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Worship Message - For Whom We Should Pray

For Whom Should We Pray? 

This month of May began, on the 2nd, with the National Day of Prayer. On that day, the

theme was Pray for America. With the key verse being Matthew 12:21, the call was to

pray that we will, as a nation, put our hope in God.

Since May 2, we, here at Fellowship Church have, each Sunday, continued with the

theme of prayer. But not just prayers for our nation, but prayer in general. We have

done that by looking each week at a certain aspect of prayer.

To review, on May 5, the aspect was how often we should pray. The challenge was given

that we pray always, at all times, constantly.

On May 12, the aspect was how we should pray. The challenge was given that our

prayers be fervent, that we believe what we pray, and that our prayers include, not only

what we need, but also acknowledging who God is.

Last week, the aspect was for what we should pray. The challenge was given that we

pray that others will be saved, that we ourselves will have both our physical and our

spiritual needs met, that we pray that as a congregation we will unity, harmony, and

spiritual success.

For today, one more aspect of prayer. The aspect of for whom we should pray. Today,

the challenge will be given - and of course, there are many, many others for whom we

can and should pray - but the challenge in this message will be that we pray for all

people, that we are pray for our leaders, that we pray for those who are sick, that we

pray for missionaries, and that we pray for children.

I have some Bible passages to share for most of those categories, including one passage

for the first two categories. A passage that challenges us to pray for all people and for

our leaders. It is I Timothy 2:1-2, where, in verse 1, Paul wrote, “First of all, then, I urge

that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men.”

Supplications. That word means requests. Specific requests. We are, in our prayers, to

ask for specific things for others. Requests based on a sense of their needs. Physical

needs perhaps. Emotional needs certainly. But for our purposes here - for Paul’s main

purpose - spiritual needs. In fact, the most basic need of all, which is salvation from sin.

And then the need to grow in the Christian faith.

We are, according to Paul, to make supplications - we are to make specific requests - for

others. Paul also urged prayers. That word refers to making sure the requests are made

to God - for the strength that only God can give, for the forgiveness which He alone can

grant, for spiritual confidence that only He can supply.

Intercessions. That refers in this case to praying on behalf of others. Maybe not as

specific as is indicated with supplications, but generally. I think an appropriate phrase

might be “standing in the gap,” helping others - praying for others - to be in and stay in

contact with God.

But listen to this that I found, which indicates how personal our intercessions are to be.

The word translated “intercessions” has in its history the idea of having an intimate

conversation with someone. In this case, the idea is that we go into the personal

presence of God. That is how it is to feel to us. That we go into the personal presence of

God as we take our concerns for someone else to Him.

And you know what is just fantastic? That word would not have been used by Paul if he

had not been confident that God will allow us into His presence. Kings and presidents?

I kind of doubt I will ever be in the presence of any people like that. But God? I am

welcome into His presence any time of any day.

And see the word thanksgivings? Let’s never forget to speak a prayer of thanksgiving

whenever we see God answering our supplications. Our prayers. When we see that God

is answering our intercessory requests.

Paul wrote, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be

made for all men.”

Those last three words reflect the goal of all Paul’s ministry, which was to present the

Gospel of Jesus to as many people as possible, his intent being that he do all he could to

lead people to being saved from their sins.

But his call here is that we all keep the spiritual condition of others in our prayers. That

it was not Paul alone, but Christians everywhere, who are responsible for leading others

to the Lord.

But notice verse 2. Yes, we are to pray for all men - for all people. But then Paul singled

out one group of all people. We are to make supplications, prayers, and intercessions

“for kings and all who are in high positions.”

Of course, that includes, in our system of government, the president and our governor

and our mayor. It includes the United States Congress and the Nebraska Unicameral

and the Lincoln City Council. And notice there is nothing in verse 2 about praying just

for the leaders with whom you agree or who you like or who you voted for. Just them.

No. The call is to pray for all leaders.

And remember this if you or I think that is a difficult thing to do. When Paul wrote

these words, there was a lot of persecution being faced by Christians in many, many

places. Some of it was perpetrated by leaders. Paul’s challenge was that even bad

leaders be prayed for.

And according to what I read in studying this passage, it is not just political leaders who

are referred to. Those in high positions also refer to those with economic leadership.

And to those in various parts of life who have other kinds of authority. I am thinking of

teachers in education, law enforcement officers in safety issues doctors and nurses in

health matters, coaches in sports.

For whom should we pray? We are to pray for all men - all people - including kings and

all who are in high positions. But there is more to verse 2. There is a reason given for

why we should pray for those in authority. It is that we may lead “a peaceful and quiet

life, godly and dignified in every way.”

