A Short, but Unforgettable, Lesson on Prayer

The cross at Dry Creek Camp’s Prayer Garden.

Pray One for Another


“. . . And pray one for another.” (James 5:16)

One of my favorite stories concerning prayer is told by my lifelong friend, Della Mercer. She faithfully taught the preschoolers at our church for years. Once at the end of a lesson on prayer, she wanted to finish the lesson by having the children pray. Della stated to the class of five-year-olds, who were sitting in a circle, “Now, we are going to go around the circle and pray for each other.”

Her plan was to let the child on her right begin and allow each child around the circle to utter a short “sentence prayer.”

The first child to her right was Charlie Taylor. Instead of sitting in his chair and saying a short prayer, he got up and began going to each child seated in the circle. As he would put his hand on each of their shoulders, he then prayed with, and for, each child.

As Della watched in amusement, Charlie “went around the circle” praying for each one by name. Della said it was the most beautiful illustration of caring and praying she’d ever seen. Charlie physically did what we should be doing: going to others, showing them we care by putting a hand on their shoulder, and praying with them.

Charlie was modeling what is called intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is praying to God for people and their needs.

I’ve been guilty of making this statement to folks experiencing tragedy, tough times, or trials, “Well, all I can do is pray for you.”

I’ve since learned that the greatest thing we can do is pray. A quote from Henri Noewen says it so well,

“There is nothing we can do better than praying by name to God for others. Nothing unleashes the power of God like the prayer of His people.”

God has taught me and is continuing to teach me, a great deal about this. So often folks come to us and say, “Will you pray for me about something?” As they share their burden, we promise to pray for them. However, if we aren’t careful, in the midst of our busy lives, we tend to forget about them and their problem or needs.

God has convicted me about this. What I am learning to do is to simply stop right there and pray with them. This ministers to them and God always honors heart-felt prayer.

That is true intercessory prayer.

Let’s follow Charlie Taylor’s example by getting up, going to others, showing them we care, and most importantly—praying with, and for, them.



“The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is praying. It is not the only thing, but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer, but I mean those people who take time to pray.”

  • -S. D. Gordon
  • A circle of prayer. There is great power in unified prayer. A scene from a Sturgis Bike Rally.

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