Martin Luther, one of the most influential figures in the Protestant Reformation, had the right perspective about prayer when he wrote, “Prayer is the mightiest of all weapons that created natures can wield.”

            As we draw closer to earth’s final days and spiritual warfare escalates all around us, prayer is a weapon we cannot afford to neglect. Though we might do whatever we can to push back the growing tide of secular culture and moral decay, if we are not active in prayer, we are entering the battle without one of the most powerful weapons God has given us. As the apostle Paul reminds us, “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh” (2 Corinthians 10:4). For us to be effective in today’s culture, we need to master the spiritual weapon of prayer.  

            As we seek to be people of prayer in these last days, what should we pray for?

The Pattern of Your Prayers

1. Pray for God’s Kingdom to Come

A good starting point is a request Jesus included in what is affectionately known as the Lord’s Prayer. Immediately after addressing the Father, Jesus said we are to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). As we look around us, it’s clear that God is not ruling on earth as He is in heaven. We live on a fallen planet that is in bondage to sin—Satan is now “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31).

As Christians, we are to pray for and eagerly await the day when Christ returns to set up His earthly kingdom. For us to pray, “Your kingdom come” is to pray for God’s rule to be restored on earth. As we pray in anticipation of this, one way we can help to express God’s rule in a fallen culture is by doing His will—by living as He wants us to. Through our lives, a watching world can see what an earthly kingdom ruled by God would look like.

2. Pray That You Would Live Wisely

For us to do God’s will on earth will always be a battle. Temptations abound, and Satan never ceases in His efforts to make us ineffective by luring us into sin. That is why Paul wrote, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). We cannot let down our guard. We need to walk carefully, with discernment. We are to “be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

Like David, we need to pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24). To pray for personal purity is to live wisely and be a vessel God can use in a world that desperately needs Him.

3. Pray for All People, Including Governing Authorities

It’s easy for us to fill our prayers with requests about our own needs or on behalf of those who are close to us. It’s much harder to pray for governing authorities—either because they are distant from us, or because we don’t agree with their policies or worldviews. This is especially true in a day when Christians are facing more hostility than ever from all directions, including government leaders.

Yet in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul wrote, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions.” We are to pray for those who rule over us. You might ask, “But what if the government is wicked?” That doesn’t matter—at the time Paul wrote those words, the notoriously cruel Nero was the emperor of Rome. He carried out the first systemic slaughter of Christians in the Roman Empire, brutally putting hundreds if not thousands of them to death. Jesus Himself said we are to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). No matter how difficult we may find it to pray for governing authorities, we are urged to do so.

Paul then goes on to tell us why we should pray for kings and others who are in high positions—he says such prayer “is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). We’re to pray for their salvation and that they would know the truth.

Nowhere in the New Testament are we urged to pray people out of office or to rely on political reform to turn a country around. If we want to bring real change to a nation, we should pour our energies into pointing people to Christ and the truth. To do that effectively, we need to live godly lives. In all three major New Testament passages about how believers are to relate to governing authorities, we are commanded to do good and be peaceful (Romans 13:3-4; 1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Peter 2:15-16). After all, no earthly kingdom will last anyway. Why not reach as many people as we can for God’s kingdom?

4. Pray for Your Fellow Believers

In these last days, we can be certain that life will continue to grow more difficult for us as Christians. As Jesus warned in John 16:33, we “will have tribulation.” The apostle John wrote, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Satan will do everything he can to attack the church and diminish its impact, and we will face opposition from those who reject God and truth.

That is why we need to pray regularly for our fellow believers—that they will continue to meet together and uphold one another so we can all stand strong. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us the importance of doing this as we get closer to Christ’s return: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together…encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

“The Day drawing near” is a clear reference to the second coming. The fact we are living in the last days makes obedience to this command all the more urgent. In a time when political disagreements and personal opinions so easily divide, we need to pursue the unity that is found in Christ and His Word. We need to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). It is only as we build on the foundation of God’s Word and commit ourselves to its truths that we will be able to withstand the storms that come our way (Matthew 7:24-25).

Together, we can serve as a powerful testimony to the world of the attractiveness of living as citizens of God’s kingdom rather than an earthly kingdom. Divided, we are unable to give the world any reason to seek God as their King instead of human kings.

The Power of Your Prayers

            When Martin Luther penned his words about prayer being the mightiest weapon we can wield, he may have been thinking about James 5:16, which says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power.” As we await the arrival of God’s kingdom, and as we seek to walk righteously in wisdom, we will put ourselves in a place where our prayers for governing authorities and for fellow believers will be more effective. We will become people God can use as the day of Christ’s return draws nearer.

            Most important of all, when we are steadfast in prayer, our focus will stay on the things of heaven rather than the things of earth. We will be encouraged as we keep our eyes on God rather than discouraged by what is happening around us.

            May we make faithful use of this spiritual weapon God has given us!