Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
Sometimes we need help knowing how to pray for things. Below are many topics we find ourselves praying over. For each one there are tips, help and suggestions from God’s Word on how to pray for them all.
HOW DO WE PRAY FOR OUR NATION?
We pray for humility, knowing God is God of all nations and does with them what He pleases, including America (Ps. 47:1-9; Isa 40:15). So we pray God will bless our nation with strength and prosperity and peace (Job 12:23). Also we pray for America’s spiritual renewal (Ps 144:15) and repentance (Jonah 3:5-10); that we would turn to righteousness and away from wickedness (Prv 14:34;16:3), remembering God (Ps 9:17; Isa 26:2) and praise His Name (Ps 117:1). Pray that God would not judge us by giving us over to our sins (Rom 1:24-32) or bringing calamity upon us (Ps 79:6; Isa 34:1-3; 60:12). Over and over we see the righteous should intercede for their nation and therefore we should lamentfully acknowledge our nation’s sins (Exodus 32:7-14; Ezra 9:1-15; Daniel 9:3-5). Pray for our leaders (both good and evil, those we love and those we hate!) that God would accomplish His perfect purpose through them (Gen. 50:20; Pvb 16:4; Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11). Pray for their salvation (1 Tim 2:4). Pray God would bless us with just, wise and good people in government (Pvb 21:15; 29:2; Rom 13:1-5). Pray America blesses Israel that we may be blessed by God (Gen 12:3; Numbers 24:9; Ps 122:6; Mt 25:40,45). Finally, pray that the faithful and the Church would be a praying Church, not sinning by failing to pray for our nation and our leaders (1 Sam 12:23; 1 Tim 2:1-2).
HOW DO WE PRAY FOR OURSELVES & OTHERS WHO ARE SUFFERING
We tend to think suffering is all-encompassing and includes any hardship or trial we may go through – job loss, ill health, relationship breakdowns, etc. However, the Bible usually has a specific meaning for suffering and that is the hostility we face for our faith in Jesus. So lets focus on how we can pray for ourselves and others who are putting up with hostility and scheming from people who don’t like our faith.
“Father teach me not to be ashamed or surprised or think it strange to suffer for the name of Jesus (1 Pet. 4:12-19). Teach me instead to know it is what we have been called to (1 Pet 2:21), and to ‘count it pure joy when facing trials’ for my faith (Jms 1:2) and even to rejoice in being counted worthy to suffer for the Name (Acts 5:41), to know I am blessed and the Spirit of glory rests on me (1 Pet 4:14), and see it as a privilege granted to me on behalf of Jesus Christ (Php 1:29; Pet 4:12-19). May I see I am blessed when I am ‘persecuted because of righteousness” and ‘when people insult me, persecute me and falsely say all kinds of things against me because of you Jesus’ (Mt. 5:10-11). Though the world hates me I know that it hated you first Lord Jesus, and if they hate me I know its because I belong to you (Jn 15:18-19). Teach me not to hate those who hate me, but to love my enemies and pray for them, to do good to them and to return good to those who do evil to me (Mt. 5:43-48; Rom 12:17-21). By your grace I will not retaliate or seek revenge (Rom 12:19), but instead like Jesus when He suffered I will entrust myself to the One who judges justly and who is my faithful Creator (1 Pet 2:21-23; 4:19). In this way you make me perfect like you are perfect (Mt. 5:48), refining my faith and proving it genuine (1 Pet 1:6-7), and teach me to wait on you with patient endurance (Rev 1:9; 1 Pet 2:19-23), continuing to overcome evil by doing good (Rom 12:21; See also Ps 119:50, 67, 71)
HOW ARE PRAYER & FAITH CONNECTED?
Faith prays. When we are trusting God in life we pray to Him, “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Php 4:6), and, “pray continually” (1 Thess 5:17) and “pray..on all occasions ….always keep on praying…” (Eph. 6:18). Faith is what makes us keep on praying, like the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. Also consider that when we are always trying to be in control we don’t pray – because we are relying on ourselves, “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” (Isa 2:22). The key is trusting God is in control and that cares, “Cast all your burdens on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). It goes the other way too: prayer strengthens faith. The more we pray the more confidence in God we have because we see His hand at work “You have not because you ask not” (Jms 4:2). How could we not turn to the one that we know has all power and wisdom? “Lord, if you are willing I know you are able” (Mk 1:40), and “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power…” (Eph. 3:20). It is not long prayers with flowing and eloquent speech that makes God hear us, “Do not be like the pagans when you pray and keep on babbling, for they think that by their many words they will be heard.” (Mt. 6:7). Instead God hears faith, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” (Mk 11:24) and “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb 11:6). Faith expressing itself in prayer is the key to peace, “present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Php 4:7). Bottom line: prayer without faith is impotent and faith without prayer may not actually be faith. Faith prays!
