Should we pray for others?

You may have heard many Christians uttering statements like “I am praying for you”. Christ is our Mediator. He neither gave His role of intercession to anyone nor did He asked us to intercede for others. Jesus Christ preached to sinners, hypocrites and even rebuked cities like Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum for them not repenting of their sins but never prayed for them to believe in Him or repent. But His prayers for others, specifically for sinners and unbelievers is extremely limited to just one particular situation. Even His model prayer has nothing for others.

The reason for this is because, sinners repenting of their sins and unbelievers believing in Christ’s words is neither God’s responsibility nor He will force sinners to repent of their sins. It is the responsibility of each sinner to enter through the narrow gate and walk through the difficult path if s/he wants to inherit eternal life. In this post, let’s explore Christ’s prayers for how and what we need to pray for others.

Forgiveness for Persecutors

Matt 5:44 …  pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you

What should we pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us? Let’s see what Jesus prayed for: Did Jesus ever pray for scribes and hypocrites that these must repent of their sins? No, on the contrary He preached to them and even rebuked them for their thoughts and deeds.

Luke 23:33-34 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

Jesus never prayed to God to make those who persecute Him to repent of their sins but rather, He prayed for their forgiveness from God for their actions.

Mark 11:25-26 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Not only Jesus prayed for His persecutors for their forgiveness from God, He also taught the same to us to forgive others even before praying to God.

Faith for Believers

Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

Jesus prayed for Peter when satan had asked to sift him as a wheat, that his faith must not fail.

John 17:6,9,15 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. …  I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. …  I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.

When Jesus prayed to the Father on the eve of His crucifixion, He did not pray for the world but for His disciples who kept His word that God should keep them from the evil one.

1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.

Jas 5:15-16 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

This is the same message of John in his first letter that we must pray for brothers and sisters in Christ who commit sin that does not lead to death (which is again faith-related). This is also the same message of James to confess our transgressions to each other and pray for the sick within the church. But for those who commit sin that lead to death, we must not pray for them. Sins leading to death are nothing but sins in the law that has a death penalty. e.g., adultery (Lev 20:10), murder (Num 35:16), etc. Some sins in the law does not have a death. e.g, manslaughter – death due to accidents (Num 35:22-25), swearing thoughtlessly (Lev 5:4-6), etc.

We must be extremely careful in not taking the role of Christ who is our Mediator as if He is deaf to hear the prayers of His own believers or too much prayer is required for Him to listen – after all, His hears are not heavy to hear as in Isa 59:1. Christ who is our Mediator, doesn’t require another mediator. Jesus wants everyone to pray for themselves having a personal relationship directly with the Father as He taught us in the model prayer.

Conclusion

Jer 7:16 “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.  … (11:14) So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble. … (14:11) Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for this people, for their good.

In the book of Jeremiah, when prophet Jeremiah was praying to God for a sinful people, He even stops him from praying for them.

1 John 2:1-3 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

Luke 18:7-8  .. shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. …

We have Jesus Christ who is a better mediator than Jeremiah who can intercede for us to the Father if we keep His commandments. We shouldn’t take the role of Jesus Christ to intercede or mediate for others. Jesus neither prayed for unbelievers and sinners to believe in Him nor did He prayed for their repentance. The only prayer He uttered for unbelievers is for those who persecuted Him asking God for their forgiveness, for He knew God will avenge them speedily.