“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.” 1 Timothy 2:1
PRAYER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT component of a believer’s spiritual life, and it has to be practiced continually for us to attain spiritual growth. Prayer is also the incisive weapon of defence against Satan’s schemes. Jesus told His disciples that some evil spirits could only be driven out by prayer (Mark 9:29). Paul urged the churches repeatedly to pray, especially for opportunities to spread the gospel.
Paul prayed continually for the dispersed believers, and even when he was in jail the prison walls could not muzzle Paul’s prayers for them. In his letter to the church in 1 Timothy 2, Paul urged first of all that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority. This was an astonishing request as the reigning emperor at that time was the tyrant Nero and those in authority were imposing emperor-worship and heathen religious practices on the people. But it is expressly for the reason that decisions and actions of rulers have a far-reaching impact on those they govern, that prayers for leaders are necessary.
We live in a globalised world and the international community has become closely-knit, but the church has to continue praying for the world’s nations. We are invariably affected by political, social or economic turbulence in surrounding nations and those in the region. Hence, we pray for nations near and far so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity (1 Timothy 2:2).
Quoting from Isaiah, Jesus Christ declared that the Lord’s temple would be a house of prayer. So is the church.
Let us remember to pray for the nations whenever we gather to pray.
The Methodist Church has a worthy tradition of holding its prayer meetings on weekdays to pray for believers and nations. It is lamentable that many of these are poorly-attended and some churches have even made changes to hold prayer meetings either before or after the Sunday worship service. Believers’ prayers are the gauge of a vibrant church, and I believe a church’s revival hinges on vitalising its zeal for prayer.
The Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung is the President of the Chinese Annual Conference.