HOW SHOULD HUSBANDS & WIVES PRAY?
Pray for husbands to love their wives sacrificially like Christ loves the Church. Also, for wives to respect and submit to their husbands in all godliness (Eph. 5:22-31). Pray for mutual encouragement and edification of one another (Rom 1:12) like iron sharpening iron (Pvb 27:17), or as I say, “that we are better in our faith for having been married to one another.” Pray for the deepening of their prayer lives together (1 Cor 7:5; 1 Pet 3:7), for maturing as a man and woman of God, and maturing of their marriage with time and commitment. Pray for them to keep getting better at grace, forgiveness and selfless love each year (Philippians 2:3-4). Pray they allow no bitterness or resentment to grow (Eph. 4:29-5:2; Col 3:13). Pray for them to be pure and holy, devoted in mind, body, eyes and soul to each other, keeping the marriage bed pure (Heb 13:4). Pray that their marriages shine like stars in this corrupt and dark generation where people notice that as Christians they have something together that many marriages don’t (Philippians 2:15). Pray for commitment to God by both so that through the storms of life and marriage they are bonded together more in unity. Pray they honor each other privately and publicly, respecting and admiring each other. Pray the “fire” doesn’t die out but grows (Song of Songs! 1 Cor. 7:3-5). We must pray in our marriages and for our marriages. And we must pray for each other’s marriages!
HOW DO WE WAIT ON THE LORD?
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5-6)
It is not easy to wait. We are very impatient. We want everything right now: comfort, justice, results, answers, help. But as Christians God teaches us to wait on Him and His timing. Christian maturity is marked by a growing ability to let longer periods of time pass with an unfading hope in God’s promises. We are told to “wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). We for our new bodies: “wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). We are told God will bring “salvation” and “mercy” to those who are waiting (Hebrews 9:28; Jude 21). We wait for His help (Ps 33:20) and when we see evil all around we don’t lose heart: “be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when evil men succeed in their ways and carry out their wicked schemes.” (Ps 37:7). We wait for God’s justice when we suffer injustice, “Do not say, ‘I will pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the LORD and he will deliver you.” (Proverbs 20:22). It’s seen in the virtue of “patience”, which has less to do with backed up traffic and more to do with being godly while undergoing persecution (“
But how do we “wait” on the Lord? My best answer is prayer and godliness. Faithful, active praying for what we’re waiting for and faithful, godly living. “I waited patiently for the Lord he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1), and, “[God’s grace] teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope” (Titus 2:12-13). The real key in all this is faith. Faith is seen in praying. Faith is seen in holiness. Faith is seen in the waiting. Let us wait on the Lord!
HOW DO WE PRAY WHILE TEMPTED?
My first advice is to strengthen your prayer life. Pray before, during and after temptation – whatever the temptation. Prayer is communion with God and where your mind becomes saturated with thoughts of God. Thinking of God is the most powerful way to overcome temptation.
“Heavenly Father, I come to your throne of mercy right now for grace in my moment of need (Heb 4:16). I pray that you turn my focus to you (Rom 8:5-9) and that my mind and heart are set on Christ (Col 3:1-2). I don’t belong to myself – but mind, spirit and body I belong to you, O Lord (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Show me in my heart right now that I can resist this temptation, show me the way out from underneath it (1 Cor. 10:13), that I may be able to control my body in holiness (1 Thess. 4:3-5). Remind me of your Word which gives life and power to overcome sinful desire (Mt 4:4; Eph. 4:20-24). May I be holy as you are holy and have the strength to deny myself, not setting my mind on my fleshly appetites (1 Pet. 1:16; Mk 8:24; Php 3:18-19). Right now make my heart see how Christ is surpassingly greater than indulging this sin and worth so much more than gratifying my flesh (Php 3:7-8). Show my heart that it is from your grace and your strength that I live for you and not from my strength (2 Cor. 12:9-10). When I fail, remind me to humbly confess and let your grace wash over me again (1 John 1:9). Teach me to see every temptation as a moment to give you glory by choosing holiness and denying the sin that I want. In the holy name of your Son, Jesus I pray.”
