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…