When we pray for close friends or family, we sometimes miss the mark. We think we know them and think we know exactly what they should be doing to have a better life. But I listened to a talk the other day that gave me some new insight about seriously helping people close to us. Three steps were mentioned. The first is to ask, “What is their biggest challenge?” Notice, it’s not “What’s our biggest challenge with them?”
Too often we look at other people’s problems from our own point of view and say things like, “I wish they would just do so and so and such and such and they would be just fine and get over that problem.” We think we have the perfect solutions for those we love. But what if we start looking at a problem from their point of view? Step into their shoes for a while. What is the biggest challenge they are facing? Is it that they are afraid of something? Is it that they aren’t mature enough to really understand a situation? Is it that they are overloaded with too many decisions to make? Is it that they’re not sure who they should trust?
There could be any number of reasons a person isn’t getting blessed results in their lives. The Bible tells us in Luke 6:31: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” When we want someone to help us with a problem, we want them to first try to understand our side, what we’re going through. We want them to lovingly help us, not just blast us with some rote simplistic answer and be gone. (I have to admit I’ve done this a time or two and been sorry after). So let’s think about how we would want to be talked to, how we would want to be treated if we had a challenge like theirs.
Often it’s just a matter of asking the person what they think their biggest challenge is. But sometimes people aren’t so transparent; they’d rather keep their problems private. Depending on how well we know the person, some things we could probably figure out, but if we don’t really know, the Lord can help us. “For thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men” (1 Kings 8:39).
The second question is: “What do they need?” Do they need money? Do they need a friend? Do they need a peaceful heart to figure out the situation? Once we have a pretty good idea of what their biggest challenge is, find out what they need.
Then the third question is one we ask the Lord: “What are You telling me to do?” Maybe He’ll just tell us to pray. Maybe He’ll tell us to do something in the physical. Personally, I think He often tells us to do something in the physical realm and we just don’t act fast enough and it slips by us, or we think it’s just our imagination. If we think He’s telling us to do something we’re uncomfortable with we can always ask Him about it. He’ll be glad to find a way to let us know it was really Him.
These three questions will help us, when we’re serious about helping someone else:
- What is their biggest challenge?
- What do they need?
- What is the Lord telling me to do?