Now, to accomplish that, we need to pray that our leaders will seek God’s will and follow

it when they know it. Concerning all men, we need to pray that those of us who are led

by our leaders will follow our leaders when they do govern according to God’s will. But

what a wonderful thing can happen when both those things happen. We may lead a

peaceful and quiet life.

Of course, we know, do we not, that the world is not a very peaceful place. In fact, we as

Americans are facing a whole culture - I am thinking of the Islamic culture - that is

dedicated to wiping out any references to God. Unless they are converted, we will face at

least that kind of danger and turmoil.

But as we pray for our leaders, we can ask that they will honor God in their decisions so

we can be strong, even as a nation. With that, even in the difficult times, we will be able

to survive as a nation.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be

made for all men - for kings and all who are in high positions.” All people and our

leaders. Those are two groups of people for whom we are to pray.

We are also to pray for those who are sick, which takes us to James 5:13-14, where

James admits that sometimes people suffer. But, he adds, there is something we who

are Christians are to do when there is suffering.

The passage begins with what we as individuals are to do. “Is anyone among you

suffering in any way? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful about anything? Let him sing

praise.” Whatever we are going through personally, we are to pray to God in times of

trouble and praise God in times of cheer.

But then this. “Is any among you sick? If so, let him call for the elders of the church,

and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

Of course, the oil is important. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Feeling the oil on the

skin is meant to remind the one being prayed for of the presence of the Holy Spirit in his

or her life.

But the call, in addition to anointing with oil, is to pray for those who are sick, which

means those who are sick are another category of people for whom we should pray.

And remember a word in the earlier passage. The word “thanksgiving.” When our

prayers for the sick are answered, we are to give thanks.

For whom should we pray? All people, leaders, those who are sick, and, for the fourth of

today’s five categories, missionaries.

We at Fellowship Church, as a congregation, help support some foreign missionaries.

One is Tammie Tregellas, who has a ministry of training pastors in the African nation of

Malawi. Another is Charlotte McPherson, who runs a book store in a Middle Eastern

nation, using that as a platform to share Jesus in a country that is predominantly

Islamic. Two others are Gary and Gwen Bistritan, who spent a number of years

ministering on the Pacific island of Guam. Gary and Gwen have now moved their

missionary work to the island of Yap, which is kind of a suburb of Guam. They, too, are

training people native to the island to minister.

We also help support the ministry of the People’s City Mission here in Lincoln. I think

we could consider the head of the Mission - Tom Barber - to be a missionary as he works

with so many different kinds of people and nationalities of people who are struggling

right here in Lincoln.

Part of the help we give to missionaries is financial, but we can also support them - we

need to support them - with prayer.

A Bible verse that comes to mind for that is in Acts 4. It is verse 29.

Right before this, Peter and John, who were missionaries for Jesus at that time in their

city of Jerusalem, had been arrested for preaching about Jesus. They were held in jail


The next day they were warned by the Jewish leaders who had arrested them to never

speak about Jesus again. The warning came before they were released. But Peter and

John, before they were released, answered the warning by saying that despite what they

had been told, they were going to continue to preach. They proclaimed they could do

nothing but tell what they had seen Jesus do and what they had heard Him teach.

But then - this is verse 29 - when Peter and John were released, they returned to their

friends. The friends prayed, saying, “Lord, look upon the threats Peter and John are

facing, and grant to them, Your servants, to speak Your word with all boldness.”

We are also to pray for missionaries. We are to ask God to protect today’s missionaries

from the threats they receive. We are to ask God to continue to give them boldness as

they speak His word today.

So yes, we can add missionaries to all people, to our leaders, and to those who are sick as

those for whom we can pray. And we can pray for children. Not only our own children

here, that they, too, will accept Jesus as their Savior and grow in their faith. That as they

become leaders, they will seek and do God’s will. That if they are sick, we will pray for

them to be well. We can pray, not only for our own children, but also for the ones we as

a congregation help support through the Children of Promise program. And I especially

want to mention them because we have a new child in the group of those we support.

Over the past several years, we have supported Spora Irando, Rimoinet Morondi,

Daniela Amante, and Pongsakorn Putumart. Spora and Rimoinet live in Tanzania.

Daniela lives in the Philippines. Pongsakorn is in Thailand.

Rimoinet has now left the Children of Promise program, I think because of age. He has

been replaced by Manase Martin Ami, a seven-year-old boy who also lives in Tanzania.

