The Prayers We Should Pray
Ephesians 1:17 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Matthew 7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Romans 12:12 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Colossians 4:2 2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Ephesians 6:18 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
I always believed this season of ministry would unfold just as it has. When we moved here, now over ten-and-a-half years ago, by faith, I saw a thriving congregation. I could picture healing and wellness support groups. I envisioned a vibrant and passionate group of people who enjoyed worship and faithfully and enthusiastically served their community. I saw the building of a new building. AND I saw the provision of resources by God for this ministry through the faithfulness of God’s people. I also saw a gift of a million dollars for the new building. I didn’t see a timeline for the million-dollar gift, but I know God put it in my heart to pray for it.
At one point, I even felt led to go to someone and ask them for a million-dollar gift. This was about five years ago. I enlisted some extra prayer from Mandy, and she and I drove around the person’s neighborhood, around their house, seven times and prayed together that God would bless my asking. I then met with the person and asked for one million dollars. It didn’t happen, but I felt I had been faithful to do what God had placed on my heart.
I remember thinking during the capital campaign as we took pledges a year ago, “How cool would it be on pledge Sunday to walk into the service and announce that we had received the million-dollar gift?” It didn’t happen. As we anticipated the Groundbreaking this past May I thought, “How awesome would it be to reveal that we had received a gift of a million dollars at the Groundbreaking Ceremony?” It didn’t happen.
Now, I could conclude that after all of these years of praying and seeking and even asking someone for the money, since it hasn’t happened, that it isn’t going to-that God isn’t going to allow it, but to adopt that mindset would be to abandon the counsel of the Scriptures. I am to be patient and faithful in prayer. I am to devote myself to prayer. The encouragement to ask and seek and knock is written in the tense that would encourage us to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking. I am to stay watchful in prayer.
The Apostle Paul was always on the move. He never sat still, but as he moved about, he was faithful to stay in an attitude of prayer. His ministry was anchored in prayer. He wrote to the Church in Thessalonica, “Night and day we pray more earnestly that we may see you again” (1 Thessalonians 3:10). His heart was with the Thessalonians through the ministry of prayer. To the Church in Colosse he said, “We have not stopped praying for you….” (Colossians 1:9). We see his passion and persistence to pray. He knew if something supernatural was going to happen in the Colossian church, it would be a result of prayer. To the Church in Ephesus he prayed our verse of the month, “I keep asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ…. may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation” (Ephesians 1:17).
I don’t know what kind of prayer you are praying this morning. I don’t know what miracle you stand in need of. But I do know, we are the ones who must not give up. We are the ones who must not throw in the towel. We are the ones who must remain faithful to God, His promises and His promptings. We are the ones who must not quit asking and must not quit believing God can do the impossible. What if it is almost time for your miracle? What if right now help is being sent in answer of prayers you have prayed for years? This is not the time to abandon prayer. This is the time to ramp up every kind of prayer because as we do, we learn to stand in faith. As we do, we gain spiritual strength. Results will come.
You see, Prayer helps us live in a spirit of anticipation.
If we are always praying about something, then we always live in the moment of a possible miracle. Heaven and earth can collide at any moment, the power of God can be unleashed at any moment, as we live a life of devotion to God through prayer. Anything is possible, even right now. A miracle could occur in this service as a result of years of praying, months of praying, weeks of praying or as a result of the prayer you prayed last night. Could you get excited with me about the possibility that something out-of-this world, something heavenly, something beyond human belief, could take place as a result of even the prayers we have prayed and will pray today?
I want to live in a spirit of anticipation. I want to live with a sense that I have something to look forward to. What is the alternative? To live with a doom and gloom perspective? I’m not interested in living with an Eeyore mentality. You know, the grumpy, negative, no-fun character from Winnie the Pooh? I want to pray in faith in response to the commands of Scripture to pray, and I want to live in a spirit of anticipation as I patiently and joyfully wait for God to answer.
Since Scripture encourages us to pray all kinds of prayers, I want to explore some different kinds of prayers we might pray today and next week.
A Salvation Prayer-Jonah 2:2-9
Jonah prayed a salvation prayer when he needed physical help, but also when he needed spiritual salvation. He said, “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
Verse 5: The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.
