What I’ve Been Praying For Lately

For me, prayer has always been one of the most difficult Christian practices. I know it shouldn’t be that way. And yes I’m a pastor so I can reel off a list of biblical, theological, and practical explanations to why and how I should pray. But none of that makes prayer easy for me. Talking about prayer is easy. It’s the actual praying that’s hard.

One of the things that has helped me is that over the years I’ve developed the habit of looking for prayer “guides.” These “guides” are passages of Scripture or prayer books that help focus my mind and heart on God, the gospel, and the right kind of requests. They help keep my prayers balanced, biblical, and God centered rather devolving into a laundry list of only my personal needs.

Two of my favorites are the Handbook To Prayer: Praying Scripture Back to God and The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. Both are available in the church’s bookstore.

But lately I’ve been using the apostle Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-14 as my guide to pray for myself, my family, our church, and other people that I know. It starts this way:

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.”

I don’t think that “not stopped praying for you” means that Paul has taken the life of a monk who literally does almost nothing but pray. Instead I think that Paul is saying that he has regular set times that he intercedes with God on their behalf. He isn’t trying to work prayer into his schedule. No, he’s set aside times to pray and everything else on his “to do list” will have to fit in.

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

This is the one thing that Paul asks God for in this prayer. He continually, repeatedly, and often asks God to fill these people with the knowledge of his will. Paul is NOT asking God to give them clues about who they should marry, which job they should take, or whether they should make a major purchase. Paul’s prayer about God’s will is more like David’s prayer “Teach me to do your will” (Psalm 143:10). In the Bible God’s will is not something in our future that we are trying to figure out but something that has already been revealed in the Scripture.

The means that God fills people with the knowledge of his will is “through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Spiritual wisdom and understanding are neither natural nor automatic which of course is why we should follow Paul’s model and continually pray that God would give them to us and others. It is not natural to see that God is in control over all things. It is not natural to believe that the promises of God are far more satisfying than the pleasures of this world. It is not natural to believe that we will be far happier if we store up treasures in heaven rather than on Earth. By definition spiritual truth is unnatural (see 1 Corinthians 2:6-14) and so we pray that God would give us eyes and ears and hearts that see, hear, and believe Truth.

So that’s been my prayer as of late. “God, please give me, my family, this church eyes, ears, hearts that see, hear, and believe the truth so that we will want to do your will in every area of life.”

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way…”

The reason that Paul prays for them to know and do the will of God is so that they will lives lives that are fully pleasing to God. As you pray this for yourself or another person stop and think through each area of life and ask God to make that area pleasing to him. God, I ask that my conversations would be fully pleasing to you. God, I ask that how I spend my money would be fully pleasing to you. God I ask that I would please you in how I talk to my wife, kids, co-workers, etc….

This is plenty to chew on for today. Hopefully I’ll finish walking through the prayer in a post next Thursday. But one last thing: Praying portions of Scripture is much, much, much more motivating to me than just asking that God would “bless” someone or give them good health. When I pray through the Bible, I have the confidence that I’m praying about things that God cares about.

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