I have lived in many places and found the need to pray for the local church in whatever context I am in. I want to challenge the body of Christ to do the same, but have found that many do not know where to start.
How do we pray for our local church and why should we start? We can pray for the local church in a Biblical way, or in the small things that we are aware of at our home churches. We should start to pray for the local church because there is a lot happening in our American culture, and the church needs to be equipped well. Our prayers for the local church will move Heaven and that is crucial. This also bridges the gap of the body of Christ, unifying the body through prayer over the local church.
I’ going to break down Biblical reasons to pray, what that looked like for the church and how we can model that today. All of these things are crucial, especially the need to pray for the local church.
Call to Pray
As Christians, we are called to pray without ceasing. The Lord has set up His Kingdom up around prayer and the importance of it. As we ask, He responds and things happen. If we are not asking, less things will happen for His glory.
Throughout Scripture we see different people calling out for help in prayer to the Lord.
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.Psalm 17:6 NIV
Here, David is calling out to the Lord in prayer. We can see that as David is calling on the Lord in prayer, He also proclaims truth about Him. The truth is that God will answer David.
In the New Testament we learn from Jesus’ life the importance of prayer through His consistency in drawing away to pray in the secret place. We also are given a call to pray, ask, expect, believe, by Jesus Himself.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.Mark 11:24 NIV
This command was not meant just for the disciples that He was speaking to, it was meant for the whole body of Christ even today. Our call to pray is spoken by the much of Jesus Himself, all for the Glory of Christ.
Paul’s Prayer for The Church
In Ephesians 1 Paul is rejoicing with the local church in Ephesus for the ways the Lord has shown up in their lives. He is excited for the grace they received freely. Overall Paul is agreeing with the church in thankfulness for all God provided for them through Jesus.
Paul does not stop at thankfulness, though. He acknowledges all of the goodness God provided through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But, then he continues to pray for the church to give them wisdom and revelation of who Jesus is.
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.Ephesians 1:16-19 NIV
If we look at Paul’s prayer for the local church in Ephesus we see quite a few reasons to pray.
For wisdom and revelation. The church, especially in this American culture, needs wisdom and revelation for how to handle things coming up around us. There are many controversial topics floating around the culture that everyone tends to look at the church for answers about. This can be a big place the church will fail or has failed, leaving a bad reputation of the church. Wisdom and revelation will be helpful for the church to navigate those controversial topics through the lens of Christ’s thoughts and love for His people.
The wisdom and revelation, in Paul’s prayer is reference to the knowledge of who Jesus is. This is also necessary for the church today because of all of those controversial topics and things coming up and against the church today.
Paul also prays for the eyes of the church’s hearts to be enlightened with the hope that He has called them. As a church we need to be praying for the eyes of hearts to be enlightened as well. It is necessary to pray for because, like Paul says, it brings a hope and awareness of His glorious inheritance and great power.
I believe that this is so important for the church to grasp because when we can understand the power we have received in the Spirit; our prayers will follow in suit. The call to pray for the local church is one to pray for the body of believers to see Jesus and reflect Him. To read the Word and understand the calling over all believers, and not run in the other direction.
Big and Small Prayers
We have now covered the reason for praying, but how to start is a great question.
The local church, to me, is a church within driving distance that I could get to easily on a Sunday morning. I think of the surrounding area’s churches as the local church. The body of believers around my area is also, to me, the local church.
Some prayers that could be considered more broad, big prayers could include:
- Prayer for revival in the local church.
- Prayer for all of the families in the city to be saved.
Any big prayers would be more impersonal than small prayers. Those could include:
- Prayer for individual families, for their parenting, and children.
- Prayer for specific, personal things that you may know from conversations with people in your community.
No matter what your prayers are, the Lord will hear them and answer you. It is not necessary to categorize them, I just included those to help your brain start to churn. The best way to pray for the local church is through asking the Holy Spirit what to pray for, then come in agreeance with Him for the local church.
The Body of Christ
Throughout the New Testament we learn about the Body of Christ and the importance to work together as one body. Prayer is necessary for the body, it unifies us.
When Paul talks in Romans about each person bringing a different body part to the body of Christ, he explains we need each other. There is not one part of the body we do not need. So, as we pray for each other that is bringing together, in unity, the body of Christ. Not only will it unify the local church, but will unify families, and the church as a whole.
Most importantly, praying for the local church, just like anything else, brings unity between the body and the Lord. We should be in prayer for each other, it is crucial.
Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.Romans 12:5 HCSB