"I'll pray for you."
“How can I pray for you?” This is perhaps THE most important question we can be asking ourselves, as we live our life together. Even if we don’t overtly ask the question, if this question is guiding our thoughts, concerns and other questions to each other, we will inevitably be steered by the Spirit to the most important priorities in life.
IF, that is, we rightly define the word “for”. “Of course I know what ‘for’ means,” you say. Yes, but in English there are at least two ways to use the word “for”. The most common way we translate the phrase is “I will ask God FOR the thing you desire.” This is not wrong; we should do this. The danger, however, is that we idol-factories are so often unaware of the god-replacements that embed themselves inside our desires. We ask for resolution for trouble at our job, for instance, because we find rest and peace not in God but in our job. We are, in that moment, asking God to feed and support and solidify our preferred replacement for Him. Prayer can become muddied that way.
The Lord’s Prayer provides our way forward. You’ll remember that, after the preamble, there are two sets of three “asks”:
Preamble: Our heavenly Father,
1) Hallow your name
2) Enlarge your kingdom
3) Cause your will to be done
1) Provide us what we need
2) Forgive us our sins
3) Deliver us from evil
One of the most important things to see in this prayer is the pronouns, and their order. Your, your, your . . . Us, us, us. Our way forward is for the Lord’s Prayer to inform not only our own praying for ourselves, but to inform our very thoughts in our relationships with each other. If we would, our primary thoughts and questions for each other would not begin with us, but with God, with HIS interests, not our own.
Much to say about this, but I will limit further comment to this: this is good, and best, because God’s interests are in fact what is in our best interests - ourselves and our friends. They are the same thing. If we would be asking ourselves, “How can God’s name be further hallowed in you, and through you, and His kingdom enlarged and His will done, in you and through you?”, this would change everything. Then we would be praying for each other the very things that would rend the heavens and rain down upon ourselves God, our life.