What do you pray for? You might regularly pray for your wants and needs, pray to praise and thank God for his blessings, or pray for your family and friends. How often do you pray for those that you don’t know personally or for your community? The Lord’s Prayer, which is Jesus’ teaching on how we ought to pray, begins with “… your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus expresses in this opening a statement a desire for God’s kingdom to be articulated in the world around us. We can use this prompting to think about bringing the needs of our city and community to God.
But what should we pray for our city and community? In 1 Timothy 2:1-3 (NIV), the Apostle Paul tells Jesus’ Jewish followers to pray “for kings and all those in authority” so that they “may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” At this time, these followers of Christ were experiencing oppression from Roman leaders. So, Paul saying that they should pray for these leaders was nothing short of radical.
Paul goes on to say in verses 3-5 that these prayers please God, “who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” about Christ. These messages about seeing God’s kingdom on earth and praying for leaders, despite any personal misgivings we may have about them, can lead us to lift up our community in unique ways before God.
Here are four requests to consider when praying for your community and its leaders.
1. Wisdom and humility
Let’s start where Paul encourages us to focus our prayers — on “those in authority.” Like the authorities who Paul is referring to in 1 Timothy 2, we may not always see eye-to-eye with those who have power in our communities. However, we can still pray for our leaders to have wisdom in their decision-making and humility in their leadership.
The Book of James discusses two types of wisdom — earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom. The author says that we can see earthly wisdom in how it originates from “bitter envy” and “selfish ambition.”
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17 NIV).
Pray for those in your community with authority to have heavenly wisdom and the humility to be a servant leader like Christ. You’ll see a difference when leaders act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8).
We live in a divided world — racially, politically, spiritually, and the list goes on. This is not news to anyone paying attention to the course of history. With the 24/7 news cycle and social media, these dividing lines feel more present and closer to us than ever.
However, we know that God desires reconciliation. Galatians 3:28 (NIV) says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
We can see these divisions throughout our community, which is why we must pray for God to heal these fractures and remove these lines that divide so that we can see each other as children of God, rather than the labels that the world would have us use instead. Before we write a harsh social media post or make a swift judgment on a person, it’s critical to remember that “anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness” (1 John 2:9 NIV).
God also longs for restoration. We see his ultimate vision for this throughout scripture, from Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of man to what he reveals to John in Revelation 21. In this passage of scripture, John sees “a new heaven and a new earth” and one seated on the throne who says, “I am making everything new.”
In our community, we can pray for hearts to turn toward God and understand the unconditional love of Jesus. Additionally, we can pray for restoration in families and marriages in our community. Broken families and marriages can cause communities to crumble, but we know that God calls husbands and wives to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21 NIV).
When hearts are turning to God and selflessness is a priority, communities can be restored. Pray for restoration in your community that leads to change both in and out of homes.
4. Bearing fruit
Finally, pray to see the fruit of wisdom, humility, reconciliation, and restoration. Pray to see the changes that wise and humble leaders make when they are thinking about the best interests of the community and not their selfish ambition. Pray to see a community that stands united and can heal from the wounds of past history. Pray to see families strengthened and hearts changed.
Jesus said, “… every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:17-18 NIV). What kind of fruit do you see your community bearing today? Is there pain, suffering, and hate? Or do you see people caring about people in love and kindness?
Next time you pray, think about the needs of your community. Invite God’s presence into your community. Jesus invites us to “abide in his love” (John 15:9b ESV). Pray that the community you live in would abide in his love. If you’re part of a body of believers, encourage them to also pray for God’s transformative power to take hold in the community. When you start praying these prayers of transformation, be ready for God to move in his timing. Not only that, but be ready for God to show you how you should move in your community to be his hands and feet.