|Step 8... Pray For Saints
Saints are not dead people who lived godly lives, but living people who have received Christ as their Savior and Lord. Paul calls all believers "saints and faithful brethren." A good way to start your prayer burden for people of your congregation is to assume they are indeed "saints and faithful brethren."
HOW TO PRAY FOR PEOPLE:
Study the prayers of the Apostle Paul as he lists what he prays for concerning each congregation. You can mirror his prayers by taking notes on what and how he prayed. Then outline your prayer so it is easy to remember.
GET TO KNOW PEOPLE:
Get to know the people of your church. When at church, in the sanctuary, walk up and down the isles stopping at pews to pray for individuals and families who sit there. It is better to pray specifically for two or three families than to pray generally for dozens by just listing their names. As you meet people and speak with them ask the Lord to show you how and what to pray for them.
WHAT WE ARE TO PRAY FOR:
- "pray one for another" (James 5:16) so that you can be healed. The passage generally refers to physical healing, BUT the prayer for one another is about our mutual weaknesses, faults, and sins. Job was not healed himself until he prayed for his friends who had treated him unfairly. (Job 42:10)
- "pray to forgive" those who trespass against us, those who don't like us, those who despitefully use us, those who don't or won't talk to us, those who make angry us, those who snub us, and those who are not yet our friends. Jesus said when we pray we should for it regularly. (Mat. 6:14-15)
- "stranger within our gates", that is the visitors that drop in to our church, and new families that appear once in a while among us. (3 John 1:5)
- "fatherless and widow(ers)", that is, those bereaved by a recent loss. Pray for the elderly who have lost a life long partner in the last year of two. Pray for families who have had a recent loss of a parent, child, or relative. For mothers who have had miscarriages. (James 1:27)
- "prosperity and blessing" on our brothers and sisters in Christ. (3 John 1:2) Pray for financial blessings, for restored losses, for jobs, promotions, and success.
- "a hedge of protection" about believers against sickness, spiritual attack from the enemy, temptation, accidents, etc. (Ezekiel 22:30)
- "marriages that are troubled," young couples contemplating marriage, young people to be kept pure. (1Pet. 3:7, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40)
- "spiritual growth" of our brothers in Christ. Paul often included outlines of the prayers he made for spiritual maturity of believers. Study them. Imitate them. (Eph. 1:16-19/ 3:14-19/ Philip. 1:9-10/ Col. 1:9-12
- "backslider", the prodigal sons and daughters, people who used to walk close to God, those overtaken in a fault, a vice, or a temptation. (1 John 5:16)
- "gifts to be manifest" in the church, and pray God to bring in other gifts and gifted people to strengthen the church. (Eph 4:11-16)
PRAY FOR DESPERATE NEEDS
Often we seem to be more concerned about "Aunt Suzie's bunion" than we are are about the really serious issues that assault the family of God. Make a deliberate effort to avoid praying for things that do no make a significant difference. If the matter is not of such a consequence as to break or burden our hearts then perhaps we are praying about the wrong things. Here are some serious matters to pray for:
- Those that are critically ill and dying.
- Marriages that are in trouble and failing.
- Family troubles, wayward children.
- Those taken over by sin, adultery, alcohol, drugs, sexual perversions.
- Those who are grieving over the loss of a spouse or child.
- Those situations that are beyond human help and need a miracle.
- Those who have experienced recent loss of job, home, financial loss, etc.
- Pray in the Spirit - wait on the Lord asking Him who you should be praying for. Wait for the Lord to send you a face or bring to memory a particular need, or to burden your heart for someone and something you knew nothing about.
- Pray for people by name - almost every church provides and updated name and address list for members of the congregation. Use this list to pray for one another. Begin by asking the Holy Spirit to guide you and give heart-burdens for each person you pray over.
- Pray for people by face - some churches have pictorial directories that are a good way to get familiar with the congregation. Use the directory as you pray the same as you would for the name and address list, but with the benefit of seeing them. I find it helpful especially when praying for children in each family.