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For Whom Should We Pray?

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November 9th, 2012 | Filed Under: Author, Mitch Kuhn, Prayer, Q and A0 Comments | Author:


R_____,

Here are a few thoughts the Lord has given me on this topic.

When I read through the passages you sent in Jeremiah, it struck me that God is telling Jeremiah not to pray for these people to be blessed in the midst of their rebellion. Here is what the false prophets are doing.

Jer 14:13 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.
Jer 14:14 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.

There is no peace in rebellion. We MUST all reap what we sow. If we pray that the Lord spare rebellious people the consequences of their actions, or to remove the very trials that are going to give them eyes to see, then we are false prophets.

This is how we are to pray:

3Jn 1:2 KJV Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

As God’s prophets, we must know that the healing we desire for the world is first spiritual, and then physical as the Lord wills. We do not pray that the things of the world prosper.

1Jn 2:16 KJV For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

The milk doctrine of “Laying on of Hands” is about this very topic. http://aionios.com/2012-05/5th-milk-doctrine-laying-on-of-hands/
The most natural desire is for us to want our loved ones, or anyone in the world for that matter, to be kept from suffering. At first we are only concerned about their physical well being, and do not consider the health of their spirit. If we are going to pray for your friend who has the many health issues for example, we pray that his physical health is healed as his sprit is healed. We need to recognize that this suffering is good because of the spiritual fruit it can produce when the Lord wills.
I’ve been thinking about this verse recently.

Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

The world seeks first physical blessings, food, clothing, health, etc. We are told to seek first the kingdom. This means that our prayers should be focused on ourselves and others being spiritually healed. When we have and teach this perspective, the physical will be taken care of in due time.
For example, I asked for payer for a co-worker’s wife P__ recently to be healed from breast cancer and complications. I was also asking that this would provide an opportunity to share the truth with P__ or her husband J__. I didn’t pray that the Lord would heal them so they can continue in their rebellious living in Babylonia doctrine, sacrificing to other gods. I pray for their eyes to be opened.
The Lord will answer us according to the idols of our heart.

Eze 14:4 Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;

If all we want is for others to be physically healed, then that will happen and we will have no opportunities to share the truth. Conversely, when we seek first the kingdom, we will see spiritual fruit and in due time some physical healing as well. This has been the case in my own life. I pray that my spirit prospers first and foremost, but some physical healing is certainly nice as well.

R____,

Let me clarify and try to show the narrow way of this topic in scripture.

Who are we supposed to pray for?

1Ti 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

Who are we supposed to do good?

Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,

Who is God going to save?

1Ti 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men,

This is one side of the road, God is going to save all men, so we are to pray for, and do good to all men. The other side of the road is that we are to focus on those God is saving NOW, the body of Christ.
Who do we focus our good works?

Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Who is God saving now through judgment?

1Pe 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…

Who do we pour our precious ointment?

Mat 26:7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his (Christ’s) head, as he sat at meat.

So how do we know who to pray for that is not a part of the Body of Christ?

Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men…

God will provide opportunities just like the Samaritan in this parable….

Luk 10:30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Luk 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
Luk 10:34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

We are on a journey down the narrow way, headed towards the kingdom of God, focused on our brothers and sisters in the Lord who do the will of God. If the Lord places someone in our path, then we must have compassion on them and care for them, both physically and spiritually, whether they have spiritual eyes or not. We even have to do good to our enemies as opportunities arise. We are not out looking for the poor to help, because there are countless poor in the world. We are looking for lost sheep in which to care. We just obey God’s commands to do good when he puts the poor of this world in our path.
The sum of the word is truth, so we have to see the narrow way between the verses.

Joh 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

1Ti 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

How do we do this?
1. Focus on the body of Christ
2. Do good to all as you have opportunity, including praying for others
3. Pray that the spirit would prosper, not the things of the world

R__, if people that you know are suffering, then it is good to pray for them that the Lord would use these trials to open their eyes, and in his time heal them physically. If you see someone suffering on TV or the news, it’s perfectly fine to say a prayer for them that the Lord would save them now in this life. We just don’t go out of our way to find the poor of this world, because we have Christ with us now and need to focus on his body.

You have mentioned before that you have given money to a man who begs on the street near you. That is good, but you are not volunteering at the local homeless shelter. You’re obeying these verses and doing good as you have opportunity.

Luk 6:30 Give to every man that asketh of thee…
Luk 6:31 NKJV And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

J__ did ask me to pray for P__, so I did. Even if he did not ask I would have prayed, because the Lord brought the opportunity to do good to him and his wife. Their trial has passed and they did not become one of us, so I’m not continuing to pray for them. I’m focused on the body until the next opportunity comes along to do good to all men.

I hope this answers who we should pray for.
Mitch

Hi R____
This is a good discussion. Thank you for bringing up the topic. I think we are all benefiting as we work through the scriptures together. I’ll respond below.

It does specifically say that “prayers… be made for all men”. The explanation of “that we may live a quite and peaceable life”… is a reason why we pray for all men and our leaders. I think the next verse is a further explanation of why we pray for all men.

1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
1Ti 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Those that really get to know us will hate us for following Christ.

Mat 10:22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

Joh 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
Joh 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

We pray for the world to be saved, because we will never have complete peace with the world until everyone is saved. Again, we make these prayers as we have opportunity and don’t spend all of our energy on the world that the Lord is not saving yet.

Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. He asked the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him, before any of them asked for forgiveness. When we are dead in our sins, we don’t want anything to do with the true Christ, and most certainly don’t ask for his help or prayers.

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Luk 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

Christ also tells us to pray for our enemies, who are most certainly not asking for our prayers.

Mat 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

This is how Christ loves us when we were his enemies. We are the men crucifying him, and Christ has prayed that we be forgiven. He loves us first before we even think to ask him for anything.

1Jn 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Jesus specifically prays for the elect in John 17, but then in Luke 23 he is praying for the world that is killing him. John 17 is not saying, “don’t ever pray for the world”, it is an example of Jesus pouring the precious ointment on the body by focusing on the elect.

Joh 17:9 I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.
Joh 17:10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.
Joh 17:11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.

There are two meanings of the word “world”, in one sense it means all that is in the world:

1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.

We certainly do not pray for this evil to prosper. On the other hand the ‘world’ is those that are killing Christ and are not yet converted. We do pray that all men be forgiven for they know not what they do, just like Jesus did in Luke 23. Notice that the world gets a one sentence prayer in Luke 23, while the elect get nearly the whole chapter of John 17.
I think what you are calling personal prayers are when Jesus was detailed in John 17, while his prayer for the world is very generic “forgive them’, which is like your groaning.
Here is an example of Christ groaning for the world.
Mat 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Here is a very personal prayer for Peter.

Luk 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
Luk 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Here is an example of praying for people that he has shared the Gospel with, the Ephesians’ Church.

Eph 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Eph 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

So now through experience, God will teach us to discern when is the right time to pray and for whom. We only have so much time and energy in these bodies of clay. If we spend too much time praying for the world, then we will neglect the Body of Christ. I could pray every day for all of my lost family, but God is not working with them, so it is not good at this time to pray for them. If I saw things happening that may indicate the Lord is dragging one of them, then I’d certainly begin to pray more and let you all know.
Asking for prayers can be a sign of God working with someone, or it can just be them asking for loaves and fish (physical blessings). We’re looking for those that know they really need help.

Mar 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

I hope this helps,
Mitch
For more on prayer, see the following articles:
http://www.iswasandwillbe.com/Pray_not.php
http://aionios.com/2011-12/prayer/

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