Peter reminds his readers in 1 Peter 3:9 that God has called them to pray. Often we discuss the matter of knowing God’s will for our lives. Generally such discussion focuses on aspects which God has not revealed in his Word and which can only be discovered through his providential workings, such as who we shall marry or where shall we live. Yet there are many aspects of his will that are revealed in the Bible and prayer for saints and sinners is one of them. We are called by God to pray with particular attitudes for them, and this calling is lifelong (we must do it all our days) and loving (intercession is not the only means of expressing love, but it is unlikely that love is present if there is no intercession).
As we think about this calling, it is a reminder that prayer is an essential element of the fulfilment of God’s purpose. He has arranged his purpose to include the prayers of his people. What we should pray for is shown to us in his Word and in his providence (regarding the latter, we pray for what is happening to the Christians we know and the non-Christians that we meet).
There is a sense in which we can say that God brings items for prayer right up to us and it is very difficult to ignore what they are although we may not notice that they could be directions regarding those for whom we should pray. If we were to take time and reflect on people we have met today, we would discover several things to pray for.
For example, I was once travelling on a train and across from me was a doctor from a hospital whom I had not seen before. I know he was a doctor because he was taking on the phone to his secretary about some of his patients. My question is, Why in God’s providence did I hear about those people whom I do not know? I suspect I should have made some brief prayers about them. (Something similar can happen when we are sitting in a café or on a bus. We hear things about people that we can pray about.) The list of such providential dealings is almost endless. We are to regard such providential information as God giving to us the privilege of praying about them.