Each week, we turn our focus to praying for a specific person or group of people.
If you missed the original post on effective prayer, read it here.
Effective prayer is a learned habit requiring discipline and diligence. To that end, I am encouraging you to write down the people you are praying for. Part of building and maintaining habits is to have reminders and tracking tools. Making a list isn’t self-righteous or sacreligious. It is a tool. We devote time to counting calories, monitoring money, checking Facebook, making to-do lists–is prayer of lesser importance?
Before I get in to our prayer focus for the week, I want to share with you a new idea that came to me via Facebook. I had asked my readers to share the methods they used to remind themselves who or what to pray for. This was the suggestion I got and I thought it was awesome:
“I use index cards in a box and move prayer cards to answered when appropriate. It is a great visual for what God is doing, since we often forget to take note of what He has already answered.”
Thank you, Sheena for the helpful input!
For other posts regarding prayer, click on “prayer” in the categories tab.
Focus for this week:
If you are blessed to worship with a group that has elders–strong, godly men who watch over the church–you possess a great treasure. The men in charge of watching over the church have a difficult job. They–like preachers or teachers–are subject to heaps of criticism. They have to untangle messy situations, address the concerns of church members, and make sure that what is being taught in the church is indeed truth. I’ve seen many a good man age drastically after becoming an elder. It’s stressful!
These men of integrity, charged with managing the local congregation, need our prayers and encouragement.
So, before you pray, write down their names. Lift them up, by name, to God. If you don’t know who they are, find out, and make an effort to talk to them if you have the opportunity. Thank them for all they do that goes unseen.
If you’re not sure what specifically to pray for, here are some suggestions:
Pray for them to stand firm in the Word.
He [an Elder] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Titus 1:9 ESV
If an elder isn’t grounded in the Word of God, they will not only be unstable themselves, but they risk leading those in their congregation astray.
Pray for them to be diligent in watching over your local church.
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Acts 20:28 ESV
There are sheep, wolves, shepherds and sheepdogs. And elder is like a sheep dog. They have to be on constant alert for danger and they occasionally have to nudge the sheep back in line. It takes diligence, patience and perseverance.
Pray that they will not succumb to pride or false teaching.
I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
When Paul left the church at Ephesus for the last time, he gave the elders encouragement and caution (read Acts 20 for full context): some of them would rise up and twist the truth and draw others away from the church. We need to pray that our elders stay firmly rooted in truth and do not allow themselves or others to slice and dice the church to tiny pieces with unsound, divisive doctrine.
What if you don’t have elders/overseers?
Well, I suggest that you pray for the person(s) in charge of running things for your church. It could be a group of men, or if you are very small, maybe one or two men. Know who is in charge so that when an issue arises you know who to approach. Most importantly, know who is in charge so you can pray for them. If it is a large group of men making decisions for the congregation, pray for them as a group.
Let us pray together to great effect this week.
Remember: Keep asking. Keep watching. Keep trusting.