HOW DO WE PRAY FOR HEALTH?
We pray for good health (3 John 2), and for recovery from illnesses and injuries. We pray knowing God is able (Eph. 3:20), that nothing is impossible for Him (Mk 10:27), and that persistence and faith are effective with Him (Mk 7:28, 32; Lk 18:1-3; Heb 11:6). At the same time we know the timing and the choice is with God regarding what He will do (2 Cor. 12:9-10; Rev. 6:10-11). We pray for faith to be submissive to His timing and His answer, knowing He is God, and to wait patiently on Him (Ps 27:14; Rom. 12:12). One thing I’ve learned of late is how God uses trials in our lives to draw out the love and compassion of the rest of the Body to deepen our fellowship with each other (Rom 12:13; 1 Cor. 12:26). Pray too that God would teach us to see how He may be using this season of ill health to grow us – knowing He uses trials and hardships to refine us, deepen our joy, and mature our wisdom and faith (2 Cor. 12:9-10; Jms 1:2-4). Sometimes sin may need repenting of so we pray that we would humbly examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:30-32; James 5:15). We pray for our spirits to thrive even if our bodies are not (2 Cor. 4:16-18), and that we eagerly hope for our new glorious bodies (Php. 3:21). To summarize our reading for tonight, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18…..as the outward things waste away may the inward things be renewed, and may we not fix our eyes on what is seen and temporary, but what is unseen and eternal.
HOW DO PARENTS PRAY FOR PARENTS?
(Not the kids but the parents themselves)
Some things…..We parents are good examples at home (1 Cor. 11:1; Php. 4:9), that we have wisdom (Pvb 1:8), that we have patience (Pvb 18:21; 19:11), that we don’t exasperate our children (Eph. 6:4), but train our children and instruct them in the things of God (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Pray too for our faith (2 Cor. 5:7) and for what may be the most important part of parenting: the strength of our marriages!
HOW DO WE PRAY FOR OUR WORKPLACE?
We should pray for how we work: that we work hard and do the job right; that we’re humble and content, have a good attitude, have integrity, work as if working for Jesus on the job, know we have an inheritance (Col 3:22-25; 1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:10-13). We should also pray to see our workplace as our mission field: for the salvation of coworkers, bosses, customers and vendors… for opportunities and boldness to witness, for courage not to compromise our integrity and character. Something else – Paul repeatedly told the churches to work so that they could be in a position to help others (Acts 20:35; Eph. 4:28). We should pray that God shows us how we can be of help to others in need with what we’ve earned. Don’t forget to pray for the success of your company and that those around you (and above you) do their jobs well.
HOW DO WE PRAY FOR LOST PEOPLE?
The Bible helps us here. We pray things like “open their hearts” (Acts 16:14), or that the “scales” would fall from their eyes (Acts 9:18) and they would “see” Christ (Acts 9:4-6; 2 Cor. 4:4). We pray also that the Spirit would “convict them” of sin and their need for a Savior (John 16:8), that the Father would “draw them to Jesus” (John 6:44). Often too we pray that God would use us to tell them and send others to tell them the Gospel.
HOW TO PRAY FOR ADDICTIONS
Most if not all of us know someone with an addiction. It is heart wrenching to watch a life torn apart, and to feel everything and everyone else around them is being torn apart too. Tonight we are going to pray for those in our lives who have addictions and that the power of God would set them free in Christ. I have seen it personally and so I know that all things truly are possible in Christ and that He is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. We will also pray for the loved ones around those with addictions for strength, patience, humility, and wisdom.
