You are prodded awake from a sound asleep. You glance at the clock. It is 3AM. A name comes to your mind of an old friend whom you haven’t seen in three years. You have the sense that you should pray for the individual. What would you ask God to do for them?
You are rummaging through one of the drawers in your desk. You discover an old photo of seven friends camping together. You realize you haven’t heard from two of them in quite some time. You are prompted to pray for them. What would you include in your prayer?
Your best friend enlisted in the Army. You have not heard from him in three months since he left for basic training. Something tells you to pray for him, but you aren’t sure how. What would you pray?
How do you pray for someone when you don’t know what their needs are? How do you go beyond, “God bless so-and-so”? How do you pray when you haven’t got a prayer?
That question prompted me to study the prayers of the apostle Paul. As he sat in prison in Rome, he was prompted to pray for the churches in Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossae. His prayers provide a model of how & what to pray other believers, even when we may not know their needs.
It had been 5-6 years since the apostle Paul was in Ephesus. He did not have an email update from the church or watched CNN Headline News to know their exact needs. Yet Paul asked for two specific things in regards to the Ephesian believers. Following his example, we can pray that other Christ followers will understand who they are in Jesus Christ and that they will grow stronger spiritually.
When you pray for others, pray that they will understand who they are in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:15-23). We can pray that our friends will come to know God intimately (17) so that they will know three facts—the past call of salvation that produced hope (18a), the future inheritance that God has in his saints (18b), and the present power of God that is available to those of us who believe (19).
When you pray for others, pray that they become stronger spiritually (Ephesians 3:14-21). We can pray that God will strengthen our friends in four areas—strengthened with power (16-17a), have deep roots and firm foundations (17b), comprehend the love of Christ is all its dimensions (18-19a), and be filled up to God’s fullness (19b).
If you compare these two prayers, you discover:
|“that you may KNOW”||
“that you may BE”
Know what Christ has done for us
Put the blessings to work in our lives
If you truly understood God chose you, God values you, and God has given you power, would it change how you live? If you became stronger spiritually, allowed Christ to be at home in your life, had a solid foundation, understood the vast dimensions of the love of God, and were filled to the fullness of Christ, would it change how you live? Knowing the difference it would make in your life, pray those same requests on behalf of other Christ followers.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 23, 2016. It is part of a series on Prayer: Moving Heaven for Earth. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.