Every Christian knows they should pray for others (1 Tim. 2:1). Yet every Christian also knows how terribly trite it feels to ask God over and over again to help out your fellow church members with their health, safety, or money problems. So how do we pray without just repeating ourselves?
Fortunately, God answers this for us. As Christians, we should pray continuously (1 Thess. 5:17), taking each other’s anxiety to our caring God (1 Pet. 5:7). We should also pray with thanksgiving, bringing one another’s requests to God (Phil. 4:6). The Lord also invites us to pray expectantly for wisdom (James 1:5). We shouldn’t grow weary of faithfully praying these prayers. But we can aim for even more precision in our prayers for other church members.
What Not to Include
But before I get to specifics on what to pray for, let me be specific about how we don’t have to pray. Sometimes people make up standards for prayer that simply aren’t biblical. The Bible makes it clear that unnecessarily public, lengthy, wordy, and repetitive prayer is not necessarily godly prayer (Matt. 6:6–7). So as we pray for fellow members, don’t feel unnecessary guilt that your prayers aren’t long. Have clear requests and use few words, trusting that the Lord hears.
What to Include
Instead of heaping up empty phrases in their prayers, Jesus taught his disciples a pattern of prayer that we now call “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6:9–13). We can use this pattern to pray for one another.
1. Adore God’s name (v. 9).
Adoring the name of God and asking that God help others adore his name is a great place to start. We should pray that fellow church members would exalt God and delight in his glory.
2. Accept God’s will (v. 10).
Much of how we relate to God comes out in responsive humility (Ps. 131). Prayer is one way we express our eager surrender to God’s will. We should pray that fellow church members would learn to submit to God’s will and trust his providence.
3. Admit God’s daily provision (v. 11).
We need God to provide for our daily sustenance. He works through us and others to see to it that our needs are met through the power of his might and not our own self-reliance. We should pray that God would meet the needs of fellow church members and that they would seek him as the provider of our greatest needs (Matt. 4:4, 6:33).
4. Ask God’s forgiveness (v. 12).
We sin daily, whether through commission or omission. How blessed we are to walk in the mercy and grace of God in steadily realigning ourselves with the gospel in prayer. We have a constant opportunity in prayer to confess our sins to the Lord (1 John 1:9). We should pray that God would move others to confess their sins and find hope in the forgiveness of the gospel.
5. Affirm forgiveness toward others (v. 12).
We have the privilege of releasing people from relational strife by choosing to forgive them. What a blessing to receive mercy from God in our contriteness and then to offer the same mercy to others (Prov. 28:13, Eph. 4:32). We should pray that fellow members would exercise that same forgiveness toward those that have wronged them.
6. Avoid evil (v. 13).
We’re tempted by all kinds of sin (Jas. 1:13–15). There’s sin in our own hearts and minds. There’s sin imposed on us from the world at the invitation of others (1 John 2:15–17). We need God’s protection and a way out of evil, regardless of where it comes from (1 Cor. 10:12–13). We should pray that God would protect fellow members from indwelling sin, the world, and the devil.
Now that we’ve seen some ways we should pray for others, here are some practical suggestions:
- Pray through a page of your church membership directory during your devotions using the 6 “A’s” listed above.
- Before or after Bible study, assign one “A” to each person in the group to pray through for a different church member.
- You can emphasize praying one “A” of the Lord’s prayer at mealtime.
- You can pray for one member each night before dinner by focusing on one aspect of the Lord’s Prayer for each member. In our home, the awakening aroma of delicious dinner food draws us to the kitchen table out of various tasks each night. On the counter, we have filed away a stack of Christmas cards, which we use to remind us to pray for image-bearing Christian families. I often use an “A” to guide me.
I hope this article gives you a guide to praying more simply and more in line with the Bible’s blueprint.
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared at the 9Marks blog and is used with permission.