Reflections on Morning Prayer – Week 23

Reflections on Morning Prayer – Week 23

Having addressed the reasons for committing ourselves to intercessory prayer last week, we now consider what issues we should address in our prayers. We have already given to God our praise and thanksgiving – so this is the time to pray for other people and for our personal circumstances. There will always be the temptation to pray spontaneously for our own needs and neglect the bigger challenges facing the world and other people. In this reflection, we will use Scripture as a basis for our thoughts, and begin by reminding ourselves of Paul’s instruction to Timothy:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1 Tim. 1. 1-4

So, it’s good to start with the big picture – with the specific intention of seeking that everyone will come to know the truth of God’s love. When we have prayed for our political and national leaders, we can focus on our national life. For David, this was centred on Jerusalem, when he wrote:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”

Psalm 122. 6,7

We too can pray for Israel – for God’s continued blessing upon that nation in crisis, together with current world issues, the needs often seem to be beyond our power of comprehension and imagination. Never before has there been such awareness of warfare, atrocities, persecution, inequalities, famine, pandemics, natural disasters, pollution – but we can bring all our heartache to God. Our prayers can include additional topics, including the stewardship of our environment – the challenge of climate change was not predicted 2,000 years ago! As we think of our own nation, we will immediately be aware of the issues facing us, and the failure of our political system and society to follow God’s standards:

Do not be angry beyond measure, LORD; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people.

Isaiah 64. 9

We can then turn towards the ministry of the church and for those who are in leadership. We remember the Bishop and those in authority in our own diocese and Ministry Area, but also the churches of other denominations who share our faith. We pray that each will be given a passion to preach the good news of Jesus Christ:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

Eph. 6. 18,19

We now move into praying for each other. Paul, in his letters, has concern for all those to whom he writes, and expresses this in prayer. For example, he writes this message to the Colossians :

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.

Col. 1. 9-11

We can pray for a wide range of needs – we will remember those who are sick, bereaved or going through difficult times. This may include specific prayers for healing:

Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the LORD your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.

1 Kings 13.6

For those people we find difficult or who put us down:

I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matt. 5. 44

For children and young people:

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matt. 19. 13,14

For faith and unity so that our message to other people may be effective:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

John 17. 20,21

We will probably spend the majority of our time praying for the needs of those we love – our family and friends. Sometimes, we don’t know how to pray, but Paul encourages us to allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our prayer life, when prayer becomes difficult:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Rom 8. 26-28

As we come to pray for ourselves, we remember our own humanity. We will be blessed only as we become a blessing for others. Sometimes this will involve the heartache of confessing things to each other that are difficult to express – making sure that circumstances of the past do not become a barrier to effective prayer today:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Jas. 5. 16-18

I believe that our intercessory prayers will not only be effective for supporting the lives of others, but will also change us from the inside-out as we focus on the needs of those around us.