The first thing many believers—and many non-believers— think of when they hear the word “prayer” is most likely “religion,” “routine,” or a mix of the two.
Pray before your meal, pray at the end of a Bible study, pray for *insert country here*.
But prayer is not just merely a monotonous act of bouncing your ideas and wants off of a seemingly invisible Divine Power. Prayer is the very power and assertion of bringing Heaven down to earth and experiencing the blessings God has for us here. Prayer is the act of a child of God persistently asking things of their Heavenly Father to perform, heal, and change in their life and the lives of others. Prayer is necessary, not in some religious way, but for the very health of our soul.
So what should we be praying for?
Pray for Your Leader
Paul is seen throughout his letters either thanking a church for prayer or asking a church for prayer.
But, why would a prominent, Holy-Spirit led leader possibly be asking a church to pray for him?
Because Paul needs the intervention of Jesus in His life as much as anyone does.
It is a common misconception that pastors are at the very tip of the spiritual iceberg, but they are just as human and flawed as anyone else. Take a moment in your week and pray for your pastor or leader. Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide their lips to speak God’s truth. Pray that Jesus would remind them daily of their need for Him and His power to even attempt to do their job. Praying for your pastors is one of the most vital roles you can play in the well-being of your church community.
Pray for America
America has seemed to be in a state of utter division and destruction over the past few years. The media paints a picture of an alienated nation full of the far-left and far-right extremists who do nothing but argue and despise each other. America needs prayer. Not in a cliché “In God We Trust” type of way, but in a “Jesus, We Have Faith in Your Power to Heal Us” type of way. When it comes down to it, politics can never heal the heart-issue that is deeply rooted in the soil of this country. The Church has always been the leading power of change in the world – both for good and for bad. It’s time for us to realize that we are the ones with the only true power to bring forth justice, mercy, and love in this Land of the Free.
Pray for Your Community
It’s been said to “bloom where you are planted.” This phrase can be absolutely life changing if you truly take it for what it is. You are where you are at – spiritually and geographically – for a divine purpose. Your community needs you. Maybe you don’t have the call (or frankly… the money) to serve in an underdeveloped country across the world, but you have the resources to serve in the place you are in. You have an opportunity to cover your community in prayer.
Ask God to meet the needs of those in your community who are struggling in any way, shape, or form. Maybe you hate where you live currently. Ask God to change your heart about your town and ask for Him to enlighten you to the ways you can bring real, impactful change to where you live.
Pray for Your Friends
How often are we pleading on behalf of our friends both believer and non-believer? There is something beautiful in the way God set up our world in the way He laid it from the foundation of community. “It is not good for man to be alone” was a foreshadowing of God knowing our need for community and love.
We truly need each other if we ever want to survive and grow in the grace Jesus has given us. It is almost guaranteed that at least 1 of your friends is in a spiritual battle or desert season of some sort right now. Pray for their heart to stay steadfast and for their soul to be encouraged in the love of Jesus. Pray blessings over your friends’ lives, including your spouse or significant other. Prayer often speaks much louder than any word we can say. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13.
Pray for Your Enemies
This quote comes from a Man who was more than acquainted with the feeling of being slandered, betrayed, and rejected. A Man who took time out of His last moments of life to plead to the Father to forgive those who have hurt him the most. Jesus modeled what it looks like to pray for those – who by all logic – don’t deserve our prayers. But Jesus prayed anyway. Unfortunately, grudges and bitterness can often blindside us from the reality that those who hate us are actually the people who need our prayer the most.
I think God knew what He was doing when He established this practice. When you pray for your enemies, you become increasingly aware of God’s unconditional love and affection for them. You begin to see more clearly that God died for them just as He died for you. Who knows, maybe in the process of earnestly seeking God’s heart in praying for your persecutors, you will become reconciled along the way.
Pray for Yourself
It is far too easy to consider our own needs, desires, and pain as lesser than the grand scheme of needs in the world. It almost seems as honorable or humble to pray for Haiti and world peace but selfish to pray for ourselves. But God wants us to tell Him our needs. He wants us to be comfortable enough telling our Father our desires, needs, and pain. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11.
God wants to give good gifts to His kids. The problem is, we hesitate to ask Him. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid He’s too busy, or the issue is too insignificant, or maybe we just struggle with believing He will answer. We have to believe that God actually wants to see us flourish. Yes, us! As Andrew Murray so beautifully puts it “God gives as a Father to those who ask as a child.” Pray for yourself. Plead your needs. Ask for healing every day. Even if it may seem that God is silent, He is always working.