More than once I have heard Christians say that they can't pray long until they feel like they have run out of things to pray. They don't know what else to pray about. Certainly, learning experientially to pray is a process and takes the aid and help of the Holy Spirit. One must be taught of God to really pray.
But there are great helps in the Bible about what to pray for and what to ask. Paul's prayers are a great example for us in that regard. Paul, from the very beginning of his conversion, was praying. Luke, in the book of Acts, says of Paul, "Behold, he prays."
In Colossians 1, we see an example of what he prayed specifically for the Colossian Christians. No doubt, he prayed these specific requests for himself regularly, as well as praying the same for the churches he loved and nurtured.
When you examine Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:12, you are being allowed into Paul's prayer closet, seeing what God put in his heart to pray. What did Paul pray for others? What kind of things did Paul ask for in prayer?
1. "that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" - vs. 9
2. "to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him" - vs. 10
3. "bearing fruit in every good work" - vs. 10
4. "increasing in the knowledge of God" - vs. 11
5. "may you be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might" - vs. 11
6. "all endurance and patience with joy" - vs. 11
Paul's praying was not-- "Lord, bless the Corinthians; meet their needs; lead them, guide them, help them, encourage them" -- there is nothing wrong with praying that way for others, when your heart is serious and clear about what those things mean. But we get in a rut in prayer with our words, saying the same things often over and over again, without really being fresh and in tune with the Lord.
I remember the first year after my conversion, there were 2 men in our church who always led morning prayer and evening prayer in church before the offering plate was passed. They both always parroted the same prayer week after week--
"Lord, we thank You for thy blessings; we pray that You would bless the gift and the giver; forgive all our sins-- lead, guide and direct us, in Your name we pray-amen."
Now these were nice men who seemed sincere. But it became obvious that they did not have a clue about the reality of prayer and what it meant to lay hold on God and plead His promises.
When you look at that content in Paul's praying, it is amazing what he prayed for. Do we pray that way for ourselves and for others regularly?
- I want to be filled with the knowledge of your will
- I want to grow in spiritual understanding and wisdom
- I would have a worthy walk
- Strengthen me with all power
- Let me increase in truly knowing You
- Make me fruitful in every work
- Cause me to have real endurance and patience and lasting joy
Let's get meatier in our praying; increasingly pray the Word, pray the Psalms, and the prayers of the saints found in the Scriptures, and Paul's prayers found in his epistles. We ought never to read Paul's letters without praying those prayers for ourselves and the saints we walk with.
When we do, we are praying the perfect mind and will of God. We are praying for the greatest possible reality and we are growing in our understanding and capacity in relation to pray.
Lord, teach us to pray, as you did Paul.
- Mack Tomlinson