Ruth and I sometimes find ourselves receiving a number of prayer requests for Christian friends experiencing significant health concerns, often including surgeries. There are times when these health-related prayer requests seem to come in waves, but a recent wave caught me a bit differently than usual.
As I prayed, I realized that lately, the majority of my prayers for Christians were born out of needs (and most often, health-related ones). I began to review Scripture, and soon was challenged to pray for fellow Christians in ways that advance the gospel and the kingdom of God. This included praying for physical health and well-being, but also prayers that go far beyond that!
* James is clear that we should confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that healing takes place. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16). Healing is a significant ministry of the Lord (not just physical, but emotional, relational, and spiritual healing). We all want our prayers to be effective!
* Samuel mentions that prayerlessness towards God's people is a sin against the Lord. (1 Samuel 12:23-24). This both convicted me, plus also spurred me to pray for the Lord to stir a great movement of biblical prayer amongst Christians for Christians (not only prayer for missionaries).
* Paul thanks God in prayer for Christians he had the privilege of leading and teaching in Christ (Philippians 1:3-11). We don't want to overlook those God brought to faith through our example, teaching or testimony.
* Paul exhorts us to always keep on praying for all the Lord's people (and do so by praying in the Spirit) (Ephesians 6:18-20). Praying in the Spirit is the key- especially when we can't (of our own physical thoughts) think of a way to pray for someone specifically.
There are many more encouragements and exhortations to pray for one another, but this is a start.
How Do I Pray for Fellow Christians?
It seems easy, yet also ineffective, to pray a blanket prayer like, "Lord, bless _______ today," or "Lord, give _____ a good day today." While that's fine and good, praying with specificity and power can increase our faith, and needn't become a guessing game. The Scripture shows us powerful ways to pray for fellow Christians.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God. - Philippians 1:9-11
Another way I have prayed recently is: "Lord, grow my love for you and others to become greater than the love I have for myself." This can be prayed for other Christians as well- since many of us struggle to place others ahead of ourselves at times.
Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. - Ephesians 6:10
Continuing in Ephesians 6, we can also pray that fellow Christians be fully covered and prepared with the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:11-18
Scripture reveals many other ways we can powerfully, and effectively, pray for one another daily. Read through Paul's writings in the New Testament (and also read through the gospels) for additional ideas and prayer points. Invite the Holy Spirit to point them out to you when you read!
When one begins praying the prayer points Paul, and others wrote in Scripture, those points begin to become ingrained in our hearts and minds. Once a biblical prayer point has been written on our hearts, it becomes easier to pray for others (easier for the Holy Spirit to stir up in our spirits), because that way of thinking has already been established!
What Would Happen If...
The Church in America largely makes itself seem content by scurrying about with activities. The more events that are happening, the busier and more productive we feel. But busyness and effectiveness are too vastly different things! What would happen if Christians made time to pray biblically and effectively for one another (especially with an eye on what Christ could do through us beyond the activities we busy ourselves with)?
If Christians begin to regularly pray for other individual Christians with prayer examples in the Bible, could we witness the Lord suddenly activate many more Christians to actively, and lovingly, share their faith in Christ with others? Could we see a Revival or another Great Awakening in our nation?
If Christians begin to regularly pray for other individual Christians with prayers exemplified in Scripture, could we begin witnessing the Lord establish new ministries, or greater partnerships of existing ministries for His glory?
If Christians begin to regularly pray for other individual Christians with prayer mentioned in the Word, could our conversations become more centered on Christ, rather than on weather, sports, or the latest political news reports?
If Christians begin to regularly pray for other individual Christians with prayer modeled in Truth, could we see the Lord unify His Church unlike we've seen in our lifetimes?
The Church will be strengthened if God's people pray- and pray specifically for one another! Aren't we ready to see God-sized moves in our day? Aren't we ready to seek and witness His hand move powerfully in and about the lives of our Christian brothers and sisters (and our own- as others pray for us)? I hope you'll consider these thoughts and questions, prayerfully.
I Know Many Christians. Where do I Begin?
If you're like me, you know many Christians you can pray for. Where does one begin?
While Christians everywhere appreciate prayer, I find it's oftentimes the Christians most close to me that are neglected in prayer. I can pray for Christians in other countries, but sometimes my Christian siblings nearest are easy to overlook.
First, seek the Holy Spirit's thoughts on who to pray for, and then how to pray for that person.. He knows perfectly the needs of each one of His children (physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual). Consider praying for specific Christian family members, ministry partners, co-workers, schoolmates, neighbors, and others you see regularly or weekly. Often times, the people we see and know the best are ones where we have greater insight in prayer due to our personal relationships.
Pray for Christian siblings who may even seem to be enjoying an easier season in their walk with the Lord (who may not be outwardly struggling with physical or any other obvious challenges). Remember, as we lift others up, we're seeking more than comforts, we're seeking their effectiveness in glorifying God and advancing His kingdom!
Lastly, continue to seek the Holy Spirit at all times. At times when my attention becomes distracted, or my mind has wandered from specifically praying, asking the Holy Spirit to refresh my heart and mind, plus refocus my mind and spirit on what's on Father's heart, has proven effective to quickly getting me back into a prayerful mindset.