So what have you been praying about lately? The usual petitions and praises—asking God to work in our circumstances or thanking Him for what He has done? Maybe some confession as well—laying our sins before God and asking His forgiveness.
The prayers in the Bible reflect a wide diversity of topics. People came before the Lord for many different reasons—not just the upcoming interview or Aunt Sally’s hip replacement. Here are a few things we don’t often think to pray about, but maybe we should!
1. Safety from temptation
We know that we ought to confess our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness, but how often do we think to ask God to keep us safe from temptation and sin in the first place?
In the most familiar prayer of the Bible, Jesus instructs us to pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). This is a prayer repeated throughout the Bible in different ways (Psalm 19:13, Luke 22:40), and probably one we should incorporate into our own prayers.
2. Loving and understanding the Word
Instead of simply checking off Bible-reading as just another chore, let us pray that God will fill us with love for His Word, and that He will give us wisdom abundantly to understand what He has revealed to us (James 1:5).
3. The spiritual needs of fellow Christians
Some of the most common prayer requests we hear are for health needs—someone has a cold; someone broke an arm. . . But how often do we pray for the spiritual needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Paul ends his first letter to the Thessalonians with this prayer, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
Let us pray for God to continue working in the lives of fellow Christians, drawing them closer to Him day by day.
4. Unity among believers
Most of us know people at church we don’t always get along with—whether because of personality, experience, or theological disagreements. Yet Jesus’ final prayer before His death and resurrection, was for unity in the church:
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20-21).
Unity in the church, that reflects the unity of God the Father and God the Son? We don’t see that very often! But we can start praying for it!
5. God working through world leaders
Some of us live in places with many freedoms, while others face more restrictions in living a Christian life and sharing the gospel. Perhaps for this reason, Paul urges Timothy, “first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Let us pray for our national and regional leaders, that God would work through them to bring peace and allow the gospel to prosper.
6. Christians who face persecution
Let us also pray for our brothers and sisters who suffer persecution. Across the globe, brothers and sisters face surveillance, house arrest, prison terms, or even death because of their obedience to the Lord.
As the author of Hebrew reminds us, let us “Continue to remember those in prison as if [we] were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if [we ourselves] were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3). May God shorten the time of suffering and bring peace in the midst of trials.
7. Christ’s return to this world
Do you know what’s in the final prayer in the Bible?
“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
While we don’t like to think much about the end of the world, we do look forward to the end of evil and suffering in this world. We so yearn to be able to live fully and sinlessly with our God in the new heaven and new earth. So let us pray for Christ’s kingdom to come, once and for all (Matthew 6:10), and let us encourage one another with these words in the meantime (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
May God work through these prayers as we incorporate them into our daily disciplines.