Taking Notes from the Prayers of Paul
PAUL'S PRAYERS Have you ever heard the old saying, “I feel like my prayers are hitting the ceiling!”? You might have even spoken those very words yourself, or at least some combination of them. If you
Have you ever heard the old saying, “I feel like my prayers are hitting the ceiling!”? You might have even spoken those very words yourself, or at least some combination of them. If you haven’t, you might be wondering what they mean. Well, in a nutshell, it just means that you feel like your prayers aren’t making it very far at all. Like they hit the ceiling and then fall right back down again, without ever making contact with the ears of the One we mean them for in the first place.
The fact is, whether we’ve uttered those words before or not, we’ve all felt that way. It’s almost like closing our eyes and trying to play darts sometimes. We can hope the dart – our words – stick, as a bulls eye hopefully, but sometimes it just seems like a hit or miss situation.
When you take a look at the prayers Paul prayed, it’s easy to see the power of his words. It’s interesting to see the way he prayed and who he prayed for, but more interesting still, to see the way he came before God with these petitions. Let’s take a look at some of them right now.
He Prayed and Thanked God for Others
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” Romans 1:8-10
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in your will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3-6
Praying for others was such a dynamic part of Paul’s ministry, because he knew that it was important, not only for the ones he was praying for, but for himself as well. Jesus Himself said that all the laws of the prophets hung on two commandments: that you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).
If you really stop to think about what it means to love your neighbor as yourself, you might understand the weight that it carries. We might not always honestly admit how much we love ourselves, but if you have a need, you’ll do just about anything to fulfill it, especially if it’s life altering. For instance, if you’re hungry, you will search for food. If you’re thirsty, you will find something to drink. If you become ill, you’ll seek out a doctor’s aid without giving it much thought at all. And if you have a dire need that nothing on earth can seem to help with, you will seek God “with your heart, soul and mind”.
Loving others should carry that same weight. It really isn’t a different kind of love, in God’s eyes. It is that same love that should emanate from ourselves, right over to those we are praying for. Another way to look at it is to consider that we should pray for others with the same fervency with which we pray for our own children.
He Prayed That Others Would Be Saved
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Romans 10:1
“Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:33
Paul knew how important salvation was to Jesus. It’s what He preached and it’s what He came and died for, to be that once and for all sacrifice that meant we no longer needed to blood of animals to cover our sins. Jesus death and resurrection meant that we would be able to access God ourselves, and find salvation for our own selves and our households as well.
Praying for the salvation of Israel meant a great deal to Paul as well, because it was his home and where he had had his own conversion. Since it was the Jews who had called the loudest for the crucifixion and death of Jesus, it was imperative to him that they finally come to a saving grace from God.
He Prayed for the Glorification of God’s Name
“To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:13
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4”6-7
Knowing whom you’re praying to can effectually change everything. God is due all the glory and honor we can ascribe to Him and His Name, not only when we pray to Him, but even when we speak of Him. As we glorify God, He will in turn honor our prayers just as He did for Paul.
He Prayed for Encouragement
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” Colossians 1:9-14
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” 1 Corinthians 16:23
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13
Encouragement is so important in the life of the believer, and Paul knew it. Often, you could find him encouraging the saints throughout his journeys, in person, and in letters that he sent to those he had preached the gospel to. But he also prayed for that same encouragement to be sent to those saints, especially those who were in the greatest need of it.
In those days, the gospel wasn’t nearly as accepted as it is today. In fact, Paul and those who traveled with him were often subjected to death threats, beatings and thrashings and jail time. If anyone knew what encouragement meant, especially in dire, horrific times, it was indeed Paul. Because of his own dark times, encouragement was a great portion of his ministry and his prayer time. As it should be for us, as well.
Even today, in some countries, Christians are still subjected to horrific circumstances if they dare to believe the Gospel and accept salvation. Although not as violent, even in America, this is becoming the case, more and more often. So it is very important that we, too, continue to pray for the encouragement of our brothers and sisters, at home and around the world.
He Prayed For Continuous Prayer Lives
“And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:19-20
“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” Romans 15:30-33
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds; That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:2-4
Paul believed in prayer at all times. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, he even said, “Pray without ceasing.” It doesn’t get more continuous than that, does it? Again, in 2 Timothy 1:3, Paul said, “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;”. It was very important to him, as we’ve seen already, that he pray for others, but more than that, that he pray on an ongoing and constant basis.
Imagine, if we simply started changing our prayer life in this arena alone. How much different do you think it might be if we consciously made an effort to lift up our family, friends and neighbors on a regular basis?
He Prayed With Praise
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Acts 16:25
There’s something about praising God that is simply contagious. As the Spirit comes into prayer and worship that is filled with praise, those around you just can’t help but feel it as well. But more so than that, when you are in a hard place and can still pray with praise, those around you take note of something else.
They not only see God as someone who hears and answers prayer, but someone who comforts as well. Many people, when going through tough circumstances, can’t get to a point of praise. However, if they could just press through, they might see that it is in that simple effort that God hears, comforts and answers prayer.
He Prayed With Thanksgiving
“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge, Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Most people think of praying as a means to an end. In other words, praying to get something in return. We pray either for ourselves, or for someone else, for a specific need, asking God to move in some way or another.
When we begin to pray with thanksgiving for the things God has already done, we usher in the Spirit with adoration, knowing that He is completely capable, because He’s done it before. Not only does this give us the ability to “stir up the inner man”, but it also puts the devil on notice that we know to whom it is we pray.
Thanksgiving, especially in prayer, should never be overlooked, if possible. You might just begin to notice mighty changes in your prayer life as you include this aspect of Paul’s own prayer life into yours.
He Prayed For Holiness
“Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.” 2 Corinthians 13:7-9
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11
Holiness is something we should all pray for, and strive for every day. Not just for ourselves, but when praying for others as well, just as Paul did. In today’s world, it is often seen as a “holier than thou” stance that we take, as if to say that those we pray for aren’t already holy enough. The truth, in fact, is that none of us are holy enough and can use every bit of prayer anyone would care to offer our way.
He Prayed For Grace
“…Grace be with you all. Amen.” Titus 3:15
“The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:22
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” 1 Thessalonians 5:28
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Philippians 4:23
“Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” Galatians 6:18
Paul rarely closed out a greeting or an epistle without praying God’s grace on those receiving his word. As the song says, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.” God’s grace is an amazing thing, and it is certainly something we should pray towards other people as often as possible.
So what is grace, exactly? Well, it has been explained this way: Mercy is when we DON’T receive what we DO deserve, and grace is when we DO receive what we DON’T deserve. It really is just as simple as that.
He Prayed For Protection
“And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:2-5
Praying for God’s protection is something that His people have done since they’ve known Him. Whether it was Abraham, Moses, Daniel, David or all the many others that followed, protection is something that is promised to believers. When we pray, we must never forget to pray for the protection, safety and spiritual strength of those we love.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!