Praying When You Don't Want Anyone To Know Your Awkward Prayer Request

Ever been in a Bible Study or Sunday school as prayer requests are being taken, and the question is asked, “Anyone else have a prayer need?”

Photo credit: Ben White.

Photo credit: Ben White.

You feel an uncomfortable nudging. Your inside Honest Girl screams, “Yes! We have a biggie! We need prayer for this problem.

But then Well-Behaved Girl, who is easily embarrassed and cares about others’ opinions, says, “Shhhh. We can’t tell anyone about that. What would everyone think?

So you keep your desperate, awkward problem to yourself.

Awkward Prayer Requests

We all have them.
Financial woes.
Marriage problems.
Rebellious children.
Hidden sins.
Dark struggles.
The ugly stuff we don’t talk about.
The issues we assume only challenge us.
The garbage we think everyone else got cleaned up the moment they came to Jesus.

We can’t possibly tell people THESE requests or they will know how utterly sinful and dirty we really are.

But take heart, we are not the first ones with embarrassing issues.

A Woman With a Problem

The crowd on the Galilean road pressed in on Jesus. Rumors swirled through the excited conversations.

“Did you hear about the demon-possessed guy? Jesus sent the evil spirits into pigs, and then the entire herd of pigs rushed into the sea and drowned themselves!

“Well, my cousin knows a guy, who saw another guy get healed from leprosy. Jesus just stretched out His hand, said, ‘Be healed,” and boom! Leprosy gone. Have you ever heard of such a thing?” 

“What about the paralyzed man who can now supposedly walk? Do you think it is really true?"

One woman edged her way through the masses. She kept her head down and avoided eye contact, while straining to catch the stories of other miracles. These energized her hope and determination. She desperately needed help, but she didn’t want anyone to know her problem. Her physical ailment embarrassed her, and furthermore, in her culture, it made her unclean.

For twelve years she had bled. 12 years. 144 months. 576 weeks. 4,380 days.

Physically and emotionally exhausted, she just needed help. The stories of Jesus and His power to heal had circulated through her village, and now here He was! Close enough to touch.

If she could just get closer, perhaps she could reach out and grab His robe. Then maybe, just maybe, His power would flow into her body and make her well.

But she had to be cautious. No one must see her. No one could know what she needed. As she edged up, pushing past others, she stretched out her hand and just managed to touch His outer garment.

I Have A Problem Too

So I have a problem, but I am not telling you what it is. I don’t want you to know the specifics of my problem because they embarrass me. I will just keep my little struggles to myself, thank you very much.

While I don’t trust enough to share with others, what if I could just reach and touch the edge of Jesus robe? I don’t want to actually draw His attention any more than I want to draw yours. I don’t want Him to look at me. I don’t want to be vulnerable, even with Him. I just need His healing.

When we left our poor bleeding Galilean woman she had just reached out and touched Jesus’s garment. The moment she took a hold, she was healed.

Oh, I could talk about this part of the story for days. This picture is so precious because it blows all our plans of deserving Jesus’ attention or earning His help right out of the water.

This woman went to Him, and reached out her hand, and laid a hold of His power when she didn’t WANT to be noticed. Then His healing flowed to her, without even an audible request on her part.

Jesus immediately knew He had been touched because His power had left Him. 

  • And Jesus said, "Who was it that touched me?" When all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!" But Jesus said, "Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.[Luke 8:45-46, ESV]

Now read the woman’s response:

  • And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. [Luke 8:47, ESV]  

The woman was hidden no longer. What she tried to accomplish in secret, was now public. Jesus removed the veil of her secrecy. 

He didn’t design us to carry our issues alone.  While we might not want to share our dirty laundry, what makes any problem worse is going through it alone and without support. Being hidden can be both desired and terrifying all at the same time. No wonder we get ourselves tied up in knots.

This woman is plucked from private suffering and transported to community instantaneously. Not only is she physically healed but she now DECLARES in front of everybody her problem and her Savior’s healing. With the weight of secrecy removed, she becomes the center of attention and a megaphone to proclaim the power of Jesus.

Lessons From the Woman

What can we learn from this woman that applies to our private prayers?

  1. I have to get up and go to Jesus.
    She would never have been healed if she had stayed home and lamented her problems. Getting up and GOING was required. She may not have desired eye contact, but close personal proximity was required. Struggling alone with my garbage won’t work. I must get right next to my Savior by getting in His Word and praying.  
  2. Being close is not enough. I have to grab a hold of Jesus.
    The woman needed the faith to think that reaching out and touching the robe would even help. She also needed enough faith to actually do it! There is a massive difference between believing that touching the garment would help and actually TOUCHING it. Once I get close to Jesus, I must grab on to His truth, promises, and grace which cover even the worst of me, and I must BELIEVE He can and will act according to His character.
  3. Coming in faith is the only requirement.
    She offered no sacrifice, promise, pledge, or service. Her faith was in Jesus, not in her ability to earn His healing. I might think the more despicable the problem, the more I need to earn an answer, but that isn’t true. I pray for and receive an answer because of WHO Jesus is and WHAT He can do, NOT because I deserve it.
  4. Jesus’ answers to our prayers deserve to be declared.
    Even if I don’t want anyone to know my problem, I really NEED to tell others about my solution when Jesus gives it. His work in my life and His answers to my prayers are powerful testimonies of Who He is and What He does.

Be Brave and Reach Out

What are you keeping hidden away in the dark, about which you are afraid to ask people to pray with you? What awkward prayer request is too difficult to share?

Even if you dare not tell another living soul, you can trust your deepest, most well-hidden secret to your Savior. (Hint: He already knows all about it already!) Maybe you can’t even speak it out loud and you can barely approach Him about it. Go to Him anyway.

I urge you- push through the crowd of your doubts and fears, and grab onto the promises and grace of Jesus. Be willing to repent and turn. Be ready to declare his healing when it comes.

In other words, PRAY! That is how we grab on to our Savior’s answers and healing.