Learning to Pray for Others from the Apostle Paul

27 May

When you have a baby they want everything.

It wasn’t too long ago that our baby boy was about at the grabbing stage. He didn’t think about what was good for him, he just wanted everything and grabbed for it and when he didn’t get it, he would make some noise until someone gave it to him.

A lot of praying that goes on in churches is like that.

As children get older they ask for all kinds of things. I wish I had made a list of some of the things my children have asked me for. Dad can I have a horse? Dad can I have an elephant? And that’s cute when they are little, but at some point, as your children grow up, you don’t want them to stop asking for your help, but you want them to ask for stuff that matters, you figure they should stop at some point asking for elephants and start asking for things that are actually good for them.

The same is true in the Christian life.

As we mature spiritually as a church, we are going to start praying more and more about the things that really matter.

The problem is I am not good and you are not good at being able to tell what is most important and best for us, because our own sinful, selfish desires get us all confused, and so we need to God’s Word to have Him help us know what is best for us and for others.

For example, we might look at the prayer of the life of the apostle Paul.

And when we do, we see Paul primarily prayed about three things.

  1. He prayed for people’s salvation:  Acts 26:19 and Romans 10:1
  1. He prayed for the gospel’s proclamation: Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 4:3 and 4 and 2 Thessalonians 3:1
  1. And he prayed finally, for the church’s edification:

And did he ever! Over and over again. In fact, I think we can look at what Paul prayed for other believers about and use it as kind of a guide for us as we go to pray for others as well.

In this post, let me just mention the first.

*     First you can ask God to help others in the church experience deep relationships with the other believers in your church in spite of some of the differences that exist.

And I got this prayer request from Romans 15:5-6 where Paul writes,

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

He’s been talking actually about different convictions people have about what’s right and wrong, and at the end of that, he prays, God help this church in spite of their different convictions to get along. And man, we need to be praying about that because if there’s one thing we as people are good at, it is hurting each other and so we need to be asking God for help to remain united.

Specifically when you pray for other people at the church, why don’t you:

–      Ask God to help them do the hard work of getting to know people that are different than them and spending time with them even when it isn’t comfortable and that people would see the connection between the way Jesus reached out to them and the sacrifices he made to bring them into his family and the way they should reach out to others and make sacrifices to help them enjoy the church as family.

–        Ask God that he would help people who are very different and have even some different particular convictions to not allow those differences to turn into bitterness and that they would be able to enjoy worshiping with other people here at church.

–        Ask God that He would help us endure in relationships, because that is really the problem, isn’t it? It’s not too hard to be friends with someone for a day or two, but to stick with someone for years is much more difficult, and we need to go to the God of endurance for the kind of endurance we need not to give up on each other.

Really, long term unity in a church is a kind of miracle, and we need to be praying that God would create and sustain this kind of harmony in our church so that we can make Him look great with one voice.

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