NEEDING PURPOSE – PRAY FOR CHURCH
“…when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” Ephesians 1:15-19 The Message (MSG)
This last devotion is to encourage you not to forget to pray for your local church. If you are not a member of any a church currently, you might not see any benefit in doing this. Nevertheless, if you care about the establishment of God’s kingdom, then you should pray for the church because it is the pillar of God’s kingdom here on Earth.
Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer for the church came from his understanding that it is God who gives life to the church, directs its growth, and controls its destiny.
So Paul prays to God on behalf of the church because there are genuine believers in that church, whose actions bear witness to the genuine faith they have in Jesus Christ by the love that they show to all.
What is the purpose of the church and why should you pray for it? Maybe you haven’t seen or found any reasons to pray for it. Shouldn’t pastors and their wives be the ones doing this?
There are different reasons I can give you.
- Church is Family.
Paul says that when he heard the church’s outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, he couldn’t stop thanking God and praying for that church.
Church is the strength of our community, and if we don’t have strong churches, our communities will collapse.
For many people, the only ‘family’ they depend on is their church. It is where they first experienced love, acceptance, and security. Even though they may have a blood family, a church is where they first experienced a sense of belonging and first understood the meaning of family.
- Every church has a different role in society.
The church in Corinth had a different role than the church in Philippi, Galatia, Ephesian etc. Likewise- today there are many branches of the church; each having their own strengths and purposes. They each understand, teach and practice different truths of God’s Word, and thus together bring a full balance of truth to the whole Body of Christ and to the world.
- The Church is under spiritual attack.
The enemy knows that the church is God’s people, and is His greatest passion and desire. That’s why he wants so badly to destroy it. The church is the most persecuted institution in the world. In many places in the world where there is no religious freedom, he tries to destroy it from outside. We need to pray for these people to be strong in faith in spite of what they may have to face.
The enemy also tries to destroy the church from within. As I mentioned earlier, different parts of the church have different strengths, and thus, bring balance when in unity. But unfortunately, pride often causes some branches to feel that they are better than the others, and even to teach so. This brings disunity in the Body of Christ and keeps the world from ‘knowing us by our love’, as Jesus desires. Even within of your local church, you can be sure that Satan is doing his best to destroy relationships and create division so that its purpose cannot be fully fulfilled.
- The leaders of the church need prayer the most.
Because pastors and church leaders are to be the example and lead the Body, they are under even greater attack, pressure, and may even experience more temptation. The direction of each church and the church as a whole is greatly dependent on its leaders’ ability to follow God. There are countless ways that the enemy tries to distract them from doing this.
So like Paul, I encourage you to pray for our churches. Pray that our church leaders may know God more and that they gain wisdom and a revelation to know where God wants the church to go. Pray that it is discerning and becomes aware of the role it has in building community and future leaders.
There is a visible disconnect between the community and the church right now.
Fewer people are attending church each year. According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, less than 20 percent of Americans attend church every weekend.
There are many reasons why people may decide to leave the church. But it’s more tragic when people leave because they have been hurt and let down by the institution.
This can happen if the role of the church is not clearly defined. People may get hurt, disconnected and lost. Somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year according to Southern Baptist researcher Thom Rainer.
Among these, I believe, are churches that probably didn’t have their role in the community defined, so they just tried to copy what they saw other successful churches doing, and eventually failed because that was not what God had called them to do.
So pray for your church and be specific in your prayer.
Paul’s Prayer is also very specific.
He prays for a “spirit of wisdom and of revelation” (v17)
He prayed that the “eyes of their heart may be enlightened” (v18).
He prayed that the Ephesian saints may come to understand the hope of God’s calling, the glory of His inheritance in the saints and the surpassing greatness of His power.
There are several verses that you can meditate on, and they will guide you on how to pray for the church. Here are a few specific things that you can pray for, which are found in some of these verses.
You can pray that your church is:
– Fully pleasing to God, and being fruitful in every good work -Col 1:10
– Being renewed in the spirit -Eph 4:23
– Showing meekness, longsuffering: bearing with and forgiving one another -Col 3:12
Pray that it:
– Puts on tender mercies, kindness, humility -Col 3:12
– Dwells together in the unity of the faith -Eph 4:13
– Recognizes those who labor among us AND esteems them highly in love for their work’s sake. -1 Thes 5:12-13
– Speaks the same thing, with no divisions among themselves -1Cor 1:10
– Stands fast in one spirit, striving together for the faith -Phil 1:27