Some Prayer List Hints - The Apostolic Prayers
When I began to pray as a young Christian, I was very fortunate because some of the pastors who taught our congregation were quite experienced in prayer. They taught the congregation to "pray the apostolic prayers". These men and women said to use the prayers of the bible to learn the language of prayer and to learn how to express yourself to God. This was a very helpful lesson that I hope you learn to put into practice as well.
So here goes:
Two of the greatest prayers of the bible are in the book of Ephesians.
Ephesians 1:15-23 says:
15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 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. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Consider the rich language of these prayers. Using such language, we might pray something like this:
"Lord, I pray that You might give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation that I might know you better". Or "Lord, I prayer that You might give my friend (or my child) a spirit of wisdom and revelation that they might know you better".
Paul prays that "the eyes of our heart would be enlightened so that we know the riches of the Glory of HIS inheritance in the saints" What does this mean? It must mean what it says. It means that Paul wants the church to see that God's greatest gift to Himself, for His glory, is us, the church. WOW that raises our expectations for our life under grace and that is exactly Paul's point. So he goes on and prays that we would start to realize the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Paul is praying for the young church that they would see the Gospel as an arrow downward from God to us.
Getting this language deep into our minds and hearts changes our view of the Gospel and changes our expectations. We start to look up to God for the grace to live a life of stunning moral beauty.
But wait there's more
In Ephesians 3, Paul breaks forth into prayer again.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
WOW. Did I mention that the gospel is an arrow downward?
Consider these prayers.
Paul prays that we be strengthened with power in our inner man so that Christ may dwell in our hearts. He prays for us to be rooted and grounded in love and to have deep understanding. He prays for the church to know the love of Christ and to be filled with all the fullness of God. Then, Paul ends his prayer with this grand statement that God is able to do exceedingly more than we can ask for or even imagine to ask for.
Contemplating these passages changes the orientation of our person in prayer. Let me show you what I mean from the book of Romans.
There is a passage in Romans that is one of my favorites. In chapter 8, Paul says "the eyes set on the flesh is death, but the eyes set on the Spirit is life and peace". Paul is saying that when we look to become righteous in our own strength, religion becomes a big burden and a guilt trip, BUT, when our eyes look up and see the source of our life as a free gift from God and we become poor in spirit, then we begin to live a life of vigor and strength and joy and peace. The Gospel becomes in our experience an arrow downward.
When we begin to live in this posture with our eyes focused on God, then we are wise. When the orientation of our person is one of faith in God's power through the Gospel, we are wise men and women. We begin to grow in our Spirituality. We become skilled in prayer and we begin growing in grace. Our life begins to be transformed by the power that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
So I encourage you, get these and other bible prayers deep in your mind and heart. Put these on your list. Find a way to make these scriptures the language of your prayers for character or Christlikeness or a heart of worship. Mix this language into your worship and devotion, and then we will learn again as a church how to pray rightly.