To get somewhat acquainted with Manase, he has four brothers and three sisters who,

with their parents, live in a three-room house. The walls are made of trees, the roof

consists of grass, the floors are dirt. The house has running water, but no electricity.

Manase’s chore at home is tending the family’s cows. His favorite activity is drawing.

As it is with the missionaries listed a moment ago, we help Manase and the other

children we support financially. Our help assists with their food, clothing, and

educational needs. Since the assistance is given in the name of Jesus, there is a very

definite spiritual part to it as well.

But let’s remember to help our Children of Promise children by praying for them, too.

That they will continue to be eager to learn about Jesus and accept Him and live

according to His teachings. That if they are sick, they will feel the Lord’s healing touch.

That as they grow into adults and leaders, they, too, will seek and do God’s will, doing so

boldly, despite whatever threats they may face.

For whom should we pray? All people, leaders, those who are sick, missionaries, and


And to hopefully help us to remember that our prayers are important, I have a story to

share. It centers on a missionary, which is just one of the categories of those for whom

we can and should pray. But listen to how a prayer was answered. That is the reason for

sharing the story.

A man whose home church was in Michigan went on a missions assignment to Africa,

where he worked at a small field hospital. Every two weeks he traveled through a jungle

to a nearby city for supplies. The distance required camping overnight halfway to and

halfway back from the city.

On one of the trips, the man saw two men fighting in the city. One of them was seriously

hurt, so the missionary treated him and witnessed to him about Jesus. He then headed

back toward the field hospital, eventually arriving there without incident.

However, upon arriving in the city the next time, as part of another trip for supplies, the

missionary was approached by the man he had treated the trip before.

That man told the missionary it had been known two weeks earlier that he carried

money and medicine. The man continued that he and some friends had followed the

missionary into the jungle, knowing he would camp overnight, and that they had waited

for the missionary to go to sleep, the plan being to kill him and take his money and


But, the man ended, just as they had begun to move into the camp site, they had seen

that the missionary was surrounded by 26 armed guards.

The missionary laughed and said, “I was all alone out in the jungle camp site that night.”

“No,” the other man argued. “I was not the only one who saw the guards. My five

friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those 26 guards that

we were afraid and left you alone!”

A few months later, when the missionary was back at his home church in Michigan -

when he told that story - one of the men in the church stood up and interrupted the

missionary by asking, “Can you tell me the exact date when this happened?”

The missionary thought for a while and recalled the date. The man in the congregation

then gave his side of the story.

He said, “That night in Africa, it was day here. I was preparing go play golf. As I put my

bags in my car, I felt the Lord leading me to pray for you. In fact, the urging was so

great that I called some of the other men of this church. I called them and asked them to

join me so that together we could pray for you. Will all of those men who met to pray

please stand?”

The men who had met that day to pray together stood. Guess what. Altogether, there

were 26 of them - the exact number of armed guards seen by those who had wished to

do the missionary ill that night in Africa.

For whom should we pray? All people, our leaders, those who are sick, missionaries,

and children.

As was discussed last week, it is OK to also pray for ourselves and for our congregation -

that we will have both our physical and our spiritual needs met and that we as a

congregation we will unity, harmony, and spiritual success.

But as we discussed earlier this month, as we pray, we need to be fervent. We need to

believe what we pray. And let’s make sure that when we pray, we also acknowledge who

God is and that we thank Him every time He answers us.

And yes, let’s pray always, at all times, constantly.

Today’s closing song is the hymn Faith For Thy Service. Even though prayer is not

mentioned, prayer is needed to have the things that are mentioned, those things being

faith, hope, and love. May we sing the song as a prayer that not only we ourselves, but

also all others, including our leaders, those who are sick, those who are missionaries,

and the children we know - that all will have faith and hope and love, all those things

wonderful blessings from the Lord.

Since this will be our prayer, not only for ourselves, but for others, I have changed the I’s

and the me’s to us and we and our.

Faith for Thy service, our Father, we ask -

Faith for the facing and faith for the task,

Faith for the moment and faith for the day,

Faith that our God will throw open the way.

Hope for new courage and hope for new sight,

Hope in our Heavenly Father’s great might,

Hope that You’ll help us Your message to bear,

Hope that Your truth with the lost we may share.

Love for our neighbors and love for our God,

Love that will cause us to carry Your word -

Carry it onward and outward to win

All who should know of salvation from sin.

Lord, You very plainly teach us in the Bible how often to pray, how to pray, for what to

pray, and for whom to pray - all of which reminds us how important it is to pray.

Please keep reminding us. Please keep us obeying You. As that happens, we will be

blessed, others will be affected, and You will be pleased and honored. Thank You.


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