“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
Those of us who have accepted Christ understand that He has brought rescue to us. His sacrifice on the cross once and for all has paid a ransom, paid the price that makes salvation available to all of us. A relationship with God, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and the Hope of Heaven, are ours in response to the prayer for salvation.
The prayer for salvation is a prayer we must pray in order to be in fellowship with God. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). “There is salvation in no one else but Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Jonah had actually been swallowed by a great fish and prayed this prayer from inside of the fish. I don’t know how long a person has once they are swallowed by a great fish before they would pass out or start to break down during digestion, but I am guessing, not long. I am guessing this prayer for salvation was a pretty immediate prayer from Jonah’s lips. This was a prayer of desperation. Seaweed was wrapped around his head which may sound like something out of the comics. I assure you there was nothing comical about it. Jonah was suffocating, and he knew he was in a bad way spiritually. To have his physical life end would mean spiritual death for eternity.
God saved him. God rescued him. God caused the fish to spew Jonah (I thought “spew” sounded better than vomit) God caused the fish to spew Jonah onto the dry ground, and Jonah had a heart change. That’s what salvation is; a heart change. Without it, we can’t know God in fullness and enjoy all heaven promises in eternity.
Perhaps some among us who aren’t saved haven’t yet been swallowed by something we can’t get out of. Maybe we haven’t yet understood our need for salvation. Maybe we aren’t aware we have been swallowed by sin. Maybe we don’t recognize we are in trouble. I can’t say how long anyone will have to make the decision to turn to Christ in any situation; I just know there is no salvation without Him, and some of us are closer to eternity than we could know. The salvation prayer is the foundation prayer for every facet of spiritual life.
A Daily Prayer-Matthew 6:9-13, The Lord’s Prayer
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
This prayer, for me, is kind of like a spiritual alignment prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is an Alignment Prayer. It sort of straightens us out. It is a daily reminder that we need to be centered on God, His will, His resources, and His protection. It is the prayer that reminds us that what happens in this world isn’t always the stuff of heaven. We are to long for the experience of heaven and for God to intervene here in heavenly ways on earth. Praying the Lord’s prayer keeps us from praying solely out of our emotion. It aligns our prayers with the purposes of God.
It is not only an alignment prayer, but also is a relationship prayer as the whole prayer emerges from the reality that God is our Father. Our Father who art in heaven . . . Jesus had an intimate relationship with His Heavenly Father. I believe when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray it was because they saw something powerful, something profound, something precious and poignant about the relationship Jesus had with His Heavenly Father. That was what they ultimately wanted; the same relationship with God as Father.
They saw Him draw away for times of prayer, extended prayer, sometimes even into the night and they never looked on and thought, “Boy, Jesus must be bored out of His mind.” They never thought, “He is wasting His time talking to a Father He can’t even see with His eyes.” No. They saw Jesus gaining strength and wisdom and power. They saw Jesus enjoying the time He spent in prayer with the Heavenly Father. They saw the deep relationship the Father and Son shared, and they wanted to know how to cultivate that intimacy with God for themselves!
I truly don’t think the disciples were asking for a formula or for words to memorize, but for a pattern that would help them deepen their daily walk with God. For me, that is what is symbolized in the Lord’s Prayer.
A Deliverance Prayer-Psalm 3
Each of us deals with moments of crisis and distress, moments of despair, depression and even feelings of defeat. Each of us have had times when we felt something was taking life from us, overwhelming us, and like we were being attacked in some way.
Psalm 3 says: Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. (Sounds pretty violent, right? Sounds like a Rambo prayer, right there. ? Not really. The Psalmist is praying that God would take away the power of the wicked to do harm to him and others.)
And then the last verse: From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
Whenever we face temptation, we should pray for deliverance. Whenever we are trying to reign our feelings in because we have been hurt or offended or angered, we can pray God will deliver us from destructive thoughts and behaviors. Whenever we wrestle with the gods and idols of this world and the evils of Hell we can pray for deliverance. God wants us to be free.
If you walk in fear, you can be free. If you deal with addiction, whether to drugs and alcohol or gambling and sex, or to shopping and the approval of others or food or whatever, God can deliver you. If you are delivered it will be by the hand of the Lord.
The first thing you need to get out of that which has a hold on you is a desire to be free and a belief that if you call upon God in prayer, He will help you.
