It has been one of our family traditions which our children were introduced to from the moment they could talk, that whenever we were driving to church on a Sunday, each family member would pray. Our children learned to pray for our church by listening to Kim and I pray. Although, it became apparent to us that when they were young they didn’t quite grasp some of the nuances of what was being prayed. Hearing us pray for our church to grow, when it was the turn of one of our children to pray, they began to ask God with great gusto for grass at our church to grow! Over time, they each of them began to learn how to pray for our church – especially the Sunday service that we were driving to. I not only want each of my children to continue to develop in how they pray, I would also like each person in our church to learn how to pray more effectively for our church. Here’s how.
Every church has a ‘why’. To paraphrase Rick Warren, every church should be driven by their ‘why’. Every church that has clear sense of their ‘why’ is going to have people praying more effectively for their church. Our ‘why’ is not unique to us. Many (if not most) churches would say they have the same ‘why’ as us – after all, we’re all reading the same Bible. Our ‘why’ is based on the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) and the Greatest Commandments (Matt. 22:37-40). These ‘why’ informants guide us to be a community which: (i) fosters worship of God; (ii) encourages caring fellowship with other believers; (iii) delivers God’s Word to empower Christlikeness; and, (iv) cooperates to reach out to those who are without Christ (we sum these up as: enthrone / encourage / empower / engage).
But, any church will conduct their ‘why’ with the fragrance of the gifts that God has placed within it. If the pastor has the gift of evangelist, the church will probably emphasize reaching out, and most of the church will probably focus their prayers toward seeing the lost saved. However, such a church is in danger of a ‘why’ imbalance by possibly neglecting the other essential ‘whys’. This is why such a church needs, what every church needs – people who know how to pray appropriately for it.
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, Second Thessalonians 1:11
WHY PRAY FOR YOUR CHURCH
Yesterday morning, in my daily Bible reading, I read in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus told His disciples that certain miracles can only happen with (much) prayer.
And He said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:29
A few hundred years after Jesus said these words, a monk was copying this sacred text as part of his life’s work and could hardly believe that prayer alone could be the cause of such a miracle. In the margin he added the words “and fasting” (something monks had to do a lot of). Later monks copied this baffled monk’s addition words into the text proper, and eventually the King James Version translators incorporated into their translation. But as any good recent English translation will point out in its footnotes, every older copy of the Gospel of Mark does not have these two extra words in their text. This makes Christ’s words about prayer worth taking note of more carefully. Added to this, the next time you are reading through the Gospel of Luke, note how often he describes Jesus spending nights in prayer. Then consider why He did.
After you’ve done a bit of pondering on this, consider that the Apostle Paul prayed more for the churches that he planted than he did preaching or writing to them. And to help you consider this, let’s conclude by noting how he prayed for these churches and why it should influence how we pray for our church.
¶ Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. Hebrews 13:18
WHAT TO PRAY FOR YOUR CHURCH
¶ And so, from the day we heard, 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; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14
1. Don’t cease praying for your church, especially its leaders
2. Ask God to fill everyone in our church with the knowledge of God’s will, especially our church’s leaders
3. Ask God to give your brothers and sisters spiritual wisdom and understanding into God’s Word, especially our church’s leaders
4. Ask God to enable those in our church to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, especially our church’s leaders
5. Pray that your church family will be fully pleasing to God, especially our church’s leaders
6. Pray that everyone in our church will bear fruit in every good work, especially our church’s leaders
7. Pray that your brothers and sisters will grow in their knowledge of Christ, especially your church’s leaders
8. Ask God to strengthen everyone in our church with the Holy Spirit’s power, especially our church’s leaders
9. Pray that God will enable our church family to endure life’s difficulties with patience and joy, especially our church’s leaders
10. Ask God to deliver those who attend our church, but are yet to surrender to Christ, from the domain of darkness into His glorious kingdom of His Son, that they might know redemption and forgiveness from God.