It’s hard to know how to pray in the middle of a difficult situation. When my friend was in hospice, I wish I had a book like I’m Praying for You to point me to the freedom of Scripture and remind me that prayer is not primarily about us—our faith, our power or ability, even our circumstances. I’m Praying for You is a helpful reminder to keep praying through suffering because the struggle is part of a greater opportunity and is a chapter in a much bigger story.
A few years ago, a friend of mine died of cancer. He was a young dad with immense faith in Jesus, and some of his final words were a request to tell everyone he maintained his belief that God was good. But in the last days of my friend’s life, a visitor came into his hospice room and prayed over his unconscious body, saying repeatedly that there would be complete healing if my friend just had more faith.
That prayer was both wrong and hurtful. But what was the right way to pray in that situation? Is there a way to pray for relief from suffering while still acknowledging God’s ultimate sovereignty? How do we keep praying when God doesn’t answer in ways we desperately want?
Answers to those questions primarily reside in Scripture. And Scripture serves as the foundation for author and Bible teacher Nancy Guthrie’s new book I’m Praying for You: 40 Days of Praying the Bible for Someone Who is Suffering. The book is set up as a daily reading from the Bible, a brief devotional, and a prayer based on God’s Word.
As a mother who lost two young children, Guthrie writes with the wisdom of experience. The prayers she offers in I’m Praying for You can be roughly broken into three categories of requests we can pray for those who are suffering: glory to God, open hearts, and changed circumstances.
Glory to God
When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, his response in the Lord’s Prayer begins by glorifying God, both praising his name and acknowledging the sovereignty of his will. I’m Praying for You starts the same way. The first prayer in the book asks not that suffering will end but that through suffering “the work of God will be displayed in your life.”
Part of the beauty of our faith is the freedom we have to find purpose and meaning outside of ourselves and our immediate circumstances in bringing glory and praise to God. One of the greatest strengths of Guthrie’s book is how she helps readers pray about more than immediate circumstances, using Scripture to seek God’s glory. On Day 25, the prayer focuses on how suffering can “bring honor to the name of Jesus.” On Day 28, the focus is how “the genuineness of your faith will result in glory to Jesus.”
I’m Praying for You also includes prayers of submission to God’s will, which is a form of praise that can glorify God by acknowledging he knows and controls more than we do.