How to Pray in the Trenches: Pray for All the Lord’s People

By Mark D. Roberts

February 11, 2020

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)


I find it easy to pray for the people I love, for my family, friends, members of my church, and colleagues at work. I care about them and don’t have to try hard to pray for them.

A black and white sign that reads "please smile at strangers"But I confess that I’m not great when it comes to praying for people I don’t know. Yes, I believe prayer can make a difference in their lives. And, yes, I know it’s good for my heart to be stretched by praying more broadly. But this is something I have to be intentional about.

I get encouragement in this regard from Ephesians 6:18. This verse urges us to “keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Literally, the Greek reads, “for all of the saints [hagioi]”. The NIV, fearful that “saints” might be misinterpreted, opts for “the Lord’s people” rather than “saints.” In the vocabulary of the New Testament, the saints are those who have been set apart by God for relationship with him and his people. The saints are those who are set apart for God’s work in the world. In other words, the saints aren’t only special or exemplary Christians, as we sometimes think; the saints are all who are in relationship with God by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). The saints are, well, all of “the Lord’s people.”

So, how are we to pray for “all of the saints”? I suppose we could end every prayer with, “and I pray for all of your people, Lord. Amen.” But I’m not sure this would actually be consistent with the intent of Ephesians 6:18. Nor do I think we’re required to pray by name for every single saint on earth. That would take more time than we have in this life. Rather, the exhortation to pray for “all of the saints” should help us to look beyond our own inner circle, to pay attention to brothers and sisters who need God’s help, whether they’re in other churches in our city, or whether they live on the other side of the globe. When we do this, we’re reminded of the broadness of the body of Christ. Our minds and hearts are expanded with love for God’s people, even those we will never meet.

Something to Think About:

How do you respond to the call to pray for all of the Lord’s people?

In what ways do you do this?

How might you grow in your prayers for those outside of your inner circle of relationships?

Something to Do:

With your small group or a Christian friend, talk about how you might pray for “all of the saints.” Then, do it together.


Gracious God, though you know me deeply and truly, and though you love me individually, you are the God of all your people. Your knowledge and love are so much broader than I can even imagine.

Teach me, Lord, how to pray for “all of the saints.” Stretch my vision, my mind, my heart. Help me to lift up in prayer those who need your grace today, including those whom I do not know.

In particular, today I pray for the other churches in my city. Some I know; most I don’t. But you know them and their needs, so I ask you to bless them. Pour out your goodness upon them. Fill them afresh with your Spirit. Amen.

Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
You Are a Saint

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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