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
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
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,
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.