lifting up” language, but it occurred to me that by saying that I might have been giving the impression that I was the strong one while the other person was weak, and I don’t really feel that strong spiritually sometimes. Now, when I tell people I’m praying for them, I say I’m holding them close in prayer. I want them to know they are in my heart and my thoughts and that spiritually I’m right there with them, full of struggle and doubt and, sometimes, absolute bafflement, but learning to trust and lean on God anyway.

  3. I must admit I love this article and I agree that some also use prayer requests for a divine excuse to gossip. However in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 it says this:
    Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

    In prayer, you aren’t strong enough to fix that persons prayer request but you are acknowledging that God is and you are lifting it to Him!! The other person is admitting through their prayer request that they can’t do it alone. They aren’t strong enough!! You lift them up to Him who is more than qualified to be strong enough because when we are weak, often times our sinful nature takes over and wants to find the answer in everything else but the one who is always the answer. It’s not that you are better than them in that moment, or stronger than them in any way, it’s just you are that second person that Ecclesiastes is talking about 🙂

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