What do you pray when you pray for others?
Everywhere you turn people are hurting. Wherever you look people need the Lord. We all need the touch of his grace and blessing in our life. We bring specific requests to him just as he invites us: for healing, for reconciliation, and for meeting us in a certain need. And we’re assured that God hears our specific prayers and answers them according to his magnificent will and nature, even when it remains a mystery to us.
But there’s even more power in a different prayer. Consider Paul’s example in Colossians 1. He really loves the people to whom he is writing this letter. So much so, that he NEVER stops praying for them! And this is what he prays for them, that they would:
- Know God’s will
- Be filled with his wisdom and understanding
- Live a life worthy of the Lord
- Bear fruit through good works
- Grow in the knowledge of God
- Be strengthened by his power
- Endure trials with patience and joyful thanks
Why does Paul pray this way and why should we pray this way for ourselves, our friends and loved ones…even our enemies? Because God is the one who rescued us from darkness. Because he is the one who holds all things together, even when to us it appears that life is spinning out of control. Because he has reconciled us, through his Son Jesus, who lives in the lives of those who are fully devoted to him. Because Christ in us is our hope of glory. Because God is enough! All this is possible because of the penetrating work of the gospel to transform lives that are receptive to him.
Our best prayers for others extend beyond the request to fulfill a specific need. Our best prayers are for others to be so filled with God’s truth and grace that they overflow with victory in the face of difficulty, joy in the presence of sorrow, and confidence in the face of fear.
Don’t hesitate to pray for specific needs when praying for yourself and others. But also pray a potentially much more powerful prayer… That we would be filled with knowing God’s will, his wisdom, and understanding so that we can live faithful lives worthy of him, by the power of his Spirit.
That’s my prayer for myself and that’s my prayer for each of you.