The first time I heard the phrase “I covet your prayers” was very early in my life as a Christian. It sounded cool to me, like taking something forbidden and making it spiritual. I admit I even used the phrase a few times when asking people to pray for me.
Now I’m more tempted to address it like this:
My problem with the phrase is that it doesn’t mean what it says.
What coveting is and isn’t
God prohibits coveting:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Exodus 20:17.)
The passage is referring to this type of coveting:
1. to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others: to covet another’s property. (Dictionary.com.)
It’s not talking about this type of coveting:
2. to wish for, especially eagerly: he won the prize they all coveted. (Dictionary.com.)
Either way, though, coveting has to do with what is – or will become – another person’s property. And when someone says they covet my prayers, they mean neither definition of coveting. They don’t want to own my prayers and they don’t wish they said my prayers instead of me.
They really don’t covet anything. What they want is for me to help them out, to come alongside them with prayer and support.
Unlike coveting, this desire is endorsed by Scripture both in praying for others,
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people … . (1 Timothy 2:1.)
and in coming alongside others:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4.)
So I will pray for those people who say they covet my prayers, and I’d like them to do the same for me. It’s a comfort, and there’s nothing covetous about it.