How’s your prayer life? People ask that a lot, I know. But for real, how’s your prayer life? Are you talking to God as often as you send Snaps? Do you take as much time out of your day to pray as you do to binge The Office (just one more time before it’s off Netflix)?
OK, yeah, we should all be praying more. But that’s not really what I want to talk with you about. Instead of discussing the size of your prayer life, let’s chat about the content. How are you praying? What are you praying for? Because the Bible has a lot to say about the subject.
I’m sure you know the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus says:
“Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)
That’s the perfect template to start from. But it’s not the ONLY way to pray. You can also pray specifically. You can definitely pray continuously, as you go throughout your day. And I would also encourage you to pray Scripturally. Learn what the Bible says and repeat it back to God in prayer.
Another great example of how to pray can be found in the book of Acts. Acts tells the story of the formation of the early Church. It starts with Jesus giving final instructions to the Apostles, then ascending to Heaven. After that, it’s up to the regular people, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to share the good news, make disciples and grow the church in every town they can.
It was rough in the beginning. Actually, the whole book is rough. Early Christians never had it easy. But the first time we see anyone taken into custody for speaking about Jesus is in chapter 4. Peter and John, two of Jesus’s closest disciples, just healed a man who was crippled since birth. He was begging outside the temple, Peter and John came across him, and Peter healed him on the spot, then turned around and started preaching to everyone who was there.
Since he was right outside the temple, the religious leaders heard the commotion, saw the man they knew should have been laying by the fountain outside instead running and jumping like a crazy person, and were concerned. They took Peter and John and locked them up for the night until they could decide what to do with them.
Fast forward a day, the religious leaders meet and question the two for a while until they realize there’s nothing they can really do to them at this point without looking like fools and losing all their power. So they threaten them, tell them to stop talking about Jesus and send them on their way. Kind of like when your parent used to tell you to stop making that annoying noise or else! You knew they weren’t really going to hurt you, but they really wanted you to stop.
Peter and John left and went to meet up with the rest of the disciples. They told them what happened and all of the disciples immediately started praying.
Let’s pause for a sec, because if it was me (and I’m betting if it was you too), my prayer would have gone something like this: God, please protect us from these evil men who want to harm us. Please keep us safe and free from injury. I may have even said something like: God can you give us an easier way to make disciples that isn’t so risky? Can you take all of the obstacles out of our path so we can be successful in our disciple-making?
Does that sound like a prayer you might pray?
Here’s what the disciples prayed.
“For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your will had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness.” Acts 4:27-29
Here’s what they said. We know that there are people in our city who killed Jesus and probably want to kill us too. They definitely want us to stop talking about him and will do whatever they can in their power to stop us (and they have a LOT of power). So with that in mind, please give us more boldness, more courage to continue to do what you’ve called us to do.
The disciples knew they were going to face all of the opposition and, instead of asking for things to be easier, instead of praying selfishly, they asked for MORE boldness so they could reach more people for Christ! That’s so far from our typical, comfortable, safe prayers, isn’t it? But it’s exactly what Jesus commanded. He told the disciples to go into the world, teach everyone about Him, make disciples and baptize them (Matthew 28:19). If they were going to be successful doing that, they needed the help of God. They needed boldness.
And God provided by filling them with the Holy Spirit so they could continue to share the gospel, regardless of the consequences.
Let me ask you again, how are you praying?
by Rob Trahan