Seven Ways that We Can Pray for Our Church
Recently, I have been reflecting on the prayers of a local church. It occurred to me that what we pray about says a lot about how we view God and eventually, what we want our church to become. We pray for what we see, and we see what we pray for often.
James tells us that we are to pray for the sick among us. In fact, James (5:14) asks and answered his own question: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Paul asked the Colossians (4:3) to “pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ.”
As Christ-followers, we should pray for those IN the church. But we should also pray for those who ARE the church. If we only pray for those who are sick, we miss the opportunities that God may be drawing our attention toward at this moment. If we only pray for ministry opportunities, then we can find ourselves neglecting the “one anothers” that we have been called to care for in our church family. We are to pray for those who are hurting. But we are also to pray for the vitality of the local church.
The question then becomes, “How should I pray for my church?” While reflecting upon that, I began to think of early church in Acts 2:42-47. This church, simply days old, experienced the presence and blessing of God. As I looked over these verses this morning, I felt led to pray for our church in these seven ways. I pray also, that you would pray with me along these same lines.
Pray that God’s people will be devoted to Christ and one another. (v.42)
Specifically here we God’s people devoted to teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. These early Christians were not simply “interested” in Christ and one another, they were deeply “devoted” to Christ. The difference between “interest” and “devotion” is seen when participation costs us something.
Pray that we will see clear evidence of God’s working. (v.43)
It was said that many wonders and signs were being done among the church. There is much debate among genuine Christ-followers about the nature of these types of miracles today. I am certain of this—there should be some miraculous things taking place in our ministries that cannot be explained as anything “but God.” We should be seeing marriages restored, addictions overcome, forgiveness extended, radical acts of selflessness and people from all walks of life loving God and joyfully serving together. People should look at the church and say that something is different about these people that can only be explained as a miracle from God.
Pray that God’s people will care for one another. (v.44-45)
The church cared enough to not simply pray for those struggling, but to also sacrifice on behalf of them. It is said that these believers were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. The church was filled with people who had resources to spare and others who had genuine need. The local church functions best when the people of God, as part of the community of God look for opportunities to care for those within the body that had legitimate needs. They looked for opportunities to be generous. Or to say it another way, they each thought, “I am willing to give up what I want so that you can get what you need.”
Pray that God’s people will have an attitude of thankfulness and generosity. (v.46)
There was a gratitude and generosity among these early Christians that was compelling. The older I get, the more I have began to realize how compelling thankful people are. We love to be around people who are thankful for the ordinary things in life. They are able to receive food with glad and generous hearts. External thanksgiving is usually the result of internal transformation.
Pray that God’s people will be enthusiastic about worshipping Him. (v.47)
God’s people live lives of enthusiastic worship of praising God. When they gathered at home and in public, they were consumed with expressing praise to God. This is not a mandate of a particular style of music, tradition or volume. It was about attitude and not volume. Everything is about God and not us.
Pray that God’s people will have a good reputation within our community. (v.47)
They were worshipping God AND having favor with people. This was not an “either/or.” I am convinced that what makes the church relevant is devotion to God, care for others and a godly lifestyle. This can win the favor those who would appear to be our harshest critics. As Richard Coekin has stated, “The primary evangelistic strategy of God, in every setting, is the godliness of His people.”
Pray that God will add to His people. (v.47)
Ultimately it was God who causing the church to grow in a consistent and profound way.
In fact, the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. As Christ followers, we have a tremendous privilege and mandate to share the gospel with others and compassionately invite them to follow Christ. However, it should give us great comfort that God is the one builds the church. This causes us to look to God as we are being faithful to Him. As Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians (3:6-7), “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” We get to participate in what God is doing!
My hope is that you will join me in praying along these lines for our (your) local. You can pray each on a daily basis or take one per day. For example, you may pray every Monday that “God’s people will be devoted to Christ and one another.”
Send me a reply and I will be sure to pray for you. And while, you are at it, I would not mind if you chose one of these seven ways to pray for us.