Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Making Supplication for All the Saints


Toward the end of Ephesians, a book that lays out for us how God has designed the church to function, the apostle Paul exhorts us to “pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph 6:18 ESV).  
Praying for one another is intended to be a regular part of our lives as a church family.  This is why our church covenant includes the pledge to “remember one another in prayer.”  At the members meeting on Sunday evening, I suggested a way for us to fulfill this commitment to one another in a systematic way.  For the benefit of those who were not in attendance, I’d like to repeat that suggestion with a couple of additional comments.
At our members meetings, we received in the information packet a list of the current membership, along with contact information for each individual.  This is perhaps the most important part of the packet.  The list is more than a handy phone list.  It is a list of all the individuals with whom you have made a covenant.  These are the people whom you have promised to pray for, support, hold accountable, love, and watch over.  These are the people who made the same promise to you.  The list is a visual reminder of the great responsibility that we have to one another.
What better way to fulfill our commitment to pray for one another than to pray through this member list on a regular basis?  The elders have begun doing this individually and together in our elders’ meetings.  We have found that it is a great way to make sure we are keeping track of people and praying for them.
For some, this may sound like a daunting task.  It is hard enough to find time to pray as it is; adding dozens of names to our daily prayer list is not going to help!  But this is something that could be tailored to fit your schedule.  There may be a few people who have the ability to pray for everyone everyday, but for most of us, it will be more manageable to break the list up and pray for a certain number of brothers and sisters each day.  For example, you could pray for Dave Allen through Jean Buttrom on Mondays, Susan Carter through Beth Durso on Tuesdays, etc.  That way, you could pray for everyone once a week.
Such a schedule may still be too much for some of us to manage.  Why not break the list up even further so that you pray through the list over a two-week period or over one month?  We should never make such a plan a legalistic “must,” but structure can help us to make sure we are fulfilling the promises we have made to one another.
But what if we don’t know anything about some of the people on the list?  For some of our newer members this will undoubtedly be the case.  Certainly, for those people you do know well, you can pray regarding specific needs you are aware of.  But for those you don’t know, there are some great passages in the New Testament that you can pray on their behalf.  Most of Paul’s epistles contain prayers that he lifted up for the recipients. 
Eph 1:15-19 - 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…
Eph 3:14-19 - 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
There are numerous such prayers in the New Testament, including 1 Cor 1:4-9, Phil 1:9-11, and Col 1:9-12.
You could even use a passage that is not an explicit prayer.  For example, “Lord, please empower Ross Silburn to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which he has been called” (Eph 4:1).  The Scriptures are teeming with passages that we could use as prayers for one another.
Still, coming to a name you are not familiar with could also provide an opportunity to reach out to that brother or sister via phone or email and ask them if they have any prayer concerns. Or you could schedule coffee or a meal to get to know them.  You could even invite a number of people you do not know well to share a meal at your home.  Getting to know one another will go a long way toward strengthening our church and making our times of prayer and fellowship more meaningful and fruitful.
So, those of you who received the member list on Sunday evening, please don’t lose it.  Use it.  If you weren’t there, let us know and we’ll send it to you.  May the Lord lead us to take seriously our commitment to lift one another up in prayer.
 Posted by Greg Birdwell

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