As a pastor, I get overwhelmed with prayer requests. Many times I pray to the Lord to be with so and so or I pray that He would please heal this person and meet their needs. Maybe I pray this because I get tired and at times physically drained from doing all I can for the church. There are moments when I second guess if I am praying correctly.
However, the Apostle Paul’s practice of prayer is very helpful. It helps me to name every individual by name to bestow Paul’s prayer on them.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
(Ephesians 3:14–21 NIV11)
Ephesians 3:14-21 is a prayer that should be prayed for every individual that comes to church. There are four things that Paul mentions in his prayers.
The first thing is to pray for strength; i.e. pray for members to be strong and to be able to stand against the evil one. Not only that, but also to stand strong against the battles they have within their hearts and in their lives. It is also to stand strong against the sin that they still battle with. Praying for strength also involves the members being deeply immersed in the scriptures.
Praying for strength then is standing against the wiles of the evil one. When the result of the prayers come in, God gets the glory.
The second thing is the indwelling of Jesus Christ. Jesus must reside in the hearts of the people and in the church. It’s not enough to say Jesus is with our church, but yet we also need to say Jesus is in our church. To say Jesus indwells means that he is at home in the heart of the church and its members.
When Christ begins to indwell the heart, he becomes the master of one’s heart in life. The heart actually is the throne room of life. That is where he stores whatever he cherishes most. If Jesus is absent from the heart, then he is not sitting on the throne within us.
So as leaders we pray for Jesus to take up residence in the hearts of the members and the church.
Third is for the church to be deeply rooted and established in love. What this means is the church’s desire for God must be taught and founded on Christ’s love. The church must practice the love of Christ among each other, in their community and the world. Christ’s love for the church must be the foundation for every member.
When the church begins to love, there is no room for hatred, bitterness, discouragement, false witnesses, and many other things that are not good. Love promotes peace, joy, goodness and the rest of the fruits of the spirit. A vibrant congregation must act out of the love that God gives.
The fourth area is for the church to know the love of Christ. A vibrant congregation must provide a place where people can know how to walk with God. Pray that the people must be consumed by the love of God.
To know the love of Christ is to desire him totally. To know the love of Christ is to be completely engulfed by his presence.
The church should be able to show that loving God means to walk, live, and commune with him. Praise God that he allows us to pray in this manner for the church.
Let us learn how to pray for the church as the apostle Paul did.
Written by Rev. Stanley W. Jim
Pastor of Window Rock CRC, Window Rock, AZ
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