What do your daily prayers look like? When I consider my own prayers, I often find myself praying through a list of things I need help with or concerns I have for loved ones and friends. More often than not, my prayers focus on the temporal rather than the eternal, the physical rather than the spiritual. While such prayers are not wrong—for Jesus instructed us to pray for our daily bread—they are missing something. They are near-sighted.
Whenever I read Paul’s prayers in the Bible, I see what’s lacking in my own. Paul prays big prayers—prayers which stretch beyond the here and now and into eternity. The prayers he shares in his letters focus on the spiritual health of the church and the growth and spread of the gospel. Prayers such as this one to the church at Colossae: “we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (1:9-10).
Jonathan Edwards once noted, “…if we look through the whole Bible, and observe all the examples of prayer that we find there recorded, we shall not find so many prayers for any other mercy, as for the deliverance, restoration, and prosperity of the church, and the advancement of God’s glory and kingdom of grace in the world.” If the Bible places such an emphasis on these prayers, should not our prayers be the same?
As believers, united in Christ by faith and adopted into his family, we pray to the same Father in heaven. Imagine what might happen if we all came to the throne of grace and asked the Lord to strengthen his church? What if we prayed for the leadership of our churches each day? What if we asked for opportunities to shine a corporate light in our dark communities? What if we prayed for greater unity, a unity that shows the world who Christ is and what he has done (John 17:23)?
To that end, here is a prayer for the church.
A Prayer for the Church
Father in heaven,
I come before you today with a heavy burden on my heart. When I scroll through tweets and posts on social media, it grows heavier. I hear whispers and complaints among the saints and I am grieved. At times, I feel my own growing discontent and dissatisfaction. When I witness cynicism and disunity, my heart breaks. I come across articles proclaiming false gospels and am sickened.
I can relate to Paul’s anxieties for the church for I too worry for your Bride. So I come before today, asking for your grace to be at work in your church. You are rich in grace and have showered it upon us in Christ. You are a good Father, providing for your children all that we need. You are sovereign ruler over all things. You see our wayward hearts. You know of our conflicts. You are not surprised by leaders who fall into temptation and sin. You have warned us and called us to repentance (Rev. 2:5,16).
Forgive me for not loving your Bride as you have loved her in Christ. Forgive me for all the ways I try to do life on my own apart from the Body. Forgive me for keeping my gifts to myself and not using them to build up your church. Forgive me for not praying for its purity and peace. Forgive me for my own discontentment and dissatisfaction, for the ways I think the church should serve me, rather than I serve her. Forgive me for participating in gossip and furthering disunity.
Hear my prayer today as I bring the church before you. I pray for local church leaders, that they would watch over the flock you’ve entrusted into their care. I pray you would give them wisdom to spot false doctrine and point your sheep to the true gospel. I pray they would be committed to you, your word, and your mission. I pray they would be bold, godly, and blameless. Use them to equip the saints to do the work of ministry.
I pray for the church’s witness to the world around us. I pray we would be faithful and stand for what is right and true. May we not bow down to the culture of this age nor be influenced by its doctrine. Help us to shine a light in this dark world, drawing people to the truth of who you are and what you have done. Equip us and strengthen us to share the gospel wherever it needs to be heard. May we not cease our efforts until all the world hears.
I pray for our unity, both in the local church and in the church universal. May we be known by our love for one another. May we show one another honor, put each other first, and serve one another’s needs. I pray there would not be a needy person among us because we always share what we have with each other. May we show forbearance toward one another and forgive each other just as Christ has forgiven us. Oh, that the world would look at the church and see Christ in her!
Father, preserve and keep us until the day of Christ’s return. Like a bride waiting for her bridegroom, sanctify and purify us so that we would be beautiful and radiant, ready for that glorious day.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
About the Author:
Christina received her undergraduate degree from Covenant College and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including TGC, Revive Our Hearts, Desiring God, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Ligonier Ministries. She is the content editor for enCourage and the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament , Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish, Idols of a Mother’s Heart and Sufficient Hope: Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Moms. Christina serves on the advisory board at Covenant College and is on the national women’s ministry team as Regional Adviser of the Southeast. She prefers her coffee black and from a French press, enjoys antiquing, hiking, traveling, and reading. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two boys. You can find her at www.christinafox.com, @christinarfox and on Facebook.