Last Sunday I preached on Colossians 1:3-12. I focused on praying for one another through out the year, in particular, praying Scripture for one another. Too often our prayer requests revolve around things like jobs, pregnancies, health, money, etc. These are not bad things to pray for. When Christ tells us to pray, “Give us our daily bread” he is telling us that all the “mundane” things in our life matter to our heavenly Father. Paul says the same thing in Philippians 4:6-8. Those do matter to the Lord.
But too often this is where our prayers begin and end. We spend all of our time praying for our daily bread or the daily bread of our brothers and sisters. Paul is good corrective to this. He begins many of his letters with prayers. All of these prayers focus on the spiritual life of the congregation he is writing to. Here is his prayer from Colossians 1. I cut out middle section.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven…And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
How many of our prayers sound like this? How many of our prayers focus on the character of our brothers in Christ, instead of their specific situation? One of the ways I have found to correct this focus on circumstances is to pray for my brothers in Christ using a Scripture passage. Here is what I do:
I get a list in front of me of all the people I want to pray for. We have a church directory. I also have a list of pastors, family, and other friends I pray for. I work through these lists over several days.
Print out a Scripture passage I want to use as a guide for prayer. I put this in the front of my Bible.
Pray for my fellow Christians with the Scripture passage in front of me, using the language of the passage. I use the same passage for about two weeks. This allows me to pray the passage for everyone on my list and helps me become familiar with the Scripture passage.
You do not need to follow my pattern exactly. But I would encourage you to find a way to pray more Scripture. Here are 25 passages you can use to lift your fellow believers up before the throne of grace. Of course, there are many more, but these are the ones that came to mind. Almost any of the Psalms will work for this exercise. I just mention a few in the list.
Psalm 66 (A great Psalm for those who are suffering.)
Psalm 105 (These are both long and could be broken up.)
Any section of Psalm 119.
Daniel 9, Ezra 9, and Nehemiah 9
Ezekiel 34 (For pastors and other leaders.)
Matthew 5:3-12 (And the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.)
Matthew 10 (For missionaries and evangelists, especially.)
Romans 6 and 12
I Peter 1:22-2:25
I John 4:7-21
The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2:1-3:22
Remember the focus here is on intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ, particularly interceding for their spiritual growth. We should be giving thanks to God for our fellow Christians, as well as for God and his works. However, thanksgiving is not the focus in this post. Not all of these passage can be prayed exactly as they are. In another post I will address how we should pray these different passages.