For 10 years I worked as a Property/Homeowners claim adjuster for a well-known insurance company. During my time as an adjuster I learned a very important skill – how to convey empathy. I found when I sincerely conveyed empathy, the customer would feel that I really cared, the claims process would go smoother and my customer service score would fair better.
Proud of the skill I had developed, I began to practice empathy when a friend would share their prayer request. Although a useful skill at work, I noticed empathy alone was of little value in times of ministry. Sure, I would say I’ll be praying for you and sometimes I would. Or if in that moment we were in the right environment to pray, my prayer was merely expressed empathy and anemic at best.
James 2:15-17 “For example, if a brother or sister in the faith is poorly clothed and hungry 16 and you leave them saying, “Good-bye. I hope you stay warm and have plenty to eat,” but you don’t provide them with a coat or even a cup of soup, what good is your faith?”
Sentimental expressions do not make the enemy shudder. Words, when not mixed with faith and coupled with a corresponding action, do not push back the forces of darkness.
When you ask for prayer, when things have become so bad that you are willing to let others know your personal business by way of a prayer request; you are not asking for empathy. You can get empathy anywhere, even those who do not share our faith can empathize, empathy is not a spiritual gift. What you are really asking, what our brothers and sisters are really asking, is for someone to join them in battle, for someone to come along side of them.
Deuteronomy 32:30 “How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight…”
This principle of multiplied strength when we come together is found several times in scripture: Leviticus 26:8 and Joshua 23:10.
Prayer request are about putting ten thousand to flight. Prayer request are about lifting someone’s arms up until the battle is won. In Exodus 17:12 we read the account of Moses lifting his staff in the air over his head on a hill top while the Israelites fought their enemy in the valley below, as you can imagine Moses’ arms began to grow tired and when he lowered his staff, the battle would turn in the enemy’s favor. Two men came along side Moses and lifted his arms up until the Israelites had won their battle.
It is time we begin to win some battles; it is time that prayer request becomes less about exercising empathy and more about multiplied strength.