Praying for the Church
Please help us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks for the blessings we received in answer to all these prayers. (2 Corinthians 1:11, CEV)
There are probably times when we all get frustrated with "the church." And yet, it is still the major vehicle through which God acts in the world. So praying for it should be a priority. But what can we pray for?
First, we can pray for its growth. Jesus wants His church to grow, not so we can simply see our buildings full on Sundays, but out of His heart to see people saved. He told his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field" (Matthew 9:37-38). This is not prayer for some vague concept of "church growth," but rather for workers to go and do the job! The harvest is ready; all it needs is people to bring it in. Paul certainly prayed for believers to be "active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ" (Philemon v. 6).
Second, we can pray for its leaders. The devil knows the truth of the saying, "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered" (Zechariah 13:7), and this was the strategy he used at the cross (Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27). It is still one he uses today. If he can get leaders weary or discouraged, or attack them in some way, then he can significantly weaken the church. This is why church leaders should be the object of our constant prayers rather than our constant criticism.
Third, we can pray for its unity, just as Jesus did when He prayed "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you" (John 17:21). We should be eager to express the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But let’s face it, that doesn’t always come easily! So we need to pray for it - both within our own local church, and between the churches in our cities, towns and villages. Such unity attracts the blessing of God, and makes a powerful impact on the world.
Don’t just criticize the church – pray for it!
Finally, brothers, pray for us … (2 Thessalonians 3:1)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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