I am not sure that we remember the purpose of prayer any more. We have become far too carnal in our thinking. Even when we pray for other people it is often carnal in nature, praying for creature comforts. There is nothing wrong in reminding God what needs people have; Jesus did tell us we could ask for anything. However, if we are who we are suppose to be in Jesus then we have that same heart and desire: To see the salvation of souls.
When Paul asked the Colossians to pray for him he did not give them a list of things he needed. He didn't mention any health issues, financial concerns or even any relationship problems. I believe Paul knew and trusted that our Father had all those things well in hand. But look at what he did ask them to pray for:
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (Colossians 4:3-4)
I don't think there is a minister out there who doesn't understand the importance of the Spirit's leadership in what they do. Any minister who has failed will tell you they started down that road when they left God out of things and started making decisions for themselves. It is a house of cards we are building when we base things on our thinking and opinions instead of on the direction of the Holy Spirit.
What amazes me is that this is the first time Paul has mentioned he is in jail. He didn't ask for his freedom or that he would be better treated. All he wanted was that God would open a door, provide an opportunity, so that he could proclaim the plan of God's salvation for man. And he asked for that divine anointing of the Spirit, allowing him to make the message clear.
How many pastors, evangelists, teachers, apostles and prophets today need those same prayers? What ministers are you praying for and what are your prayers? Are you praying protection for them as well as their financial needs to be met? Then stop it.
First of all, make a list of people you know who are involved in ministry. It's not just your pastor. It could be Mrs. Brown who visits the hospital twice a week. It could be Miss Smith who visits several nursing homes. It could be Joe who hands out sandwiches Downtown. It could be Betty who invites her neighbours over once a week to talk about Jesus. It doesn't matter who they are, if they are involved in ministry write them down on your list.
Now, covenant to pray for them daily, but pray for them as if you are partnered with them. Pray for the anointing of the Spirit on them so they would realize the power and authority of Jesus in their ministry. Pray that they will have the opportunity to present Jesus to those whom they minister. Pray that the Spirit will anoint them to present God's plan with clarity so that those who are listening will understand enough to receive the conviction of the Spirit of God. Do this for a month, every day and listen for the testimony of what God is doing in these ministries.
We have a duty to pray but understand the purpose of our prayers. We are releasing the power of God through the Holy Spirit, in the ministry and lives of people. It is not:
"God, bless Miss Smith as she visits people today. Bless her and make her a blessing."
"Lord, may your anointing flow through Miss Smith today, that as she speaks people will hear your voice. May the conviction of the Spirit fall upon those people. Open their eyes and ears that they will see and hear the truth and light even in the dark pit in which they live. Give Miss Smith the opportunity, open the door for her with each person she engages with. Give her the confidence that those are your words that fill her mouth and let the message be plain and simple that people will be able to understand and receive. Allow your power to flow in and through her today!"
Power will not flow without prayer. We need to be praying. We need to be backing up ministers. We need to be partnering with them and letting them know what we are praying for them. We who are in ministry must also change the focus of our prayers and prayer requests, that we will seek the things of the Kingdom and leave our carnal needs to the Father as Jesus said.
May we see the power of the Holy Spirit return to the entire Church today. Pray!