The answer is a resounding, Yes. Most of our readers understand the importance of prayer for the Work of God and His ministers, deacons, members and coworkers who are actively involved in the Work of God. However, in this Q&A, we want to show the strong emphasis, which the Bible places on the duty and responsibility of non-ordained and ordained Church members to pray for God’s Work and the human instruments whom God chooses to carry out His Work.
First of all, we must understand that it is God who appoints His ministers and deacons and who places His disciples in the body of Christ where He pleases (1 Corinthians 12:18). Members cannot just decide to “join” the Church of God. Rather, it is the Father who must draw them to Christ and His body (John 6:44,65). Likewise, ministers and deacons are not appointed by men.
It is true that God inspires and uses ordained ministers to ordain converted faithful and proven members to the position of minister and deacon, with accompanying prayer and the laying on of hands (Acts 14:23; 13:1-3; Titus 1:5). But it is God who sets aside certain qualified men and women to the office of deacon and deaconess, and He sets aside qualified men to the office of minister and to a particular rank within the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-14; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Galatians 1:1; Colossians 1:25; 4:17; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11; Hebrews 5:4; Romans 12:7; 1Timothy 1:12). In doing so, He entrusts His ministers with great responsibility for which they will have to give account (Hebrews 13:17).
We should be familiar with Christ’s command to pray to the Father to send forth laborers into God’s harvest, since the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Matthew 9:37-38). We should also know that the Word of God must be proclaimed and that it must be believed, but that it cannot be believed unless God sends His ministers to proclaim it (Romans 10:14-17). We are told that the gospel of the Kingdom of God will be preached in all the world as a witness, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14; 28:19), but it could be some of us, individually, to either hinder or delay (2 Peter 3:9), as well as hasten (2 Peter 3:12) the day of Christ’s return.
Paul asked the brethren many times to pray for him and the other ministers and helpers. In quite general and all-encompassing terms, he requests of the brethren to pray for him and the other ministers (1 Thessalonians 5:25). A similar request can be found in Hebrews 13:18.
In using a more specific example, Paul asks Philemon to pray that he would be able to visit him, as this visit was important in Paul’s eyes (Philemon 22).
In the overwhelming majority of cases, when Paul asks for prayers for him and the ministry, it is for the purpose of the furtherance of the gospel.
In Ephesians 6:18-19, Paul is telling the brethren that they ought to pray for one another, and for all the saints, and also for him that he would obtain the wisdom and strength to preach the Word boldly and to make known the mystery of the gospel. He reiterates this request in Colossians 4:2-3, admonishing the brethren to continue in prayer for him and the other ministers and coworkers, so that God would open unto them a door of utterance or proclaiming the mystery of Christ.
Again, in 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, Paul asks the brethren to pray for him and his companions so that the Word of God may have free course and be glorified, and that they will be protected and delivered from unreasonable and wicked men who would love to prevent them from preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Finally, in Romans 15:30-31, Paul appeals with great emotion to the brethren at Rome, when he pleads with them and beseeches them, for the Lord Jesus’ sake, to strive with him together in their prayers to God, so that he would be delivered from those who do not believe, and also, that his service to the brethren would be accepted.
Did Paul really believe that the prayers of the brethren for him would make a difference in his life, and that they would help in the accomplishment of the Work of God? He obviously did—otherwise, he would not have pleaded with the brethren to pray for him.
In Acts 12, we find a striking example of successful prayer from brethren for one of God’s ministers. We read that Peter was thrown into prison, and that the brethren in Jerusalem prayed in Mark’s house. They obviously asked God to protect and release Peter. In fact, an angel set Peter free. The irony is that when Peter went to the brethren and stood outside the house, requesting entrance, they at first refused to believe that it was really he, insisting that he was still in prison and that it therefore had to be his angel.
And so, as the following is true for every successful prayer, so it is also true for prayers on behalf of the Work of God and His ministers: We must believe that we will receive what we are asking. And we must not forget to pray to God even in matters which may seem small or unimportant, as well as for those matters which appear to be too big or difficult to be received.
We read in Philippians 4:6-7 that we should make our requests known to God in regard to everything (compare 1 John 3:22; 5:14-15). We are to pray repeatedly, without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and we must pray boldly and with confidence and conviction, and without doubt (Hebrews 4:16). We are to cast all our care on Him (1 Peter 5:7)—including His care for His Church and the financial means and opportunities for the ministry to preach the gospel and feed the flock.
Sometimes, Satan may hinder us to accomplish a certain task (1 Thessalonians 2:18)—but even then, we must remember that Satan and his human instruments (1 Corinthians 16:9) can only do what God allows them to do, and that God will crush Satan under our feet shortly (Romans 16:20; 1 John 3:8). We are assured that God’s Holy Spirit which is in us is greater and much more powerful than Satan’s spirit (1 John 4:4), which permeates and deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9).
God wants us to pray for His Work and His human instruments who are actively involved in carrying out His Work. The sincerity and consistency of our prayers for the Work of God show Him how much our heart is in the things which are important to God. We should never assume that any prayer is too insignificant for God. At the same time, we should think big and ask God to open mighty doors for us, enabling us to proclaim the gospel with much more strength and effect. Some of those doors which we might envision in our minds might at this point appear to be beyond our human grasp or reasonable expectation, but we must know that God has promised us powerful accomplishments (John 14:12), since with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link