Bible study for Nov. 11: Praying for Others

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Matthew 6:11 (CSB—Matt. 6:11b); John 1
Victor S. Lyons, pastor
Second Memorial Baptist Church, Perry

What should be our principal prayer for others?

Evangelism Professor Cecil Thompson, author of Concentric Circles, describes the rings of influence in a person’s life. According to him, others include immediate family, friends and extended family, coworkers and colleagues, mere acquaintances, and finally persons who are yet unknown. Thompson encouraged new Christian to write down the names of those within their circle of influence and begin praying for them, waiting for an opportunity to share the Gospel. Praying for others should begin with praying for their salvation.

Pray for the protection of others.
Matthew 6:11 (CSB—11b); John 17:11-16

We ask God to forgive us our sins, our moral debts. In like intensity, we should forgive others. The heart that cannot forgive, cannot truly understand forgiveness from God or others. Being forgiven and forgiving others are two sides of the same coin.

In John 17, the cross is imminent. He prays first for Himself, and then in the verses 11-16 He prays for His disciples. The hostility aimed at Him will also be aimed at them. He prays for their protection against the attacks of Satan which will include persecution and inner temptation.

He prays that they might experience joy even as they live in a hostile environment.

We should pray for the safety of others. We think of our soldiers in uniform and our police officers. But in today’s world, we also pray for protection against terrorist attacks perpetuated on easy targets often in public places..

Through organizations like the International Mission Board and Voice of the Martyrs, we are aware of missionaries and pastors who serve in very hostile environments around the world. We should pray for their safety as they share the Gospel.

Feeling safe is one of the greatest needs that we have. According to Maslow’s needs, safety is ranked second, only surpassed by concrete physical needs — food, shelter, drink, and sleep.

We pray for the safety of others, from our immediate family to the President of the United States.

Pray for the spiritual growth of others.
John 17:17-19

Jesus states that He has given his word to His disciples. In Matthew 28:20, He says that those baptized should be taught to observe everything I have commanded you. This word in the power of the Spirit will transform our lives, sanctifying us for the ministry that we carry out in Jesus’ name.

Pray for the unity of believers, a unity that points to Christ.
John 17:20-23

Unity of spirit is more important than institutional unity.

May they all be one!

How easy are the words as they fall from our lips! How very difficult is the reality!

Some churches claim that they are the exclusive and only original church that Jesus founded. One such church has its headquarters in Rome, another in Salt Lake City, and still another in New York City.

What is Jesus calling for here? One institutional church? Unity at all costs, regardless of doctrine or purpose?

Before the Reformation, the Western world experienced the monopoly of one church and yet the Gospel was not proclaimed and the people lived in moral darkness. Luther, Calvin, and others recovered the Gospel by placing the Bible in the hands of the people and teaching the truths of that Word in the languages of the people.

This unity is described as follows. First, it is a unity based on Jesus Himself and the message of salvation that He entrusted to His disciples. Second, it is a unity that mirrors the unity of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Of course, our unity will fall short of this goal. But it reminds us to work together valuing each other’s contribution and individuality as much as possible. Third, we are to be in union through our love for each other just as Christ’s love is, in some ways, reflective and consequential to God the Father’s love.

Live it Out

Praying for others should begin at home and then outward on our circle of influence.

Pray for others who are in harm’s way who serve the community and the cause of Christ.

We pray and work for the spiritual growth of others, especially in our immediate families and our beloved church families.

We can work to maintain a Christ-centered unity in our local church and pray for all true churches in their mission to share Christ.

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