“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.