HOW TO PRAY FOR WAYWARD KIDS
Pray for God to “grant them repentance” and lead “them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses” (2 Tim. 2:25-26). Pray they come to see that whatever they think is to their “profit” that they would “consider it a loss for the sake of Christ” and consider “everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (Php 3:7-9). Pray they come to see God as greater than everything, that they would say of God, “Whom have I in heaven but you? Earth has nothing I desire besides you.” Pray that they would turn and “walk in the truth” (3 John 4) and that while “in their heart they plan their course” that the “Lord would determine their steps” (Prv 16:9) to Jesus (John 6:44). Pray that God would discipline them to bring about a righteous turn (Heb 12:5-11) to confess (Ps 32:1-5), and that they would learn to love and obey the Lord (Jn 14:15). Pray also that God uses this difficult season for you as parents. Pray God shows you how to trust Him more deeply (Isa 26:3-4), how to daily “cast your anxieties [for your kids] on Him” (1 Pet. 5:7), for wisdom in knowing how to talk (or not) to your kids in this season (Pvb 25:11). Pray too that you and your spouse come together in a deeper unity and love and support and are not divided over the kids and that your prayer life together grows stronger (1 Cor. 7:5; 1 Pet 3:7).
HOW TO PRAY FOR THOSE WHO ARE LGBTQ+
Their eyes would be opened to God’s holiness and their sin (Isa 6:5). That they would fear God’s judgment and turn to His salvation in Christ (Isa 13:9-13; Acts 17:31) That they would not be deceived by their flesh (Rom 7:11), by the world’s friendship and praise (Jms 4:4; Jn 15:19), by the devil (Jn 8:44). That great emptiness and aching would grow within them, that they would begin to search for true truth and seek God (Mt 7:7-8; Acts 17:11). That they would have ears to hear and eyes to see (Mt 11:15), that their hearts would be softened and opened to the truth of the Gospel (Heb 3:13). In short, that they would repent and renounce their former ways to follow Christ (1 Cor 6:9-11), and believe on Him for their salvation (Acts 4:12). That they would not live for the appetites of their flesh (Php 3:19; 2 Pet 2:10), that their conscience would not be seared (1 Tim 4:2) but they can still feel shame (Jer. 6:15) and it would continually convict them. That what Biblical truth they have heard they would not be able to forget or brush aside. That they would see the love and kindness of God in Jesus Christ and be drawn to the Savior (Jn 3:16; Lk 7:47; Rom 2:4). That they would humble themselves (Lk 14:11) and confess their sin as sin (1 Jn 1:9). Pray they would repent from their idolatry which has led to their persisting in perversity (Rom 1:22-27; 1 Thess 1:9). For those who want out but feel trapped that they would call on the Lord and He would open a way (Ps 18:6-19; Rom 10:13). Furthermore, pray God would relent and not continue judging our nation by giving so many over to their evil desires (Rom 1:21-28). Pray that the voice of the righteous would resound in the land (Prv 8) with the Gospel message (Col 1:6) and that many would be snatched from the fire (Jude 23), and a Ninevah-like repentance would happen in our nation (Jonah 3)
Pray that we would not sin ourselves by failing to pray (1 Sam 12:23). Pray for the right words to say, open doors in conversations, and even wisdom to know what not to say and when not to speak (Eph 6:19). Pray that we pursue our own growth in holiness (1 Thess 4:3-8) and don’t get self-righteous comparing ourselves to those we think are “worse” sinners than us (Lk 18:9-14). Pray that we do not abandon truth or our faith because someone we love is LGBTQ+ (Mt 10:34-37). Pray that we love those around us, witness to them, and ultimately trust God is in control when we know we are not. When they are out of our reach let us remembrer they are never out of God’s reach. And let us trust that whether they ever change or not that God is still good, sovereign and just.
WHAT IF I DON’T FEEL LIKE PRAYING?
Pray anyway. Prayer is too important to be neglected because of feelings. Prayer is work and no Christian will have a faithful and fruitful prayer life without discipline. It is a sign of a maturing faith when we no longer let feelings be the factor in whether we pray or not. The disciples didn’t feel like praying with Jesus in Gethsemane and He rebuked them for it (Mk 14:32-41). James says “You have not because you ask not” (4:2b) – so lets not let feelings keep us from asking. Samuel said, “Far be it from me to sin against the LORD and not pray for you.” (1 Sam 12:23). Let us not sin against the LORD merely because we didn’t feel like praying.
Rather it is faith that keeps us praying and asking (Lk 18:1-8). If we are going to “pray continually” (1 Thess 5:17) and “always keep on praying” (Eph. 6:18) then it will mean we pray even when we don’t feel like it. God doesn’t hear prayers based on whether we “feel” like praying that day. He will answer prayers that come up from our faith.
