Why You Should Pray For the Church
Something incredibly special happens when you accept Jesus as your Savior. In that moment, you are welcomed into the body of Christ.
Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. -Luke 15:10
Have you ever joined an organization or group, like a sorority, honors fraternity, or even a life group for college students at your church? When you commit yourself to being a part of that group, suddenly you have infinite resources, friends, alumni, and whatever else the organization has to offer, at your fingertips. You belong somewhere. You're a part of something greater than yourself.
Of all the organizations and groups in this world, the church of Christ is by far the largest and oldest. Abraham is a part of it. So is Moses, Joshua, Noah, Esther, Ruth, and King David. Later, Jesus, the apostles, and the thousands of members of the church written about in the book of Acts also joined the fold. Since then, hundreds of thousands - if not millions - have joined the church too. And many other names and faces through out history.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. -Ephesians 2:19-22
Some made it through persecution, torture, prison, famine, illnesses, slavery, and some of this world's gravest injustices. Others were tasked as leaders, prayer warriors, preachers, martyrs, teachers, writers, advocates, missionaries, and too many other callings to list here. Each one had a past and sins worthy of death. But at some point, each one encountered our Heavenly Father and answered the call to become a child of the King of Kings. As such, we became something more than just a group of people with a shared purpose or cause: we became a family.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. -John 1:12-13
Today, here we are. Some of us may have been members of this family for years. Others, days. And some, maybe you're still trying to decide whether you should answer His call (if that's the case, email us - we'd love to chat with you!).
If any of you are married or have children, then you know that each of these relationships means that you no longer live for only yourself: you have more mouths to feed, more hearts to nurture, more prayers to say, and more responsibilities to bear. In return, you have a support system, a shoulder to cry on, love, and encouragement in abundance.
This is especially true when you join the church of Christ. In its folds, you'll find solace, refuge, strength, encouragement, love, friendship, and grace beyond human understanding. But the unique thing about this gathering of souls is that it's not about receiving, but about giving - not out of duty or some sort of strings attached clause, but because where Jesus is, love abounds. And where love is, there is humility, service, kindness, selfless giving, and sacrifice. Because love CAN'T live any other way.
There are many ways you can serve the church of Christ and your brothers and sisters of faith. But, the most basic and the one that every single one of us is called to is prayer. Now, for years, I was not sure how to pray for the church, and so, a simple variation of "God bless your church" seemed to suffice.
But then, on the pages of my Bible, I encountered people like Moses, Nehemiah, Esther, and Apostle Paul. These people (and many more!) had a heart for God's children.
Many times, Moses came before God and interceded on the behalf of the people of Israel. When they sinned and fell away, Moses begged for mercy (Exodus 32, 34:8-10). As the great city of Jerusalem lay in ruin, Nehemiah wept, prayed and fasted for God's people like it was for his own salvation (Nehemiah 1). And then there was Esther, a young Jewish girl thrust into the public eye and a royal life. She could have saved her own life. Instead with prayer and fasting, she spoke up for her people (Esther 4:13-16, Esther 8). Almost every epistle written by Apostle Paul begins and/or ends with his fervent and constant prayer for the members of God's church (2 Timothy 1:1-7, Colossians 1:1-8).
And so I realized how selfishly I was living. I was taking encouragement and substance from the church but rarely passing on that goodness to other members.
Now, like me, you may be skeptical that a single person's prayers could have any impact on prayer needs of such great magnitude. But, if I trust God to handle my own personal needs and prayer requests, why do I doubt that He can also do that for someone else out there who I may not personally know? You may not know of that one Christian being persecuted for her faith somewhere across the world, but God knows.
In addition there, is something to be said about numbers. Say you don't want to go to some event. One friend asks you. You say no. Another friend joins in. The no is a bit hesitant this time, but still a no. But if you add a couple more friends, your answer may start to shift. Because there is strength in numbers! If every person reading this article today united together to each say a prayer for the above needs, imagine the collection of prayers that will accumulate by the throne of our God in heaven!!
I am reminded of the story of the widow described in Luke 18:1-8. She persistently petitioned the judge regarding her cause, and eventually her petition was granted because she had just annoyed the judge to a point where he could not say no!
Let me tell you this: carrying someone else's burdens before God -- that kind of sacrifice and selfless love - it doesn't go unnoticed by our heavenly father.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2
In Matthew 16:24-27, Jesus says that the reward is great for those who lose their lives for Christ. Because while you are carrying the needs of the church before the altar of God, He will be working in your life to fulfill your needs in abundance.
If God has pricked your heart to pray for His people - for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ - tune in tomorrow for the six ways you can pray for the church today.
PS. For more encouragement, check out this sermon clip that relates to the topic of praying for others to find God and to be strengthened in Him.