“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.” 1 Samuel 12:23 (NIV)
The prophet Samuel, in his farewell address and final warnings to Israel, reminds them of his faithfulness to fulfill God’s mandate upon his life to pray for them. My use of the word mandate to describe his prayer commitment is intentional because it refers to a royal command or authorization to act in a particular way. In this instance, Samuel’s prayer mandate from the Lord is so serious that he would consider it a sin if he did not do it.
A prayer mandate is a sacred trust in which God conscripts His prayer watchmen and warriors to intercede on behalf of particular groups of people for the fulfillment of His purposes in their lives.
Prayer mandates are common throughout the Bible. They reveal God’s heart and intentions for His creation. They are invitations to enter into the implementation of God’s sovereign plans in the earth. Prayer mandates gripped the lives of Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Esther, just to mention a few of the Old Testament saints.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul repeatedly makes reference to his unceasing, night and day prayer for the churches that he established. (Colossians 1:9, 1 Thessalonians 3:10, 2 Timothy 1:3 etc.) At one point in reference to this mandate he confesses “I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:28 NIV)
It is not unusual to receive from God multiple prayer mandates. Paul reveals that he also had a mandate from God to pray for Israel’s salvation. “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1 NIV)
One of the best examples of a prayer mandate in action is the prayer that Jesus prays in John 17. In His prayer He clearly delineates His mandate when He says He is praying to the Father for a very specific group of people: “for all those you have given me” (vs. 2, 6) and for “those who will believe in me through their message.” (vs. 20) “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” (John 17:9)
What group(s) of people has God given you responsibility to pray for? Do you have one or more prayer mandates that God has given you as a sacred trust of intercession for His purposes to be fulfilled?
Prayer mandates provide a rhythm to our life of prayer by assigning us a priority to praying regularly for particular groups of people. They give us specific focus and direction for prayer that when revisited again and again add a depth of increasing revelation, wisdom and authority.
My prayer life has been enriched immeasurably by giving attention to the prayer mandates that God has set before me. By way of personal testimony I pray that if you have struggled in establishing a rhythm of prayer you may be encouraged by what I am learning. As I have sought the Lord for clarity on my prayer mandates I have identified seven distinct groups of people for whom I am specifically responsible to pray.
For simplicities sake I have assigned a specific mandate to each day of the week: Mondays – My City and County, Tuesdays – The Persecuted and Suffering of the World, Wednesdays – The Nations (Specific nations as the Holy Spirit leads), Thursdays – My State and the United States, Fridays – Israel, Saturdays – Family & Friends, and Sundays – The Church. In my regular rhythm of praying weekly for each mandate I have added appropriate scripture promises and professions while developing an ever changing list of specific people and things for which to pray.
Now by force of habit, each morning when I awake my mind and spirit immediately gravitate to prayer for the mandate of the day. By use of my accumulated revelation and knowledge on the topic, crafted prayer and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, I now find it is easy to launch into sustainable and energized prayer. Another thing that I am noticing is that the burden for the mandate is carrying beyond my morning prayer time into my consciousness as prayer reminders throughout the day.
One other thing that has helped with each mandate is taking advantage of resources available to keep me updated on current developments. Subscriptions to news services on selected topics like Google alerts is an easy way to stay informed and pray both in the Spirit and with the understanding. (1 Corinthians 14:15)
It is my conviction that both individuals and churches would do well to seek God to identify their respective prayer mandates. They provide an energizing, unifying factor in prayer that most importantly is a sharing in the heart and purposes of God for His world. Oh, that we might continually press on to know the Lord!!
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