So we should keep in mind that faith is not reflected in how much we feel “it” in the moment. Faith is seen in choosing to pray because we know how important coming before God is regardless of how we feel. Choose to pray even if you don’t feel like it. I have personally found that many prayers start without feeling but end with feeling. Often I find that confessing my lack of feeling to God at the start helps as well. I am convinced that many times my “not feeling like it” was exploited by the enemy so that someone or something that needed my praying didn’t get prayed for. This is war Church! We must understand that our flesh will never “feel” like praying and no true praying is done from our flesh. Praying is spiritual through and through.
Make the commitment to pray when you don’t feel like it. A prayer plan helps. Understand prayer is done by faith and not by feelings. Understand faith does not always have “feelings” attending it. Understand feelings often come after we start praying. Understand that we need to pray when we don’t feel like it because maybe prayer will refocus our minds and hearts on God when we’ve been too distracted by the world and our flesh. Bottom line: Pray!
HOW DO WE PRAY FOR THOSE WHO ARE GRIEVING THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE?
A couple thoughts: If our loved one was a believer then we praise God that they are in the presence of Jesus and seeing Him in all His glory (John 17:25). Praise God for their joy before his throne and the release from any suffering they may have been going through in this life. We can thank God too for their life and all that the person meant to us, while also looking forward to seeing them again (1 Thess 4:14).
Not everyone who dies is a believer so we must pray that those grieving can trust them into God’s hands and be certain that God is just.
Pray for others to surround the one mourning with love and care, and sensitivity.
How else could we pray for those in the midst of suffering the loss of a loved one? Pray for them to accept and embrace the season of grieving with courage and faith. Pray too that God would lead them through into the new chapter of life and in some sense discover who they are without the person while still living with their legacy.
It is possible too that there were unresolved things in the relationship with the person who died, whether a believer or not. That can add to the grieving for those left behind and we should pray for them in that regard as well.
DOES GOD DO WHATEVER I WANT?
What if I don’t get an answer to my prayer? (believing does not obligate God to answer our request, but it is necessary for Him to answer. Gen 24:7-8; 2 Sam 15:25-26; 16:11-12; Dan 3:16-8; Mark 1:40-42…pray confident God is able while allowing Him to decide if He is willing (not presuming upon God but praying to persuade Him…)
WHAT DOES OBEDIENCE HAVE TO DO WITH PRAYER?
Our prayers are heard or ignored based on our obedience. Think about it: can we really walk in sin and disregard the Lord, and then expect Him to listen to us when we pray? Of course not. God is holy. James 5:16 says, “The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective.” Effective with God. Like Abraham was (Genesis 18:23-33). The blind man in John 9:31 saw the truth that “God does not listen to sinners” but instead “He listens to the godly person who does His will.” Consider the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 where Jesus taught the disciples to pray. He made our obedience a priority when he told us to say: “Your will be done” (10) and “lead us not into temptation” (13). When reviewing the Law for the nation of Israel God connected obedience to answered prayer. He told them to be obedient: “follow them [commands]”(5) and “observe them carefully [laws]” (6) and “be careful to watch yourselves closely” (9). In doing so they could count on God when they prayed to Him, “…the LORD our God is near us when we pray to Him” (7) If we disregard the Lord He will disregard us. If we have regard for His righteousness He will have regard for our prayers. This is why when we commit to being a praying kind of Christian we will find ourselves more and more concerned with being a righteous kind of Christian too. One last thought: prayer itself is obedience. Prayerlessness is disobedience and sin, as Samuel said, “Far be it from me to sin against the LORD and not pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23). If this sin will keep prayers from being answered then let us be obedient in the duty of prayer! After all, He’s not going to answer prayers that are never uttered! (“You do not have because you do ask God” James 4:2)
Let us each Obey and Pray!
HOW TO HANDLE DELAYED ANSWERS TO PRAYER
Don’t give up! Persist in prayer. “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Lk 18:1) Be that persistent widow who “kept coming” (18:3) and “wear out” God by your persistence (18:5). In other words, let not getting an answer make you all the more determined with God.
Keep in mind that all throughout history God has made his saints wait. “How long, LORD? WIll you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Look on me and answer, LORD my God” (Ps 13:1, 3). “My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer…” (Ps 22:2).
