Have you ever been reading your Bible and noticed how Paul prays such rich, kingdom-saturated prayers for churches?
For the church in Thessalonica: “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power” (2 Thess. 1:11; see also 1 Thess. 1:9–13).
For the church in Colossae: “We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:9–10).
For the church in Ephesus: “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph. 1:16–17; see also 3:14–21).
For the church in Rome (Rom. 15:14–33) and the church in Philippi (Phil. 1:9–11).
Of course, there’s far more where this came from. See Don Carson’s excellent book on the topic, Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation (Baker), as well as TGC’s corresponding eight-session group study curriculum (LifeWay)
Leading the Charge
It’s comparatively easy for you and me to pray for ourselves, our families, and our friends. But how can we learn how to pray more fervently and consistently for our local churches?
For one, we just need to start doing it—and encouraging others to do so.
To help with that, here are 18 things you can pray for your church. They aren’t as rich as Paul’s since I wanted to keep them simple and Twitter-length. (Also because I’m not inspired.) Still, perhaps you could print out this article and pray two or three of the points below per day for the next week—maybe in your quiet time, maybe at the family dinner table.
Also, consider copying and pasting your favorite prayers below into Twitter or Facebook, led by the phrase “Pray for your church: . . .” Don’t insert my Twitter handle or TGC’s. You don’t have enough room, and it’s not the point. The point is to use your social media platform to encourage others to pray for theirchurch.
Who knows? One day in glory, perhaps we’ll see all the good accomplished from believers being more deliberate about praying for their churches.
What to Pray For
1. That we would have unity amid diversity—loving those with whom we have nothing in common but the gospel.
2. That a culture of discipling would form in which making disciples is viewed as an ordinary part of the Christian life.
3. That faithful elders would use Scripture to train members to do the work of ministry.
4. That a hunger for studying the gospel would form among members so that they can guide and guard one another in it.
5. That transparent, meaningful relationships would become normal and remaining anonymous strange.
6. The preaching of God’s Word—that it would be biblically careful and Holy Spirit imbued.
7. That elders would remain above reproach, kept from temptation, complacency, idols, and worldliness.
8. That the church’s songs would teach members to biblically confess, lament, and praise.
9. That the church’s prayers would be infused with biblical ambitions, honesty, and humility.
10. That adult members would work to disciple teenagers and not just leave it to programming.
11. That the church’s primary teachers grow in dedication to God’s Word even when no one’s watching.
12. That it would grow in being distinct from the world in love and holiness, even as it engages outsiders.
13. That members would share the gospel this week—and see more conversions!
14. That members would be prepared for persecution, remembering to love, not curse, their persecutors.
15. That hopes for political change would be outstretched by the hope of heaven.
16. That giving would be faithul, as well as joyful, consistent, and sacrificial.
17. That more members would use their careers to take the gospel to places it’s never been.
18. That members would be good and do good in their workplaces this week.
Can you think of something I didn’t include? Then pray it and share it! This is hardly the “official list” of the 18 most important things to pray. They’re simply what one guy thought of while sitting in his office chair.
The point is for all of us to start praying more intentionally for our churches, and to encourage others to do the same.