Today, we conclude our message series “Touching God.” In this series we’re talking about some aspects of prayer that we tend to forget about or not give enough attention to.
So to begin with this morning, let’s think about the primary purpose of prayer. Is prayer simply to help us make it in our lives? Is its primary purpose to reduce our pain and increase our happiness? I believe that the answer to those questions is No. The primary purpose of prayer is not simply about ourselves and our needs.
Let’s look briefly at how the Lord’s Prayer, the model prayer that Jesus taught, begins.
Matthew 6:9-10 (ESV) Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
The prayer begins not with us, but with focusing on God. We pray that His name would be honored, in our lives and in our world. Then we are to pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ Although this does refer to the future coming of Jesus, its primary purpose is for here and now. The goal of prayer, the goal of our lives as believers is that God’s will would be done on earth, right now, as it is perfectly done in heaven. That is God’s kingdom coming. In God’s kingdom, God’s will is done, so the more God’s will is done, the more the kingdom comes.
How is God’s will done on this earth? His will is done through people. People do God’s will as God changes people’s lives. As people become believers in Jesus, God changes their hearts so that they desire to do His will. As people grow and mature as believers, they become more and more like Jesus, doing God’s will increasingly.
Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Notice in Jesus’ command to us there are two basic phases in what we are to do and how we are to pray. The first phase is to make disciples, we are to seek to see people become believers in Jesus. The second phase is that we are to teach these new disciples to obey all Jesus’ commands, which includes making more disciples.
Today’s message is entitled “Pray for Others.” There are two and only two spiritual kinds of people in the world today. Most of the people in the world are unbelievers, they’re not saved. The other kind of people are believers in Jesus, people who are saved. So, in our message today on praying for others, we’re going to look at how to pray for both kinds of people, unbelievers and believers. So, let’s get started. How should we …
1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
The natural person is this verse is an unbeliever. The things of the Spirit and God’s Word seem to be foolishness to such a person. They simply don’t make sense to him. The reason is that to understand spiritual things, you must be born again and have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. As we’ll see, prayer can open a door for an unbeliever to begin to understand what it means to believe in Jesus.
This first verse makes it clear that we can’t argue or reason someone into becoming a believer, without the working of the Holy Spirit in their life. The Holy Spirit is released to work in an unbeliever’s life through prayer. Let’s just step back a bit from talking about praying for individual unbelievers and talk about how we can influence the our country.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV) First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
Government leaders are a mixture of unbelievers and believers, with undoubtedly a majority of unbelievers. We are to pray for our government leaders, whether we agree with their policies or not. How are we to pray for them? We are to pray that they would lead our country so that believers could lead peaceful, quiet, godly and dignified lives. In other words, we are to pray that our government leaders would govern in such a way that the church and believers could worship and evangelize unimpeded from any government interference or persecution. When we pray in such a way and God answers those prayers, the atmosphere of the country will be conducive for more people to be saved. We must …
1 Timothy 2:3-4 (ESV) This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
This next verse, after the ones commanded us to pray for our government leaders, makes it clear that the purpose for praying for leaders is for the salvation of unbeliever’s. In these verses, we see clearly that God desires every last person to be saved, without exception. To be saved is to come to understand the truth, rather than to believe falsehoods.
Does this verse mean that everyone will be saved? Not at all. Even though God desires everyone to be saved, each person has a will. Some will choose to believe and others will choose not to be believe. Our part is to believe that God desires to save those who He has placed in our lives and spheres of influence. As we pray for them, God’s Spirit moves in their lives, drawing them to Himself. So we must …
2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
The god of this world is Satan. Satan has the power to blind the spiritual eyes or minds of unbelievers, so they cannot see the truth of the gospel. As we talked previously, it seems as foolishness to them, it simply does not make sense, they can’t see it. We must pray that their spiritual eyes would be opened so they could see the light of the Gospel.
In this message, we’re focusing on prayer. But prayer must be coupled with the witness of words. As the blinders on their spiritual eyes are lifted, we must also speak to those that we praying for about the Gospel. We can invite them to church to that they can hear the truth. Not only should we pray for their eyes to be opened, we must …
2 Timothy 2:25a-26 (ESV God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Here’s another image of the state of an unbeliever. They have been captured by the devil and are living their lives unknowingly for him rather than for God. In the devil’s snare, they don’t understand the truth and live in sin and guilt. In order to become a believer, the first step is to humble yourself and confess to God that you have sinned. To repent is to confess your sin to God and choose to turn away from it to follow God. Repentance requires the conviction of the Holy Spirit and a humility to admit wrong as you turn to follow God. We must pray for the God to work in their lives to bring repentance.
Let’s watch a short video about a woman, whose mother prayed for her for years until she finally surrendered her life to Jesus. It’s called “Power of Prayer.”