Faith is the key, “How long Lord?” is followed by “But I trust in your unfailing love…” (Ps 13:1, 5). If there is faith there will be persistence, like the aged prophet Simeon who “was waiting for the consolation of Israel” his whole life (Lk 2:25). Or like Abraham who did not weaken in his faith while waiting but was strengthened, as Hebrews 11 says about him: he “was looking forward..” (10) and he “was still living by faith when he died….did not receive the things promised….saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” (13)
We cannot be like those who blame God, condemn Him, walk away from Him in anger because they “prayed and God didn’t answer.” Learn humility by submitting to God’s sovereign will and timing. That is what our faith-father Abraham learned to endure years of unanswered prayer while waiting for a son. Paul was told flat out that the thorn in his side would not be removed (2 Cor 12:7-9). God stayed silent towards Job for chapter after chapter. Even our Lord Jesus’ prayer in a sense was denied, “Take this cup from me” (Mark 14:35-36). It wasn’t.
Unanswered prayer is testing. God’s delay has many reasons according to His wisdom, one of which certainly is to develop spiritual patience. That waiting teaches us to learn things like contentment, peace, and joy while not yet having what we are asking for. It teaches us to find those treasures in God Himself.
Our Lord will use unanswered prayer to purify us too. While waiting we should reflect on our lives and consider if there is ignored sin that might be holding up God’s answers, “If I had cherished sin in my heart the LORD would not have listened.” (Ps 66:18…see also Jms 4:3; Isa 1:15; 59:1-2).
Brothers and sisters we should see the time we are waiting on God to answer our prayers as a season of greater sanctification. In the waiting lessons await us – lessons in tenacious prayer, honest self-evaluation, more whole-hearted trust in God.
Waiting with you
WHY DOES PRAYER FEEL LIKE WORK?
Because it is work! Any real commitment to pray is going to be seen right away for what it is: work. The needs in your own life and everyone around, the praises to give thanks for, the lost people in your life, the life situations people share with you will quickly pile up and you will see that callous knees are your future. Some days you will be carried into prayer by rapturous thoughts of coming to the Lord while other days you will have to “slay your sloth” to get to the throne.
Keep in mind too that prayer is spiritual work and cannot be done from the flesh. When Jesus rebuked the disciples for failing to pray in Gethsemane with him he explained, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Mk 14:38) Oh how our flesh opposes everything good (Rom 7:5; Gal 5:16-17). Prayer is not carried out by the old man in Adam but the new man in Christ (1 Cor 15:45-49; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:20-24). It is part of the resurrected life we now have in Christ (Rom 6:1-14; Eph 2:1-7). And since we live still with the flesh’s corrupt desires (Gal 5:16; 1 Pet 2:11), prayer requires discipline and dedication.
The work of prayer also requires a perspective that it is so important we will make it a priority for our day (1 Sam 12:23; Eph 6:18; 1 Thess 5:17). We have to plan it in our day and protect that time from intrusions. I remember a story of a godly pastor in China who was to meet visiting Christian leaders from the West. They arrived for the meeting and this man of God kept them waiting almost an hour as he was in deep intercession with the Lord. If we are of the mind that nothing comes before God then everything else will be made second place behind our time with Him. How often do we make God second place? Should he ever be second to anything? No, we need to be Mary and put being with Jesus ahead of other duties. (Won’t the Lord work those out for us if we work out time with Him? Yes!)
Watch out too for worldly obsessions as they will make us spiritually lazy. Anger is another enemy to the work of prayer. Constantly indulging sin is another diversion zapping any motivation to pray. Prideful self-reliance will keep us from prayer.
I guess to sum it up we can’t rely on feelings to get us around to praying. We have to decide to pray. EFC: let us decide to pray, prioritize time to pray, and not put second what is first: prayer. Husbands pray with your wives. Parents pray with your children. Grandparents pray for your grandchildren. Pastor pray for your church. Church pray for your pastor. Brothers and sisters pray with each other!
WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU SPENT TIME JUST CONFESSING TO THE LORD?
Link to sermon “The Blessing Of Confessing”
IT IS SCARY TO PRAY WITH OTHERS!
