“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.” (1 Timothy 2:1–2, ESV)
It might seem obvious that prayer is not something to give up for Lent. Lent is a season to focus on the spiritual disciplines. But as we think about the theme of serving this week, we consider a specific focus of prayer. It is offering prayer as intercession on behalf of others.
Paul tells young Timothy to pray for all people. This includes offering prayer on our behalf, but also on behalf of others. Sometimes we may tell people that we can at least pray for them. But that statement is wrong. Prayer is not the least we can do for someone. It is the most we can do for someone.
Martin Luther would say that when he got especially busy, he would devote the 3 or 4 most productive hours of his day to prayer. It says much about his belief in the power of prayer. God can do more in those 3 or 4 hours than we could ever do.
Something happens in us when we intentionally pray for others. Our perspective on the world changes. The way we look at other people is different. The people you were once angry towards, you now feel compassion. It might even happen that as you begin to pray that God will also move you to action in an area you once held apathy.
Many of us are not good at carving time out for prayer. When we do make time for prayer, our prayers are often focused on ourselves. But there is no end to the various groups of people for whom we can pray. Consider the list of 40 people for whom you could pray:
- Your spouse
- Your children
- Your parents
- Your friends
- Brothers and sisters in Christ at your local church
- Your pastor and his family
- People who serve and protect you (first responders and military)
- Those who govern (local, state, and national)
- Your enemies and those who would do you harm
- Those who have offended you
- The hungry
- The homeless
- Those in prison
- Missionaries serving in foreign countries
- Those experiencing divorce (especially children)
- Medical workers
- The addicted
- The lonely and depressed
- Those who have suffered the loss of a loved one and live in grief
- Those facing cancer or illness
- Those who are living as refugees from war or persecution
- The persecuted church
- The sex-trafficked
- Victims of racial discrimination and violence
- Those who suffer from domestic abuse
- Those facing their last days on earth
- The next generation and challenges/temptations they face
- Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners
- Creatives, artists, and designers who make the world a more beautiful place
- Volunteers who serve the need of others with the expectation of nothing in return.
- Those who have wandered from the faith or have a lukewarm faith.
- People who live apart from the grace of God and have not received the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
I did not complete the list. I left a few blank. There are certainly of other people and situations for whom we can pray. This is where I need your help. Help me fill in the blanks. Share additional people groups for whom we can pray in the comments section of this post. I am sure you have some great ideas.
Finally, my church will be doing a 24-hour prayer vigil on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday next week. We will be praying around the clock. If you have a prayer request to share with us, fill out the form greaterthings.today/prayer. We will be glad to pray for you.