October 17: “What Am I Supposed to Pray For?” 

7 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Jeremiah 30:1–31:26
1 Timothy 2:1-15 
Psalm 87:1-7 
Proverbs 25:18-19

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

1 Timothy 2:1 (NLT): “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”

Reflections from Scripture:

Praying is an interesting Christian discipline. While we are action-oriented and feel compelled to get up and do something, God often calls us to spend time on our knees (at least figuratively) in communication with Him.

If there is any notion in our minds that prayer is a passive practice, it is only because we have not experienced the power of prayer and the power of a God who hears and answers prayer. Prayer is the means by which we enter the very Throne Room of Heaven and talk with the God of all Creation about whatever is on our hearts. Often, Heaven is moved by our prayers (Psalm 50:15; etc.) and refuses to act when we don’t pray (James 4:2).

Well, what are we to pray about? Simply look at 1 Timothy 2:1 for some of the topics that can occupy our prayer time.

“… to pray for all people …” 

There is nobody that fits outside the scope of these words. So, pray for your family. Pray for your co-workers and peers. Pray for your neighbors. Pray for the leaders in your church and those leading your city and nation. This list could go on and on.

“… Ask God to help them …”

Whoever you are praying for, ask that God would help them. Ask that God would give them things like strength, courage, wisdom, patience, and whatever else is necessary.

“… intercede on their behalf …”

Maybe they are praying for themselves. Maybe they aren’t. But, you can pray for them on their behalf. Maybe you will never, ever have direct contact with them, but you can have contact with the very Throne Room of Heaven and bless them from a distance with your prayers.

“… and give thanks for them …”

Thankfulness is a huge theme in the New Testament. Over and over, we are reminded to be thankful for all things. So, when we read these words, we aren’t surprised that we are to be grateful for the folks we are praying for. Maybe we can express our gratitude to God for their good qualities. Or, perhaps we can express our gratitude to God for what He is doing and will do in their lives even though they might stand diametrically opposed to everything we stand for. Whoever they are and whatever they are like, find a reason to be thankful for them.

So, Christian, pray for everyone. In fact, why not spend the next few moments lifting up some specific people in prayer.

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, if I am completely honest, I would have to admit that I am much more self-centered in my Christianity than I would like to admit. But, I will acknowledge my self-centeredness to you right now and ask for Your forgiveness. I also want to cultivate more of an others-centered mindset, and I will spend some time very soon praying for others. Help me in this, Lord. I can do nothing, or continue to do anything of spiritual substance, without You. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Gracious Adebayo on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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