- Parent Category: Bible Reference
- Category: What the Bible Teaches - R.A. TORREY
- Published on Monday, 21 May 2007 22:07
III. WHO SHOULD WE PRAY FOR? 1 Chronicles 4:10 — "And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldst keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested." <19A604> Psalm 106:4-5 — "Remember me, O LORD, with the favor that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance." 2 Corinthians 12:7-8 — "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me." Hebrews 5:7 — "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared." John 17:1 — "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee."
First Proposition: We should pray for ourselves.
A prayer for self is not by any means necessarily a selfish prayer. We may pray for something for ourselves in order that God may be glorified by our receiving it ( John 17:1; Psalm 50:15). If we would pray more often for ourselves, God would be more glorified in us, and we would be a greater blessing to others. It was well for the world that Jesus spent so much time in prayer for Himself. If we would be fit to pray for others, we must spend much time in prayer for ourselves. It is a bad sign when one is always praying for others and never for himself. He is not like his Master. James 5:16 — -"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Romans 1:9 — "For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers."
Second Proposition: We should pray for one another — i.e., believers should pray for fellow-believers. Ephesians 6:19-20 — "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel. For which I am an ambassador in bonds; that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." Colossians 4:3 — "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds." 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 — "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith." Acts 13:2-3 — "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me, Barnabas and Saul for the work of whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." Matthew 9:38 — "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest."
Third Proposition: We should pray for ministers of the word.
Those who God has called to devote their lives to the ministry of the word should be the special objects of the prayers of God's people. The neglect of prayer on the part of God's people accounts largely for the absence of power on the part of God's ministers. 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 — "For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints."
Fourth Proposition: We should pray for those who have been converted through our ministry.
It is remarkable how often Paul writes to his converts about his praying for them. We find Jesus also praying for His converts in John 17:9-26: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me, I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteousness Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."
It is to be feared that few modern ministers pray for their converts with the frequency and intensity that Paul did for his — "night and day praying exceedingly,'' he writes in one place. James 5:14,16 — "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:... Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Fifth Proposition: We should pray for sick brethren. 1 John 5:16 — -"If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it."
Sixth Proposition: We should pray for any brother we see sinning a sin not unto death. Ephesians 6:18 RV — "With all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."
Seventh Proposition: We should pray for all the saints.
Christ's prayer took in all believers in all ages ( John 17:9,20). Our sympathies, and consequently our prayers, should take in the whole church of Christ. It is astounding how narrow is the circle taken in by the prayers of the average Christian. Every child of God is my brother and should be remembered in my prayers. Let us give our prayers a wider sweep. (Compare to Psalm 36:10 — "O continue thy loving kindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.") 1 Chronicles 29:19 — "And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision."
Eighth Proposition: We should pray for our children. 1 Timothy 2:2-3 — "For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour."
Ninth Proposition: We should pray for our rulers.
I fear that most Christians today are grievously disobedient to God at this point. The present fashion is to rail at our rulers. This directly disobeys God's word (Jude 8:9 RV; 2 Peter 2:10-11; 1 Peter 2:17). Christians can accomplish far more for "good government" by praying than by railing at the powers that be. Jeremiah 29:7 — "And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace."
Tenth Proposition: We should pray for the city where we live.
A Christian should be interested in all lands and in all places. But we have a special responsibility and duty in prayer, as well as in service, toward the place where God puts us. Romans 10:1 — "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." Joel 2:17 — "Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, where is their God?" Isaiah 62:6-7 — "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth."
Eleventh Proposition: We should pray for Israel.
It is a sin not to. 1 Samuel 12:23 — "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way."
A special blessing is pronounced upon those who pray for Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is very dear to God. <19C206> Psalm 122:6-7 — "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces." 1 Kings 11:13 — -"Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen." Zechariah 2:7-8, 10-12 — "Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. For thus saith the LORD of hosts: After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye .... Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall be joined to the Load in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And the LORD shall inherit Judah, his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD for he is raised up out of his holy habitation." Luke 6:28 — "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you." Matthew 5:44 RV — "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you."
Twelfth Proposition: We should pray for those who despitefully use us and persecute us. (Compare to Luke 23:34 and Acts 7:60.) We have a special obligation of prayer toward those who do us wrong. 1 Timothy 2:1 — "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men."
We should pray for all men. The love of God takes in the world ( John 3:16); so should our prayers. But there are certain classes, as seen above, toward whom we have a special obligation of prayer.