How to Pray for Your Church
How’s your prayer life?
Like the question about Bible reading, that’s another question that sadly causes embarrassment, regret, or excuses for many believers. But it doesn't have to be a condemning question. It's actually an invitation to act by faith on all of God's promises to hear and answer you when you pray.
If your prayer life is anemic or nonexistent, start by turning to God's promises in faith. The root of prayerlessness is unbelief, but the remedy is to remember and believe what God says to you:
- God promises to hear you when you pray (John 14:13-14; Jer. 29:12; 33:3; Ps. 91:15; 50:15)
- God promises to give you what you ask for or something better when you pray (Matt. 7:7-11)
- God promises to give you what you wouldn’t have if you didn't pray (James 4:2; Matt. 7:7-8)
So if you’re trusting those promises and you’re motivated to pray, how should you pray? What do you actually say when you pray? If you struggle to come up with the words to pray or if you feel like you run out of things to pray right away, what should you do?
One of the most fruitful practices I have learned is the practice of praying Scripture. When I pray Scripture back to God, my prayers are filled with language and categories I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. I’m also filled with confidence that I'm asking God for the very things that he has said he desires to do.
When I pray for people in our church by name, I typically turn to one of Paul's prayers for the churches. These prayers stir my affection for the saints, increase my longing for God to work in their lives, and give me bold requests to bring to the Lord in prayer.
This would be a fruitful practice for the members of our church to commit to: will you consider picking a day each week (or a certain time each day) to pray for everyone in your MC by name? (Or pray for those in your Huddle, your ministry team, or the church as a whole.) Here are some passages you can use when you pray for believers within Emmaus Road Church.‡ Imagine what will happen within our church as God answers these prayers!
Prayers for the Saints
2 Thessalonians 1:11–12
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. (ESV)
2 Thessalonians 2:16–17
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,  comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (ESV)
2 Thessalonians 3:5, 16
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ ... Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. (ESV)
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. (ESV)
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. (ESV)
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,  always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)
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. (ESV)
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.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (ESV)
Romans 15:5–7, 13
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,  that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God …  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (ESV)
1 Thessalonians 3:9–13
For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,  as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you,  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. (ESV)
1 Thessalonians 5:23–24
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (ESV)
1 Corinthians 1:4–9
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,  that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,  who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (ESV)
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.  For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (ESV)
‡ All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. ESV Text Edition: 2016