DEVOTIONAL | SHANNON MILLER
“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.” – J. Sidlow Baxter
There are times when we should speak up, in our families, our communities, or in the political process. But we must never forget that our most powerful voice in any situation is the one we lift to God in prayer. When we pray, the Father inclines His ear to hear, and summons angels on our behalf (Psalm 10:17, Daniel 9:20-23). The time spent in His presence corrects our narrow perspectives and strengthens us to do His will (Psalm 73, Romans 8:26, Mark 14:38).
Whom should we pray for? Although “everyone” is a great answer, Scripture points us to specific groups too. We should pray for people in authority, whose decisions affect our daily lives. “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. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth,” (1 Timothy 2:1-4, NLT).
We should pray for fellow believers. And even if you personally are not called to preaching, public evangelism, or foreign missions, you can advance the Gospel by praying for those who are. “Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will boldly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it fearlessly, as I should,” (Ephesians 6:18-20, BSB).
Now for the hardest one: we should pray for people who oppose us and are cruel to us. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you,” (Luke 6:28, ESV). That word “abuse” here, and “mistreat, hurt, or spitefully use” in other translations, refers to “custom-crafted reviling,” meaning a cruel personal insult or false accusation. This verse is not about generalized persecution, but those moments when it feels personal. The Lord will work out forgiveness in our hearts, and His perfect will in the lives of those who need our forgiveness, when we choose to pray blessings over them.
When we take the time to first bring every concern to the Lord who fights for us, our own words and actions can be full of peace, truth, and love (Colossians 4:2-6).