I hope you pray regularly for your church. Actually, I hope you pray regularly for churches that aren’t your church, too. (On Sunday mornings, as I drive from my house to my church, I pray for the churches that I pass along the way. If I know the pastor of those churches, I pray for him by name.) But I hope that you make a regular habit of and even commitment to praying for your church. Because your church needs your prayers. The local church is God’s chosen agent to bring the message of the gospel to the world. If you aren’t praying for your church, that means that you are functioning like your church doesn’t need God’s power to deliver God’s message. As a messenger in a local church, I can tell you – we need God’s power. I need God’s power. So I need you to pray.
Here are seven specific ways you can pray for your local church:
1. Pray for the spiritual maturity of the members of your church. A lot of church members are really good about praying for other church members. But I’ve observed that most of the time, when church members are praying for other church members, they’re praying for things like the health concerns of certain members. That’s great – when I am sick, I’m glad for church members to pray for me. But the spiritual needs of church members are much deeper than medical concerns. Therefore pray that the brothers and sisters in Christ in your church would grow in godliness and holiness, in depth of maturity and repentance, in the fruit of the Spirit, in love for Christ and one another, etc.
2. Pray for the evangelistic zeal of your church. It is so easy for churches and church members to become inwardly focused, especially in seasons of transition or trial within a church. But healthy churches care deeply about the lost people of their community, and they are active in finding ways to engage them and serve them. Pray that the people of your church would grow in zeal and passion for evangelism, for loving their neighbors, and for seeing the glory of God fill your community as the waters cover the sea (see Habakkuk 2:14).
3. Pray for unity and wisdom among the leaders of your church. Pray for the elders or deacons of your church. Pray that God would give them a vision for the future and a dedication to the sheep of the flock God has put under their care. Pray that God would give them unity and peace as they pursue that vision. And pray that God would make them eager, willing shepherds, faithfully serving their flock so as to receive the crown of glory that will never perish or fade away (see 1 Peter 5:2-4).
4. Pray for the spiritual condition of your pastors. Most pastors I know are tired, busy, burning out or burned out, and overwhelmed by the spiritual needs of their flock and the challenges of ministering to their flock. Please, pray about those things. But before you pray about those things, pray that your pastor would find sweet fellowship with and grace from the Lord in their personal lives. Pray that your pastor would have a vibrant, dynamic spiritual life that is completely separate from his ministry. It might surprise you that pastors struggle for this, but they do. I do. So please pray.
5. Pray for the fruitfulness of your pastor’s ministry. Separate from a pastor’s personal spiritual life is his ministry faithfulness and effectiveness. Pray that your pastor would be completely committed to faithfulness in his ministry, and completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit for fruitfulness in his ministry. Pray for him throughout the week, and pray for him especially on Sundays (or Saturdays, if that’s how your church rolls). If you worship at Capitol City, I covet your prayers especially on Mondays and Wednesdays – these are the days I devote to study and sermon preparation. Pray that God would pierce me to the heart with his Word as I study. Pray that God would lead me to repentance and humility as I apply his Word to my own life. And pray that God would give me clear and helpful thoughts and words as I write.
6. Pray for your pastor’s family. If pastoring a church is hard, I am convinced that pastoring a pastor is harder – and that’s the job of a pastor’s wife. A pastor’s children are often subject to needless and unfair attention and criticism, and many struggle to have an identity in life other than “the pastor’s kid.” So please, pray for their hearts and spiritual condition. Pray also that your pastor would commit to loving and serving his family as his primary ministry, giving it priority over the needs of his church.
7. Pray for the unity of your church. I save this for last, but it is not last in importance. The fruitfulness of any church’s ministry is a reflection of that church’s unity. The degree to which a church is unified (or not) reveals the seriousness of that church’s commitment to the gospel. So pray that people would know the members of your church by their love for each other (John 13:35). Pray that people would see the power of the gospel at work in the unity of your church body. Pray that the enemy would find no chink in your church’s armor through dissension or disunity within your fellowship.
There are many other to pray for, but I think those seven are a critical foundation to prayer for your local church body.