Who has God placed in your life to pray for to be saved? It could be a relative, a co-worker, a neighbor or a friend. Maybe you have a number of people in your life that you don’t know whether they are saved or not. The first step is to begin to pray and talk to them to find out if they are saved. Just because someone believes in God doesn’t mean they’re saved. Just because someone goes to church doesn’t mean they’re saved. What matters is whether they have repented and put their faith in Jesus Christ. The fruit of a saved person’s life will be that they live like Jesus and are part of a Bible-believing church family.
So, make a list of people you know who aren’t saved and those you’re not sure about. Begin to pray for them and seek God’s direction on how to be a witness to them. One easy way to share the Gospel is to invite them to church where they’ll hear the Gospel every Sunday. Not only should we pray for unbelievers, we are to …
Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
In the Bible all believers are called saints. So, in this verse we are instructed to pray for the other believers in our church family. Why? Because we all need prayer in order to stay on course for God. What are we to pray for other believers? There are many answers to that question in Scripture, but today, we will look at four ways to pray for other believers.
Ephesians 3:16 (ESV) that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
We are to pray for other believers to be strengthened through the power of the Holy Spirit. The opposite of being strong in the Spirit is to be weak. When we are weak, we will not be able to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. And we will be susceptible to temptation and the enemy’s attack.
The Bible clearly states that we reap what we sow. When you are praying for others to be strong, God will make sure that others are praying for you. The net result is that the entire church family is strengthened here at Life Church. When you’re part of a spiritually strong church, you will be blessed. A strong church is not measure in the number attending but in the spiritual strength of the church. You can have a larger weak church and a smaller strong church. We want to be a strong church as we continue to grow larger.
Matthew 6:13 (ESV) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Oftentimes when we pray the Lord’s prayer, we forget that it is not just about us individually. In verse 13, we are to pray lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. The us refers to other believers in your church family here at Life Church. We are to pray for one another that we don’t fall into temptation. We are to pray for one another that we are protected from Satan’s attacks.
The Bible likens the church family to a body. When one part of the body is wounded, either through giving in to temptation or being attacked by the devil, the whole body or church suffers. So, as we protect one another through prayer, we are protecting the entire church and ourselves as well.
So, the first two ways we are to pray for one another are a type of defensive prayer. Next we must pray for one another for each one to fulfill the God-given purpose. We can summarize our purpose in two basic ways. Our first purpose is to serve in the ministry of the church toward other believers.
Ephesians 4:12 (ESV) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Again, we see the word saints here, referring to other believers. The purpose of the church leaders is to equip believers for the work of ministry. Ministry is simply serving one another in the church family, so that the church effectively carries out its mission. The work of ministry builds up the body of Christ, which is the local church. As each believer in the church family does their part, the entire church grows spiritually and becomes more effective in its mission.
What is ministry? Everything that is needed for the church to function. Ministry is working in children’s ministry, ushering, giving, regularly attending, being part of a small group, helping clean the church, praying, serving on the worship team, serving on the security team, serving in outreach events and the list could go on and on. Every regular attender and member should be involved in ministry. Again, as you help serve others, your own needs will be met as well. As believers, not only must we serve one another through ministry, our second purpose is to …
Ephesians 6:19 (ESV) and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
Paul asked for prayer for himself in this verse, that he would be bold in being a witness for Jesus. If Paul needed prayer to be a courageous witness, how much more do we. Pray for other believers in the church to have the boldness to speak to their friends, relatives and workmates about Jesus. Pray that they would have opportunities to invite people to church and that the people they invite would come.
The latest statistics are that only 20% of adults now regularly attend church. So, we have great opportunity to invite and speak to people about Jesus. Of course, as we are praying for others, we are included in these prayers as well. For each of us needs the very things that we are praying for others in the church family. It’s not enough just to see someone saved and added to the church family. Each believer needs to have the boldness to be a witness for Jesus.
Just this last month, we’ve begun a Prayer Team at Life Church to help us focus on praying for our church and for those we are seeking to reach. The Prayer Team is open to all regular attenders and members of the church. When you join the Prayer Team, you will be sent a link to our current Prayer Guide. The Prayer Guide is online, so you can access it from your phone or computer. The Prayer Guide will be updated weekly, so we encourage you to access it online rather than printing it out. We have begun to add Scripture references that refer to particular prayer requests. Clicking on the reference will bring up the verse for you.
We ask that those joining the Prayer Team make it their goal to pray at least 5 minutes a day for the church. This includes praying for the believers in the church family, as well as praying for those you and we are reaching out to.
God desires us to be people of prayer and a church of prayer. The more we pray, the more blessing we will see in our lives and in our church family. God calls us to pray for unbelievers that need to have a relationship with Jesus. We also are called to pray for the other believers in our church family. This Christmas season, let’s pray that God would help us reach more people for Him. I look forward to what God is going to do as we grow in our prayer life as a church.