“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” (Philemon 7)
Perhaps some of the most commonly spoken words from one Christian to another are “I’ll be praying for you. “And perhaps the most commonly unspoken words are the prayers that would have been said if those promises were truly kept.
This week in our series inspired by The Battle Plan for Prayer, Alex and Stephen Kendrick remind us of the importance of praying for other believers.
We need each other‘s prayers. It’s one of the most loving things we can do for each other. Your brothers and sisters in Christ, at any challenging point in their lives, need to be able to take a deep breath and realize they’re not alone; that their Christian family has their back. They need the assurance that you and others are praying. Especially if you said you’d be praying.
Paul described this as being “on the alert. “Something we do “at all times.” We pray “with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18) Notice how all- encompassing this command and expectation is.
The early church in Acts was so involved with one another they were constantly “taking their meals together,” enjoying what the Bible describes as “gladness and sincerity of heart”. As a result, despite a rash of persecution and life-threatening challenges in the days that followed, we see God’s spirit working miracles among them. We read about bold witnesses for Christ. We read about people coming to faith by the dozens. We see sin exposed and repented of. We see teamwork. We see abundant generosity and unselfishness. We see regular demonstrations of God‘s power. We see everything we wish happened in our day, in our churches…
…And one of the ways we can contribute most effectively to a revival of church unity today is through the active practice of praying for each other as believers. It heals us. It unites us as one.
Almost all of Paul’s letters in the New Testament were written to different churches. But no matter how close his personal relationship with them, he wrote assuring them that he was genuinely, consistently, perfectly, praying for them. Romans 1: 9-12, Philippians 1:3-4; the book of Colossians, they all show examples of this.
Our routine should follow the faithful footprints of this example. Encouraging other believers. Thanking God for them. Worshiping with them. Bringing their concerns before the Lord, both physical and spiritual.
You can use The Lord’s Prayer as an example of how to pray for others…
“Father in heaven, I pray for my brother (my sister), praising your name for them, asking you to fill their hearts with worship for you today. May their primary desire always be to advance your kingdom, wherever they happen to be, whatever they happen to be doing.
May they align themselves on the earth with your will, just as surely as you’re will is followed and accomplished in heaven.
Provide them, I pray, with their daily bread – with everything you know is required for them to thrive and be cared for. And grant them repentance, forgiving them of their sins even as you forgive me of mine.
Keep their relationships free from bitterness and difficulty as we forgive those who sin against them. Please, Lord, protect them from temptation, from allowing them to be overloaded with adversity.
I deliver them from all evil, from every scheme and attack of the enemy, from every weapon intended to defeat and discourage them. For yours, Lord, is the kingdom, The power, the glory, forever. You have already given them victory through the finished work of Christ. So I pray for them today, and I pray in his name, amen.”
Now that’s strategically targeting a prayer.
Too often, prayer request times between believers become: “Pray for my aunt’s kidney condition. Pray for my cousin’s colon cancer. Pray for my brother’s big toe.” And while we all need and appreciate prayer towards physical health, we must be careful not to prioritize temporary physical needs over eternal spiritual ones.
The apostle Paul prayed for God to reveal his will and love, to strengthen and equip people toward spiritual fruitfulness and for them to increase in their knowledge of God and faithfulness to God. We can learn so much about how to pray for one another.
Think of how a commitment to prayer for our fellow believers could energize our relationships and our shared sense of mission.
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, thank you for the church you’ve given me, and for the friends and families you’ve enabled me to know shared faith in Christ. I pray you would cement our relationships even further by helping us commit to pray for one another. Lord, be pleased by how we love and care for each other. May your name be glorified as you work in our midst. We will be watching you, and we will be praising you. Bless us, I pray, that the world would see your power and the difference you make in our lives. Amen!”
Thanks for listening!
-Joe, Hannah and Lilly