Do you pray for your church? We all would love to see our churches grow in number and spiritual fruitfulness, but do we actually pray for this? As the Apostle James put it so clearly, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2b). The next question is, how should we pray for our church? For what should we pray? Surely it is not enough to merely pray for one another’s physical needs or the constantly changing conditions they encounter. If we have taken the time to get to know one another’s struggles and discouragements, we can have much more informed prayers for each family in the body. At the same time, we can never improve on biblical prayers. Thankfully, the Bible is full of rich prayers. We’ve probably all found deep, personal comfort praying with David in the Psalms, but where can we go for prayers of intercession? We have a treasure trove of models for intercessory prayer in the New Testament. In his book Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Don Carson helpfully provides a number of biblical prayers we can use when praying for our church. Inspired by Carson’s book, here are some biblical prayers to use when interceding for your church family. So go grab your church directory and join with me in praying these over the families of your local congregation.
- Pray God shows them the hope to which He has called them
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” -Ephesians 1:15-21
- Pray God empowers them to grasp the depths of Christ’s love for them
Ephesians 3:14-21 states, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
- Pray their love abounds and they bear the fruit of righteousness to the end
Philippians 1:9-11 states, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so 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.”
- Pray they have power to know and do God’s will for the long haul
Colossians 1:9-12 states, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
- Pray they increase in love for the church and the world
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 states, “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
- Pray God makes them worthy of His calling
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 states, “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Pray their fellowship in the body is effective
Philemon 1:4-6 states, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”
- Pray God equips them to do His will
Hebrews 13:20-21 states, “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
May we regularly cycle through these and many other biblical prayers as we intercede for one another on the way to glory.
*Another helpful resource in this regard is Donald Whitney’s Praying the Bible.