You know you should pray for your local church body — but do you know specifically what to pray for?
For most of us, our prayers probably end up sounding vague and puzzled: “Help our church to grow and help people with whatever problems they’re facing – I don’t know what they need, but You do – and help us all to glorify You.”
That’s certainly better than not praying at all — but I think we could be a little more specific.
Praying specifically is important, for you and for your church.
Praying specifically for your local church will open your eyes to the spiritual needs within your church body — needs like compassion, not like bus ministries — and show you ways to minister to those particular areas of need. It will help you increase in love for the body. It will pinpoint areas where you could serve others.
Praying for more than just “growth” helps your church too. Growth is a vague idea: it’s more a result than a daily practice, and can really only be measured in retrospect. But praying for your church body to practice specific behaviors on a daily basis will result in continued growth toward Christlikeness.
Sure, you can write down requests and praying through the member directory. You can pray for everyone who’s hurting, everyone who’s ill, everyone who has unsaved loved ones. You can pray for the preacher, the musicians, the nursery workers, and other categories of people. But those are lists for another day…
You should pray for your church family as a whole.
A local church body is supposed to be one cohesive unit, learning and serving together for the glory of God. But just like any other group of people, a church is only as strong as its weakest member. If there’s discord or apathy among any of its members, that church will struggle and falter.
Here’s 10 ways to pray specifically for your local church body:
1. Pray for a hunger for righteousness. Pray that fellow church members would crave God’s truth more than the world’s lies. Pray that they would lose their taste for sinful pleasures, and increase their appetite for God’s perfect ways. Pray that they would want to be holy, as He is holy.
2. Pray for dedication to God’s Word. Pray that they would see the need in their own for quality time in the Bible, both reading and studying. Pray that they would learn to memorize His Word, and meditate on it daily.
3. Pray for constancy in prayer. Pray that people would commune constantly with their Father and intercede faithfully for their brothers and sisters. Pray that prayer would become their first response, not their last resort.
4. Pray for spiritual wisdom and understanding. Pray that people would earnestly seek God’s wisdom in every situation. Pray that they would grow in understanding spiritual things. Pray that they would make wise choices and be understanding toward one another.
5. Pray for love and compassion. Pray that people would love each other with Christlike compassion. Pray that people would be forgiving, selfless, patient, and kind. Pray for empathy to increase, and criticism to decrease.
6. Pray for likemindedness. Pray that the church body would be united in a desire for truth, and knit together in love. Pray that people would be able to overlook preferences and non-essential differences, for the sake of furthering the gospel and edifying the body of Christ.
7. Pray for discernment. Pray that people would be so grounded in truth that they can easily spot the world’s deception and the devil’s lies. Pray that they would be so steeped in what’s right that they can accurately discern between preference and standard, or tolerance and sin.
8. Pray for spiritual tenderness. Pray that the church body would be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in every area. Pray that they would be quick to respond to the Spirit’s conviction. Pray that they would be eager to mature in Christlikeness, open to change, and submissive to church leadership.
9. Pray for spiritual refreshment. Pray that church members would notice those who are weary and discouraged, and make a point to reach out and encourage. Pray for the Spirit to comfort the grieving and calm the stressed. Pray for times of spiritual nourishment and restoration.
10. Pray for discipleship within the church body. Pray that individuals body would mature spiritually to the point where they can help others mature. Pray for more-mature men and women to teach less-mature men and women — and pray for the less-mature to be teachable and humble about accepting guidance.
This list is not exhaustive — what else would you add?
And who will commit to praying these things for their church this week?
photo credit: DHouv