How shall we pray?

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So often, we come to our God in prayer, not knowing that for which to pray.  Paul the apostle knew this to be true.  He wrote in Romans 8, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for….”  There is no harm or shame in not knowing how to pray in a specific situation, for how can we know what is eternally best, what is to us the seemingly mysterious will of our God?

Unfortunately, so much of the time we resort to what it is we want to see happen in the situation, with no understanding of the will of God.  As discussed in a previous post, The Lord helps us in our praying by the prayers of His Holy Spirit in us.  “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26 – 27).

Yet the Lord in His wisdom has given us additional help in discerning how to pray in a wide variety of situations.  He has given us numerous prayers in the Bible, prayers that I believe are there to show us the mind of the Lord for our praying.  How do we pray for ourselves, our loved ones, and others?  What is foremost in the mind of God concerning the people for whom we are praying?  We can read the prayers of the Bible and discern much about God’s will and our praying.

Praying the Scriptures for self and others has been a boon to my personal prayer life.  Indeed, there is hardly a day that passes in which I do not pray according to prayers in the scriptures over people and situations.  The Psalms are filled with such prayers. Several prayers of Jesus are recorded in the Gospels that can guide us in our praying.  Paul recorded several prayers for the churches, two in Ephesians and one in Colossians. 

These prayers can be most useful, for they reveal the will of our God for each of us and for those for whom we pray.  Below are a few of the prayers I use often as guides in my daily praying.  I hope you, too, will find them useful in praying according to the will of our God.

Ephesians 1:17-19  “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of our God’s calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”

Ephesians 3:14-19  “For this reason, I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Colossians 1:9-12  “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.”

Psalm 16:8-11  “I will set the Lord continually before me.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Psalm 86:11, 15  “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.  But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.  Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.  Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.”

Psalm 139:23-24  “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.”

Prayers of worship from the Scriptures

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6)

“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”  (Revelation 4)

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!  To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”  (Revelation 5)

“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”  (Revelation 7)

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