Praying for Ourselves vs. Praying for Others

Praying for Ourselves vs. Praying for Others July 15, 2022

Last week I attended the annual conference of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, which had an abundance of good presentations.

I was struck by a sermon by Rev. Michael Frese, one of the pastors of our host congregation, Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  He exhorted us to not only pray for ourselves but to pray for others.

He credited Chrysostom for the following observation:  When we pray for our own needs, we focus on ourselves.  But when we pray for the needs of others, “love rises.”

That is to say, one way we can learn to love our neighbors–which is foundational to vocation, which is all about loving and serving our neighbors–is to pray for them.

I found that very convicting.

Of course we are to pray for our own needs (Luke 11:5-13).  But we should also remember to pray for the needs of other people (2 Corinthians 1:11).

One of the many facets of the genius of the Lord’s Prayer is that in it we pray both for ourselves and for others at the same time.  That is to say, it employs the first person plural:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

This is a corporate prayer, in which we individuals pray both for ourselves and for the rest of the group we are praying with–our congregation, our family, the people with whom we recite it in unison, or when we pray it alone whoever we envision–thereby asking God, our common Father, to provide daily bread and other physical needs to both me and to others; to forgive both me and others (including our enemies); to spare both me and others from trials and temptations; to deliver both me and others from evil.

By the way, since we are talking pronouns, in addressing Our Father, using the King James-era language, we refer to Him with the second person singular.  (Thee, thy, & thine are the singular form of the pronoun;  you, your, yours, & ye are plurals, the equivalent of “you all” or “yawl” for us Southerners.  Modern English dropped the singular and began using the plural form for both numbers.)

Even when we have important and desperate needs that we pray for, it is helpful to have someone else also pray for those needs.  In that way we can “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).  This is beneficial to both parties.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay 

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