I’ve spent the last eleven weeks sharing in this blog how our traditional prayers and prayer lists have grown very far from Christ’s instruction on praying and how we can set that right. This week in Lesson #11 of the Always Praying audio series, Pastor Wilson finally allows us to pick up our pens and make a Biblically solid prayer list that God actually approves of. Not only does God approve of it, He gives explicit instructions on crafting it; just like He did with Noah’s Ark, or The Tabernacle. Bringing glory to God in prayer is no less an important construction project.
In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us a specific, yet simple, template that we are supposed to start with (The Lord’s Prayer) and specifically what we are not supposed to say. There is no prayer issue that cannot be rightly addressed with Jesus’ approved format as long as a believer lines up with God’s will. You’ll find prayer examples about death, illness, needs and sins, in my Always Worshiping blog post.
Just as with The Tabernacle construction, God separated areas for the priests and the worshipers for their protection and provision. Prayer is no different. Praying for a believer focuses on perseverance through suffering. Praying for a non-believer should be restricted to their most dire need: salvation.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, Godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Timothy’s instructions almost sound redundant but when we take the time to break them down we see intentional hard work being requested from us.
- Supplications – We are supposed to mentally and verbally acknowledge the ‘lack’ or ‘need’ that exists for the person. If it’s a believer that we are praying for, the need may be endurance during a particular trial. If we are praying for an unbeliever, we should care enough to pray for their most pressing need; we should not waste time and breath praying for the relief of superficial or temporary physical needs because we know God doesn’t promise such for unbelievers, and these may be the very means He is using to bring them to recognize their need for a Savior.
“We should pray bodly for anything God has promised to give us. We should also pray boldly for anything that is only in His power to give us – SALVATION! “ Pastor Steve Wilson
- Prayers – We are supposed to turn the knowledge of those needs heavenward toward God in prayer. Not a human or problem-centered prayer; a God-centered prayer that Jesus already taught.
- Intercessions – To intercede requires intimate knowledge of a person and a sensitivity for what they are going through. You can’t effectively and powerfully pray for the lost if you don’t know them and grieve for them. Otherwise your prayers are superficial and generic; very unlike Jesus and the apostles’ example of prayer for us. Jesus knew (knows) His own intimately. The apostles traveled and stayed in constant communication with growing Christian communities/families (body of Christ). Prayer for people we don’t know is simply not intercession based on supplication as designed by God.
- Thanksgiving – This is by far the hardest aspect of effective prayer. We ourselves have to be submitted to the will of God and be thankful for that in our lives and the lives of those we are praying for. That means knowing that all who are born into this world are fallen, hopeless and destined to live out a life of utter depravity unless God draws them to Himself; awakens their hearts and grants them complete clemency from damnation. God may leave some in this state. He may save some by crushing them at times to bring them to awareness of their sin and need for Him. We have to be okay with however it plays out and give thanks. People may hate us and we have to be okay with that too. Our sincere, intimate knowledge and love for the lost will conquer our fears and make us fit for this Great Commission*.
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17)
Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13). If this is true of love for those we know intimately, how much easier would it be to lay down (lose) just our relationships for their sake?
A Godly Prayer List:
- A Mother struggling financially – Father, help her praise Your name despite her financial difficulties.
- A Sister suffering a painful malady – Father, give her strength to do Your will each day despite her arthritis pain
- A Pastor preparing to preach – Lord, speak Your Word through him to advance Your kingdom
- A Brother whose affair has destroyed his marriage – Father, draw him to Yourself while recovering from his painful divorce and lead him back to church so that he can hear Your powerful word again; even if he is crushed by You for his adultery. Let the pain and guilt of his sin be the beginning of a new forgiven life in You.
- An Unbelieving Neighbor – God, help me to give a good example of You when we interact. And give me occasion to invite her to church no matter what her response may be and the consequences to our relationship.
- An Unbelieving Homosexual Co-worker – Lord, give me a constant desire to pray for his salvation. Open his heart to Your word, Your love and Your promises so he can be freed from this enslavement to his sinful flesh. You delivered me from the bondage of sin and I know you can do the same for anyone who trusts in You.
Next week in Lesson #12 of the Always Praying series, Pastor Wilson discusses Private and Personal Prayers. Feel free to listen ahead and join me back here at Views from the Pew, for a condensed version.
I encourage anyone who hasn’t listened to the Always Praying audio series from Pastor Steve Wilson of Grace Community Church in Bowling Green, to go back and be immersed in the foundational theology of prayer. Each lesson has an accompanying blog post summarization found in Views from the Pew which began April 13, 2017.