In his fine book that deals with the person and work of the Holy Spirit, Abraham Kuyper talks about prayer and the Holy Spirit’s role in it. The section is quite good. One thing that stuck out to me was how Kuyper explained intercessory prayer with regard to the phrase, “Thy kingdom come.” He said this first of all has to do with our love towards God, and secondly towards our neighbor. When it comes to praying for our neighbor, Kuyper says there is a “twofold intercession:” 1) prayer about matters that do not pertain to the church and 2) prayer about matters that do pertain to the church. Here are his own words.
“Prayer for kings, and for all that are in authority, does not concern the things that pertain to the body of Christ; neither does the prayer for our enemies, nor that for the place of our habitation, for country, army, and navy, for a bountiful harvest, for deliverance from pestilence, for trade and commerce, etc. All these pertain to the natural life, and to persons, whether saints or sinners, in their relation to the life of creation, and not to the Kingdom of Grace.”
Then he talks about prayers that do pertain to the Kingdom of Grace, which has to do with the church.
“But our prayer does concern the body of Christ, when we pray for the coming of the Lord, for a fresh anointing of the priests of God, for their being clothed upon with salvation, for success in the work of missions, for a baptism of the Holy Spirit, for strength in conflict, for forgiveness of sins, for the salvation of our loved ones, for the effectual conversion of the baptized seed of the Church.”
He then again distinguishes: “The first intercession [#1 above] has reference to the realm of nature, the second [#2 above] to the Kingdom of Grace.” Kuyper also goes on to mention how our prayers for people from the realm of nature have to do with the fact that all men are humans created by the triune God – but our prayers for Christians/churches have to do with the Kingdom of Grace, the fact that these people are not only created but also redeemed by the triune God.
I’m not trying to argue too much here; I simply want to point out how Kuyper was working within the historic Reformed/Reformation tradition of distinguishing the Kingdom of Power and the Kingdom of Grace. Thomas Watson, Wilhelmus a Brakel, and even Martin Luther used these same categories. For more info, I recommend David VanDrunen’s book that deals with this – specifically chapter 7.