In my Sunday school class several weeks ago, a fellow class member brought up the fact that we often keep our trials and tribulations from other church members.
Sometimes, we don’t want to drag others down with our burdens, preferring to uplift them with a positive attitude and encouraging words. After all, other’s lives are often far more difficult than our own.
What do we really have to worry about, compared to a person with a terminal illness, for example?
Perhaps privacy is a consideration. In general, I prefer not to share my woes with others, even with those whom I know would lovingly pray for me. I just don’t want to be asked week after week if a situation is improving, or how I’m feeling.
As well, I admit – I don’t want people to think less of me for admitting a weakness.
It’s interesting to me that we church-goers often seem to fall into one extreme or the other. Some ask for prayer every week, for everything from a hangnail to the sniffles. When I ask such people how they are doing, I gird my mental loins first: I know that the conversation will be long and one-sided, as they rattle off a list of ailments and complaints.
Others almost never ask for prayer. They are always “fine.”
Which is worse? Oversharing or undersharing?
Part of the answer is simple. As Christians, we know that we shouldn’t murmur and complain. Our speech is to be edifying to others and glorifying to God. There’s a difference between asking someone for prayer, and drowning them in a deluge of self-pity and complaints.
If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. – Proverbs 30:32
But Scripture never said that we should “bear our burdens alone, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Nope. Not in the Bible. That passage actually says,
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
In context, this passage refers to the burden of temptation. That fact makes me a bit squeamish, as it seems to indicate that we should share our sin struggles with others, that they might pray for us and encourage us.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. – James 5:16
Now, that would be an interesting prayer meeting.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men. – 1 Timothy 2:1-3
In that passage, Christ exhorts us to pray – even to intercede – for one another. But how can we do that if we don’t know how specifically to pray for each other?
Jesus spent His final hours before the Crucifixion praying in very specific ways for his disciples, and for believers yet to come (see John 17). The Apostle Paul frequently shared prayer requests, as well as his prayers for the recipients of his epistles.
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. – Ephesians 1:15-17
It’s apparent to me that I need to share more of my burdens with my fellow believers, rather than be always “fine.” I will always be a private person, but I should not let pride stop me from asking for prayer for a true need.
Who knows what blessings I would miss, if others did not know how to pray for me?
Do you hesitate to share prayer requests? Have you ever asked for prayer for a sin with which you struggle? I welcome your input.