Here is what the church of Jesus Christ should be praying for.
Jesus was a Man of prayer for sure, often rising early in the morning while it was still dark, and the disciples saw this and so they asked Him how to pray and He gave them the template or model of prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, but what was it that Jesus prayed about so very often. A typical day for Jesus was when, “rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). Jesus was always thinking about glorifying God in His prayer and that is often what He prayed for as in John 17:1 where it says He prayed, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” but also He prayed for His disciples, as when He said, “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours” (John 17:9) and “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Jesus prayed for His disciples but for those who would later believe in Him, saying “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word” (John 17:20). Jesus prayed for God to be glorified and for His disciples in His day but also for those who would later put their trust in Him like those of us in the church today.
The Early Church’s Prayers
The first century church were prayer warriors and they needed it since the persecution extremely fierce in their day and so the early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42) and on one occasion, “when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). The disciples of the first century church stated that, “we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4) and that’s just what they did. They devoted themselves to the Word of God, to evangelism, but certainly to prayer for nothing could be done without prayer.
Not everyone mentioned in the New Testament that prayed were Jews. In fact, “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:1-2), “About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:3-4). Here was a Gentile that was praying and was heard by God, so prayers of those we might not expect to be heard by God often are, as in the case of Cornelius. At about the same time, “Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray” (Acts 10:9), showing that the Apostle Peter was a man of prayer but in this case, he didn’t expect to have his prayer answered to go and share the gospel with a Roman centurion, however, we know that prayer has no boundaries and since God is no respecter of persons, He will hear the prayers of those who are genuinely fearing God and that was Cornelius in this case.
Prayers for One Another
Just after James, the brother of John was martyred, Herod saw how happy this made the Jews so Herod “put [Peter] in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church the Apostle Peter was in prison” (Acts 12:4-5). Herod no doubt had planned Peter’s execution next but God had other ideas. It was “when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands” (Acts 12:6-7). Peter said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting” (Acts 12:11) so “When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate” (Acts 12:12-14). The church had been praying for Peter, I am sure, but when he was freed, they didn’t believe it, telling Rhoda, “You are out of your mind” (Acts 12:15).
The church should be praying for God to be glorified, they should be praying for lost souls to come to Christ and be saved, they should be praying for one another, and they should be praying for God’s kingdom to come when all His glory will be on display and He will judge the world in righteousness. Nothing that happens will not be hidden and what is done in secret will be made known to everyone, so today, if you have never trusted in Christ, repent and believe and you will be saved…or you will be judged after death (Heb 9:27) or at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:12-15).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.