When I hear a siren, I usually say, “Lord, please help whoever’s in trouble.” Sometimes I even add, “and please help those who are trying to help them.” It’s not just a habit, it’s a prayer. God hears His people when we pray and He will answer. He expects us to communicate with Him. Jesus said “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “be unceasing and persistent in prayer.”
Paul wrote to Timothy: “First of all, then, I urge that petitions (specific requests), prayers, intercessions (prayers for others) and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all people, for kings and all who are in [positions of] high authority, so that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 - Amplified Bible)
We are to pray for all people – those who are brothers and sisters in Christ and those who are not. Then Paul zeros in on kings and those who are in places of authority. We need to be praying for our national leaders, world leaders and all those who have positions of authority, whether great or small.
The reason they need our prayers can be found in verses 3-4. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” God desires that every person be saved. He also desires that everyone will come to a knowledge of the Truth. People we may never see face to face can be influenced by the prayers we pray for them. No matter how much authority they have, God’s authority is over them.
It’s interesting to note here that Nero ruled as emperor during the time of Paul’s writing. Nero brutally persecuted the church with unthinkable acts against them. But it is God’s will that ALL come to salvation through Jesus and to a knowledge of the truth. That even included Nero and every other leader.
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:44 to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Here again, we are to pray for everyone…even those who do evil to us. That’s difficult to do sometimes, but we find strength and release when we do. It keeps our spirits pure and opens a door for the offender to be saved.
James encourages us to pray for one another in the household of faith. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God - it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].” (James 5:16 - Amplified Bible)
We live in “perilous times”, and we need one another to help navigate through all the traps of the enemy. It’s time we rise up as a spiritual army of believers in Christ and hold one another up through prayer. We also need insight from the Holy Spirit to know how to pray for one another.
We pray when we need a job, a house, healing for our bodies, for circumstances to be changed, or marriages restored. And I believe God wants to give us those things. But there is something deeper and more lasting God wants for all of us.
Here is part of a prayer Paul prayed for the people of Ephesus: “[I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son].”
Paul knew something about revelation. He had a dramatic revelation of Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road. Before that time, he knew only facts he had been told about Jesus and his preconceived ideas of who Jesus was. But when he had a face to face revelation of Jesus – when Jesus pulled back the curtain and let Paul see Him as He is (His glory, majesty, power and Lordship) – he was never the same again. Jesus IS Lord, and suddenly Paul saw that. He said “Who are you Lord?” Jesus answered, “I’m Jesus, Who you are persecuting.” That revelation changed the whole direction of Paul’s life. He never forgot it. And here he prayed for this to happen to others!
Paul also prayed that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened. He knew something about that, too. After he saw Jesus on the Damascus Road, he was temporarily blind physically. Ananias, a servant of God, was sent to pray for him. When he prayed, it was like scales fell from Paul’s eyes and he could see again. It happened spiritually, too. Paul had a clear understanding of Who Jesus is and his eyes were opened to see Jesus in the Scriptures. He gained spiritual enlightenment instead of just a head knowledge of the facts.
We need a revelation of Jesus Christ. It’s not enough just to know some facts about Him. We can have an ongoing revelation of Jesus as we follow Him through the various circumstances in our lives. We can come to know Him personally and experientially as our Savior, Healer, Deliverer, Provider and Lord. But we need to begin to pray this prayer for ourselves and one another.
Here’s another prayer from Paul. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [that is, separate you from profane and vulgar things, make you pure and whole and undamaged - consecrated to Him - set apart for His purpose]; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete and [be found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 - Amplified Bible)
Paul prayed that they would be set apart. This same Spirit of power, wisdom and revelation will draw us away from the things of this world (of the flesh) to the things of God’s Spirit. (See Galatians 5:16-21.)
Jesus prayed this same prayer of separation for all His followers in John 17. “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but that You keep them and protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth.” (Amplified Bible) If we want to know Truth, we will read God’s Word and ask His Spirit to show us what it means to us. He will enlighten the eyes of our understanding when we do, and we can begin to work it out in our lives.
In Acts 4, we read another type of prayer. Peter and John healed a lame man at the Temple gate. They healed Him in the name and authority of Jesus. So, when a crowd gathered, Peter and John preached Jesus to them. The chief priests and religious rulers came and arrested them. It frustrated and infuriated them to hear anyone preaching and healing in Jesus’ name. They had just recently had Jesus crucified and thought it was all over.
The religious rulers interrogated the apostles and commanded them not to preach in Jesus’ name anymore. Then they threatened them and let them go, because the whole crowd had seen the man healed at the gate and they couldn’t deny it.
Peter and John went to where the believers were gathered together and told them everything that had happened. They told them how they had been commanded not to preach anymore in Jesus’ name. But they all knew Jesus had commanded them to preach in His name. So they prayed like this: “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:29-31
They didn’t pray that the persecution would stop. Jesus had already told them to expect it. They understood they were in the world. They also understood they were not of the world. They were set apart. They understood the power at work against them in the world, and they understood the power at work in and through them by the Spirit. They prayed for power to stand and continue to boldly do the work of the Lord. And God gave it to them.
Think about most of the prayers we pray. Most are defensive. Our backs are against the wall and we need God’s help. And He is more than willing to help us, but God also wants us on the offensive. He wants to do much more than just help us get by.
He wants to:
· Enlighten the eyes of our understanding – make the Scripture alive in our hearts
· Give us a fresh revelation of Jesus and a spirit of wisdom
· Give us boldness to speak
If we begin to pray these prayers for ourselves and one another, I believe we will see dramatic changes in ourselves, others, our churches, our communities, our nation, and the world.
“The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”