Do We Pray for the Saints As We Ought?
“Brothers, pray for us.” (1 Th. 5.25).
Four simple words that are as binding as other more well-known statements from this chapter: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” (v.16-17) and “abstain from every form of evil” (v.22). Once we acknowledge the fact that we must be praying for our brethren in Christ, the next step would be to learn how to do so in a way that glorifies God and adheres to His written word. The prayers of the saints in Revelation 8 are described by John as rising before the throne of God as the smoke from burning incense. When our prayers for one another rise before our heavenly Father, the following verses help us understand how those prayers should “smell”.
This selection of passages is given “by way of reminder” (2 Peter 1.3) in order to provoke us to pray for our brethren in a way that reflects the deep love and concern for one another that Christians are expected to possess. As you read through these verses, underline or circle the sections of each passage that instruct us on how to properly pray for our brethren. As an example, the first passage has already been completed. Note here how Paul’s prayers for his brethren are consistent, specific (not praying in generalities), and Christ-centered.
“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 1.11-12)
“Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.” (Hebrews 13.18-19
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 John 2)
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” (Philemon 4-6)
“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.” (2 Tim. 1.3)
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” (2 Thess. 1.3)
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 1.2-3)
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” (Col. 4.12)
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” (Col. 4.2-4)
“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; being 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.” (Col. 1.9-12)
“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.” (Col. 1.3-5a)
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Phil. 1.3-5)
“You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” (2 Cor. 1.11)
“I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” (Rom. 15.30)
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” (Rom. 1.8-10)
After carefully considering these passages and highlighting specific ways Paul and others taught that we should pray for one another, consider whether or not our prayers for our fellow Christians “smell” the same as the prayers of Paul, or John, or the author of Hebrews. Brothers, are we praying for the saints as we ought?
If you are like me and your prayers for your brethren have alternated between absent and woefully inadequate, resolve to pray for one another as they did. Take these passages and learn /relearn what it means to go before the Father on behalf of your brethren. Remember: “Brothers, pray for us” is not a suggestion, nor is it an item to be checked off. How we pray for one another reflects our abundance (or our lack) of love and concern for our brethren.