It sure can be! Here are a couple things to keep in mind. First, at prayer meetings you don’t have to pray out loud. You can silently listen and take in all the prayers around you. I’ve done this many times and my spirit has been blessed. Second, don’t worry about what others might think. Prayer is not about impressing others with our words. The best prayers are the ones that are from our heart to God’s and full of faith. For that you don’t need a bunch of spiritual sounding words – or a bunch of words for that matter! Those are wonderful but without faith they are not wonderful. Third, there is not a more supportive and encouraging group for someone to pray with than ours. The love and warmth of our group is unmatched. Fourthly, there is great diversity in how people pray in the group. You don’t have to worry about being “like” the others. Some are joyful, others weep; some are longer, others are short; some have a rich vocabulary, others are very direct; some project their voices well, others have soft voices; some praise; others plead; some pray several times, others don’t pray at all. The diversity means there’s no pressure to be like someone else. Fifthly, prayer group is a great place to learn how to pray. Recently we’ve started to pick a Psalm to use as a guide for our prayers which helps develop our vocabulary and the things we ought to pray for. Also, I’ve personally learned from listening to the others in the group. My language has become richer as I’ve heard experienced prayer warriors who know how to flesh out a request or praise. Yet, from the less experienced prayer warriors I’ve learned that a rich faith comes through in simple and direct words to God. Sixth, come to Wednesday nights to build a deeper bond with other believers. Praying strengthens the cords of unity and affection.
“God bless everyone everywhere.” Sounds kind of funny, and while we joke about people praying that way we’ve all probably felt like we didn’t know what to say at one time or another. As a habit of praying, however, it isn’t really asking God anything. When we ask God we need to be specific, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked a blind man (Mk 10:51). Jesus was forcing the man to be exact. And the guy was: “Rabbi, I want to see.” If we never really see specific ways God is working in our lives it may be because our asking isn’t specific, “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2). Think about it, Jesus did say quite specifically, “if you tell this mulberry tree…” (Lk 17:6). Being specific also prevents “babbling like pagans” (Mt. 6:7) as we not only have a point in coming to the Lord but we actually get to it. One way to learn persistence is to know precisely why you’re coming to God – like the widow in Luke 18:3 “who kept coming to him with the plea…” So, how would you answer our Lord when he asks you, “What do you want me to do for you?”
HOW TO PRAY CONTINUALLY
What does that even mean? Does it mean I neglect everything and stay in prayer 24/7? Ha! Of course not. When the Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) he meant a life that was full of praying often to God. He said something similarly in Ephesians 6:18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all inds of prayers and requests. With this in mind be alert and always keep on praying…” A good way to start is to “always keep on” attending Wednesday night prayer. Also, keep the pattern you set up for yourself at home, whether in the morning, at lunch, or at night ….or whatever habit you decide.
A new practice I just started is “micro-prayers.” Micro-prayers are super-short prayers (less than 60 seconds) that are hyper-specific (Nehemiah 2:4). Before walking out the door, before getting out of your car, before making that call, before ending your break at work, take 60 seconds and pray.
- Be specific in your praise (use Psalms or choose an attribute and use the bible verses that touch on that attribute).
- Be specific in your requests too: “God teach me to be patient with my overly-negative co-worker…” or “Lord you are All-Wise and always know the best and right way. You promise to give wisdom to those who ask so please give me wisdom for this moment I’m in…”
Some benefits of micro prayers are they are less daunting then full-blown prayer sessions that are easily put off. Also, by sprinkling them throughout the day they help you to keep on “looking up” (Col 3:1-3). They also get your heart and mind into the pattern of praying and making it a stronger reflex – which is important for Christian maturing. So this is a learned mindset where you’re forcing yourself to stop often throughout the day to bring things in the moment to God.
Or it may not be something in that moment but something on your prayer list for the day (see Using A Prayer List) and you’re picking your way through it throughout the day. For example, perhaps in the morning you are reading Psalm 40 and use the first verses to praise God for hearing your prayers and for setting your feet on a solid rock and for putting a song in your mouth to praise Him. Then a few hours later before doing a chore or you have a “down” moment at work you micro-pray for your own growth in a certain area. It could be anything, but as an example lets take envy: “Lord, teach me to be content with what you’ve given me and to stop looking at what others have that I don’t. Teach me to see you as my all in all, and that in you I am missing nothing but rather I have “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:3). I want to be free of all this self-inflicted frustration of lusting for everything. I confess my sinful attitude. Wash me and renew a content and right spirit within me.”
Another habit is instead of telling someone you will pray for them, take that moment and pray for them right then and there. Then commit to praying for them afterwards.
