How to Pray for Others Using the Lord's Prayer
“Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God. . . . We must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence.” - Tim Keller, Prayer
Prayer is our personal and corporate communion with God. It is how we engage in relationship and conversation with our King, Lover, Savior, and Shepherd. We are both commanded to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and to seek God’s presence continually (1 Chronicles 16:11). Overall, there are 650 prayers listed throughout the Bible. Our call to pray is not something that should be taken lightly but with consistent and expectant joy. It is a joy and grace that we can come before God in prayer and petition for ourselves, and even more so for others. 1 Timothy 2:1 urges us to pray for all people, and James 5:16 commands us to confess our sins to one another pray for one another. It is a great privilege to pray at all, but how much more of a privilege is it to be able to pray for the people we love? With this in mind, let us consider how prayer should include both our own petitions and the petitions of others.
How Should We Pray?
There is no special formula or quick trick to learn to pray. Our prayer life is cultivated over time through our understanding of God’s grace, continued study of God’s Word, and consistency in prayer. It is only through our understanding of God’s grace that we can come to pray rightly. If we pray with the mindset of God as a genie in a bottle, or with the idea that we can win God’s favor, then we have deeply misunderstood what God has done, and the purpose of prayer.
Prayer is an act of communion that we have gained through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin on the cross and reconciled us back to God. His sacrifice made the way for our sin to be fully covered so that we can have full access to God through prayer. Before making any petition or prayer, we must rightly acknowledge that we can come to the throne of God because of Jesus’ atoning work. This grants us hopeful expectation as we pray and believe John 15:7:
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Not only do we come with hopeful expectation, but we come to God in prayer as His words abide in us. We must pray in response to God’s Word because prayer is first and foremost communion and a conversation between ourselves and God. Even when we don’t know what to pray, we can come to the throne of God, and joyfully expect Him to move because the Spirit intercedes for us.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” - Romans 8:26-27
With this at the forefront of our minds, we can begin praying by looking to Jesus and how He taught His disciples to pray in the Lord’s Prayer.
A Framework to Pray for Others
As we contemplate the Lord’s Prayer, let us look at each statement and phrase, and consider how we might pray for others in response to God’s Word with an understanding of grace:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name-
We start our prayer by first acknowledging whose we are. God is our Father, and we are His children. Placing this at the beginning of our prayers helps to remind us that God is a good Father, who loves to give good gifts (Luke 11:13, James 1:17). We follow this by placing God in His rightful place— on the throne. To hallow God’s name is to give Him the due honor that He deserves. This leads us to begin our prayers with songs of praise and to ask God to extend His power over every area of our lives—emotional, physical, and spiritual. Therefore, we should pray that others find their identity as a child of God and honor Him as their Lord, praising Him for the good works He is doing in their lives.