Three Ways the Church Must Pray (and One Reason Why)

Did you hear the one about the five year-old boy who wanted a new baby brother? His father, knowing his wife was in the early stages of pregnancy, told his son to pray every day for 6 months and then he would have a baby brother (and maybe a sister). The young boy prayed daily for two months, but soon quit, unconvinced that his prayers had any tangible effect toward his goal. Six months later, the mother gave birth to twins.

The boy's dad said to him, "Now aren't you glad you prayed?"

The boy hesitated a little and then looked up at his dad and said, "Yes, but aren't you glad I quit praying when I did?"

Prayer is complicated. It's the intersection of sovereignty and responsibility ... of the infinite and the finite. It's a mystery we are mandated to enter individually and corporately, and in 1 Timothy 2:1-7, we see three ways the church must pray, and one reason why.

Pray holistically. We're way into holistic treatment for all kinds of ailments in our family. Diet, supplements, essential oils, exercise, chiropractic care, rest—we try it all in an attempt to recover from what has us reeling. Paul applies that same logic when it comes to prayer. There is little variation in the words used in verse 1, but each has its own relationship to prayer. We are to make requests for specific needs, bring those in view before God, appeal boldly, and do it all in a posture of gratitude. This is what it means to pray holistically.

Pray globally. Paul admonishes the church to pray for everyone. The scope of the church's prayers must be broader than the church. John Stott is right to ponder, "I sometimes wonder whether the comparatively slow progress towards peace and justice in the world, and towards world evangelization, is due more than anything else to the prayerlessness of the people of God. What might not happen if God’s people throughout the world learned to wait upon him in believing, persevering prayer?"

Pray politically. I do not mean to pray according to your political preferences, but to pray for your political leaders. Paul admonishes us to pray "for kings and all those who are in authority," and to do so for a very specific reason: the role they play in providing a peaceful society in which we can live godly lives and spread the gospel (v. 2-3). So, pray politically.

And why are we to pray holistically for all people and their leaders? Because God is the God of all and wants the glory of all. Praying this way "... pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, Himself human, who gave Himself—a ransom for all ...." God is for all people. He wants the glory of all people. So we must pray in a holistic way for all people so that He can get the glory of all people.

These three things are not the totality of what prayer must look like in the church, but they are crucial part, especially if Paul launched into these things first and "urged" they be done. How holistic, global and "political" are your prayers? Broaden your scope so that God gets His glory.