So I will be praying for you to begin praying without ceasing today! Actually, let me take a moment right now and pray for you….
PRAYER TIP: PRAY FOR PEACE
Not world peace, but inward peace. The entrance into that inner peace so many of us are after is prayer.”Heavenly Father, the cares of this world weigh heavy (Mt 11:28; 13:22) and many are the troubles that come (Jn 16:33). I am tempted to surrender my peace to the waves of life’s storms (Mt 14:30) and the shadows of life’s Goliaths (1 Sam. 17). But you tell me to ‘cast all my anxieties on You because You care for me’ (1 Pet 5:7). Right now I confess my chronic, ruling anxiety is because I forget that you care for me. I know you see me and care for me, and that you know what I’m feeling. This prayer is me turning to you in faith and ‘casting my anxieties on you.’ Right now I remember that you told me not to be anxious about anything, and to pray and petition you in every situation, and make my requests to you with a thankful heart (Php 4:6). So now Lord, I am doing that, and I ask that you in your faithfulness would give me the peace that passes understanding so that my heart and mind will be guarded in Christ Jesus.’ I give you my worries. Please give me your peace (Php 4:7; Jn 16:33) I pray this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.”The response to anxiety that both Paul and Peter gives is prayer. We may not alway see God change our situation but we can always see Him change us in our situation. Prayer is the key. And remember to notice the totality of these two verses: “cast ALL your anxieties” and “in EVERY situation.” Whether it nibbles or devours your peace it is to be prayerfully cast on the Lord.Come tonight and cast your burdens on the Lord at prayer.
WHAT WIVES SHOULD DO WHEN THEY’RE FRUSTRATED WITH THEIR HUSBANDS FOR NOT LEADING SPIRITUALLY AT HOME
It can be a frustrating situation for a wife who wants her husband to take his leadership role more seriously. What should she do? Pray! And keep on praying! She should be careful that she doesn’t spend more time talking to him and others about his shortcomings than to God. (Usually the more she prays the less she talks to him and the more she talks to him the less she prays). Perhaps most importantly prayer helps a wife struggling this way to stop competing with God: she will stop thinking she must change her husband and instead trust God is in control of him. This will lead to more peace in her situation (Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7) and therefore a more peaceful home (Proverbs 21:9, 19; James 4:1-3).
When she prays, it will help her keep her focus on God’s faithfulness to her rather than hyper-focusing on her husband’s shortcomings. One of the problems that can come is pride. Pride comes from looking down on her husband for all his faults – real and perceived. Here she needs to heed the Lord’s words about the “speck in [her husband’s] eye… so she does not become blind to the areas in her own life the Lord wants to grow her in. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we’re good because we think we’re better than someone else – and it can happen between spouses too. So prayer helps her stay humble while looking up to God and not down on her husband…this kind of humility will also help her “let” God work His plans at His own pace with her husband rather than holding him to her expectations. Prayer will help her love him the way 1 Corinthians 13 says she should (the one probably read at their wedding!):
“LOVE IS patient [to her husband], love is kind [to her husband]. It does not envy, it does not boast [of being better than him], it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor [her husband], it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs ….7 [Love] always protects [his dignity and honor] always trusts [God is in control], always hopes, always perseveres.”
If your husband is not taking his faith seriously or he does not have faith at all then commit yourself to praying. Praying is how a you go through that difficult season experiencing a spirit of grace, humility, peace, love, faith, and maturity. Otherwise, without prayer, it is easy to become prideful, self-pitying, controlling, bitter and judgmental. God and only God can change him. Don’t wear your husband out. Instead, wear God out in prayer for him.
Heavenly Father, I commit my husband into your hands. Teach me to let go and stop trying to control him or make him what I want him to be. You are reminding me again that your ways are perfect, so I trust you to do your work in your time. Grant me deeper peace in you, and a greater sense that you are my rock and shelter. Show me how to pray and not be critical of him; teach me to love him through kindness, humility, patience, not keeping a record of wrongs, and not dishonoring him. By your grace help me to “win him over” without words as I live a godly life in our home. Lead me to humbly see what you’re doing in my own heart through this season and how you are sanctifying me in the middle of this. I pray for my husband too, Lord. Draw him to you, open his eyes to see you better, lead him to love you first in his life. Glorify yourself in my life, and in my husband’s. In Jesus’ name. Amen.