How Often Do You Pray For Your City?

Timothy Keller | October 8th 2018

“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29 v 7

The Jewish exiles in Babylon were told to pray for their city (Jeremiah 29 v 7) although and because it was a very pagan place. They were not merely to pray that the city would turn from its idols but for its entire “peace and prosperity.” Elsewhere in the Bible, Peter calls all Christians “exiles,” and James even calls us “the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (1 Peter 1 v 1; James 1 v 1). So it is reasonable to conclude that God wants Christians everywhere to pray for their cities. They should pray not only for the flourishing of their city’s churches and evangelistic witness, but also for the very life of the city—for the health of its economy, the justice of its governance, and the relationships between its racial groups and cultures.

Your prayers against injustice will make you the kind of person who lives justly yourself

If this is what God wants for us, how do we carry it out? There is no better help and guide I know for this task than 5 Things to Pray for your City by Helen Thorne and Pete Nicholas.

The authors write, “Urban churches have the world on our doorstep. But if we want to see God work in our cities and through our churches, we need to pray. That's where this little book is designed to help. It will enlarge your vision and equip you to pray passionately and powerfully for the salvation and renewal of your city.”

There are basically two purposes for petitionary prayer—to change the world’s status quo (“thy kingdom come”) and to align our hearts with God’s heart (“thy will be done”). If we let one or the other of these purposes become too dominant, our prayers become too shrill and manipulative or too passive and defeatist.

If, rather, you keep these two purposes in balance as you pray for your city, you will not only see changes in the city but in yourself. Your prayers against injustice will make you the kind of person who lives justly yourself. Your prayers for holiness in the church will make you long more for holiness in yourself. Your prayers for witness in the city will make you more willing to testify to God’s grace yourself.

Let’s pray for our cities. Who can tell what will happen when we pray to the God who says we cannot even begin to imagine the things he has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2 v 9) and who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11 v 6).


This article was adapted from Tim Keller’s introduction to 5 Things to Pray for Your City.

5 Things to Pray for Your City has been developed in partnership with London City Mission and Redeemer City to City, and is flexible enough to be used whatever your urban context.

Use this book to:
• Guide your prayers during your personal quiet times
• Equip church members to pray meaningfully for your city
• Help you prepare expressive public intercessions for church
• Fuel your church prayer meeting
• Initiate and take part in a city-wide prayer movement

Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He received his Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and his Doctor of Ministry from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the author of such New York Times bestselling books as The Reason for God and Prayer. He is also Chairman of Redeemer City to City, which has helped start over 380 churches in global cities worldwide. He lives in New York City with his wife Kathy.

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