1. Thank God for Them
Paul says that he always thanks God for the Colossians when he prays for them (Colossians 1:3). Nothing releases the flow of Holy Spirit over your life than being thankful. You can never go wrong with this step. Thanksgiving reminds you of your love for them, and love is the fuel for effective prayers. Allow your thankfulness lead you toward focusing on God’s heart for them.
2. Listen to What God Says
Paul has specific requests He prays for the Colossians. He prays that they may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way (Colossians 1:9-10). However, this was not his standard prayer for every church. While he may have wanted this for every church, we don’t see him praying it elsewhere. In fact, to the Ephesians he prays something completely different. There he prays for the spirit of wisdom and for the eyes of the heart enlightened (Ephesians 1:17-18).
God alone knows what everyone needs. As we come into His presence through thanksgiving, ask Him what we are to pray and write down what He shows you. Even if you don’t get specific prayers, there is nothing more powerful than spending time in God’s presence with other people on your heart.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
3. Consider Their Prayer Requests
The other people you want to pray for may have given you prayer requests. These requests give you a glimpse into what is going on for them. Paul asked the Colossians to pray for specific things. He wanted God to open a door for his ministry and for him to proclaim it clearly, making the most of every opportunity (Colossians 4:3-5). Honor their requests by praying them before the Lord.
Don’t worry if these requests are different than what you got in your time with the Lord. Paul prayed something different for the Colossians than Epaphras. Epaphras prayed for them to stand firm in all the will of God, mature, and fully assured (Colossians 4:12). The point is not so much about getting the wording right as it is about spending time with God and bringing others into His presence. God wants to connect with your heart. If you bring others to Him on your heart, He will translate that prayer into what is best for them.
4. It’s Not All About You
Now that you have gotten things to pray for, you may be tempted to just pray through those requests. Remember God is the only one who knows what they need. While those requests may have been needed last week, God may have something different for you to pray today. Allow your focus to be on Him to direct your prayers. If you don’t have any other specific directions, then by all means continue the last known path.
How do you pray for others? Simply by spending time with your Heavenly Father and taking those you love into His presence. If you can do this, you will know what words to pray when words are necessary. May your prayers for others see exponential increase in their effectiveness.