Praying is an essential part of the faith. We are to pray for ourselves, for our government and, for our enemies. Paul tells Timothy, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them, intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (1 Timothy 2:1). Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to pray for others. We don’t always know the full story. Sometimes we don’t know the people involved. It can be a challenge to know what the right thing to pray for is when we don’t have all of the facts.
Praying is an act of obedience, an act of kindness, and an act of love. We demonstrate our love for others when we pray for them. Knowing what to say and how to say it can be challenging. I’d like to offer some suggestions for prayer based on Paul’s letter to the Colossians to help us pray more intentionally for others.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. – Colossians 1:9-12
Pray Regularly: As we see in 1 Timothy and in Colossians, we are to pray for others with regularity. We can’t get caught up in praying for our wants and desires. Exercising our faith through prayer means that we are to lift others up in prayer with regularity.
Pray for the Knowledge of God’s Will: One of the more difficult tasks for a lot of Christian’s is understanding what God’s will might be in any given situation. Pray that the person would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.
Pray for Wisdom and Understanding: Pray that the Holy Spirit will give them the wisdom and understanding needed to navigate the situation you are praying for on their behalf. They may not know exactly what steps to take to help in their circumstances. Pray that they would be able to discern the next steps.
Pray That They Would Please the Lord: When a person requests prayer because of a difficult situation, part of their need is remain faithful and obedient in the midst of the circumstance. We can help them by praying that they would please the Lord in every area of their life.
Pray That They Would Bear Fruit: We all want to see good fruit in our lives. We want to honor God, serve others, use our resources for the church. Pray that others would bear fruit in their lives in service to God.
Pray That Their Knowledge of God Grows: God is infinite and unknowable to our finite minds. However, we can grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him. As we grow in our faith, we can know Him more and more. Pray that the people in your life would increase in the knowledge of God.
Pray For Strength, Endurance, and Patience: The world we live in is full of peril. There will be a difficult moment for the faithful and unfaithful alike. Pray that folks would be able to have strength, endurance, and patience in the difficult and dark moment of life.
Pray For Hearts of Gratitude: It can be difficult to be thankful, especially when it is hard to see what a person should be thankful for. When you pray for others, pray that they would have a heart full of gratitude and thanksgiving who has blessed us beyond measure in ways that we can see and in ways that we cannot see.
Bear in mind that this isn’t a magic formula. We cannot manipulate God into giving us what we want for ourselves or for others by praying in exactly the right way. This is a tool to help us think about others as we pray for them. Expect God to work as you pray, but don’t expect Him to do what you want Him to do because you followed a specific formula for prayer.
Questions for Reflection:
- Do I pray for others as much as I pray for myself?
- Do I pray with the expectation that God is going to work in the midst of the situation that I am praying for?
- Is prayer for others a priority in my life?