Praying Purposefully

Who taught you how to pray? Are you sure you are praying biblically? Prayer has to be one of the hardest spiritual disciplines to maintain. It’s so easy to lapse into vague generalities and not fortify this weapon of our faith with truth.

The Apostle Paul’s prayer life was extensive. Read through the epistles and track the number of churches for whom he intercedes.  His circle of influence was huge and the core commitments of his ministry, like the other apostles (in Acts 6) were prayer and the ministry of the word.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:2,3, he prays for this fledgling church left to struggle in a hostile community after his own departure.

“We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspirited by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In just two sentences Paul has embedded some clear instructions on prayer.  Let’s summarize them.

  1. Pray thankfully. Gratitude should be something that permeates our praise and petition.  ‘Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, the psalmist exhorts us.’ The attitude of gratitude makes a huge difference in our whole demeanor.  Why not list 5 things for which you are grateful and then begin your prayer time by thanking God.
  2. Pray specifically. Paul mentioned the Thessalonians by name in his praying.  Build your prayer list with specific names of specific people for whom you are concerned.  I visit many churches and see daily ‘people’ who are being prayed for by the congregation. 
  3. Pray continually. He will later exhort this church to ‘pray without ceasing.’ Find fresh ways to keep praying.  Change your place, your posture, your praxis of prayer.  Why not plead with Christ, as the disciples did when they cried, “Lord, teach us to pray!”

What did Paul call to mind as he prayed? Their a) work; b) labor; c) endurance.   He links these virtues to the triad of Christian virtues which permeate his writings, namely–faith, hope and love.

Their faith had been active producing work–specific ministry activities within their community.

Their labor had been prompted by love–God’s love which had changed them was planted in their hearts and prompting them with godly motivation.

Their endurance had been inspired by hope–They hadn’t been Christians that long, but they hadn’t quit.  Too many believers ‘pack it in’ on their faith and ministry. They don’t ‘stick-to-it’ but collapse in faithlessness when the slightest difficulty arises.  Hope inspires endurance.

So what needs to change in our prayer lives?  Do we need more gratitude, more specific requests, more continuation in this discipline.  Let’s allow God, by His Spirit to stir us to a deeper devotion to Jesus Christ throughout 2017.  If you have any recommendation

If you have any recommendations from what God has taught you, please let me know.  My brother-in-law, Tim Kerr’s ‘Take Words With You’ is a useful tool.  Here’s the Amazon Link to “Take Words With You.”  I commend it to you if you want to learn to pray.

One thought on “Praying Purposefully”

  1. One of the most influential spiritual leaders in my life was Pastor John Boyd. One day he took me into his home study and shared with me a large chart that was his prayer chart. I was amazed at how much was on this chart. It was broken into 7 days.
    Many many years later I adopted the prayer chart to help me with staying on track and to help me to remember the many needs that are within my circle of contact. I divide it into 7 days. Some things are on their every day. Some are on their once a week. I use the general format of the Lord’s Prayer to start each day. I thank good for his goodness. I thank him for his son. I confess my sins. I remember our church leaders every day and name them. I pray for different pastors and missionaries each day. Sunday I always prayer for our local church body and the upcoming time we will spend in worship and the word. One day a week I pray for our political leaders etc etc etc. It just helps me focus. I use a word document so that I can keep my prayer chart as a living document. I print it and then make many pen entries for emergent prayer requests.
    Just a thought.
    Many many

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