“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:15
Somebody needs to reach for the hand of God today and believe He will deliver you. He can take away destructive desires. He can rewire your thinking. He can give you supernatural strength. He can turn around a bad situation. He can protect you from the enemy and from people who are seeking to harm you. He can transform every facet of your life. Do you believe He has that kind of power this morning?
The second thing you need to grab hold of and what you need to understand when you pray prayers of deliverance is that not only will God move, but He may also want to move you. Sometimes you can’t be delivered and stay where you are, doing what you are doing, in the same circumstances that have bound you. You have to be willing to move with God as He brings deliverance into your life. You have to be willing to follow the Spirit of God and obey God’s leading.
It may mean old friendships will have to be replaced with new ones. It may mean the way you currently spend your time will have to be revamped with new habits and new hobbies. It might mean the job you are currently in where you are oppressed and distressed may need to be left behind for a new position where you can have emotional and spiritual breath. It might mean you get some controls put on your phone and on your computer. It might mean you don’t frequent the old hang outs. You need to pray not only, God, deliver me, but God lead me to a place where I can honor you Psalm 50:15.
So many times, when we pray, we want God to do something, but we aren’t willing to cooperate with the something that God wants to do. Many of us are conflicted right now. We want to live one way, but we are living another. We wrestle with the same mistakes, with choices that keep us in broken patterns. Our good intentions will never deliver us. Even our desire for freedom will never be enough. It will take God’s power and our participation if we are going to live free. Notice again what Psalm 50:15 says at the end. “You will honor me” says God. We honor Him by walking closely with Him and allowing Him to lead us out of darkness and despair and brokenness into the new ways of being and thinking and behaving that He has in store for us. Obedience honors God.
If you are tired of good intentions followed by failure, guilt and confession, and you desire to truly be free, cry out to God for deliverance and ask God to give you supernatural power to cooperate with Him. Ask God for a willingness to embrace the newness He may want to create in your life. When you pray for deliverance be sure to pray for strength and power to walk out the deliverance God wants to bring to your life.
A Thanksgiving Prayer-1 Samuel 2:1–10
We read the story of Hannah in I Samuel. She had been barren. In that day and time, there was a stigma and shame associated with not being able to have children. Hannah had poured out her heart to God and asked for a child. When the request was honored and she gave birth to Samuel the first thing she did was to pray a prayer of thanksgiving.
She began in verse 1 saying, “My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. 2 “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”
We ask God for many things, and it is fine to do so. How often do we thank Him when the answer comes? How often do we thank Him in the meantime for the ways He sustains and keeps us?
I notice some things in Hannah’s story that are especially precious. Chapter one tells us she was married to a godly man. In addition to that, he loved her and was generous with her. He was tuned in to her struggle as a woman whose desire to have children had gone unmet. He saw that life was hard for her. He saw that she was being persecuted and provoked and belittled. He knew she needed extra support from him, and he offered it. What a special gift to Hannah to have such a loving, caring, and sensitive husband, truly something for which to be thankful.
She also had a healing conversation with the priest at the Temple. He offered her peace. She needed that. He didn’t dismiss her. He agreed with her prayer and asked God to grant her the ability to have a child. How thankful she could be that God was providing comfort for her during her time of emotional anguish.
We need to pray prayers of thanksgiving even while we are in distress. God has been good to us. We definitely need to pray prayers of thanksgiving when the answer comes. God is faithful. We can praise God that He is listening to us as we pray. We can praise God that He is sovereign and will work out something wonderful even as we want and wait on something.
Choosing to pray thanksgiving prayers is a wise decision. It will keep us from bitterness and complaining and grumbling which can take us down a dark path. When we are thankful, our hearts can be full and joyful even while we wait for God’s answer. When we are bitter we become petty, we keep score, we place expectations on people that aren’t fair-and all of that can lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness. If you need some hope, start giving thanks for the ways God has already helped you and is helping you even now. II Corinthians 2:14 says, “But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ.” God will see you through. Let that be a reason to give thanks.
So, I am thanking God for His provision for us as we build the new facility even before I see that million-dollar gift. I am thanking Him for the way He is making a way and will provide every penny that is needed even before it all comes in.
Giving thanks before you have what you ask for or need involves an element of faith. Faith pleases God. Praying in general involves faith. We choose to believe God hears our desire for heart change, and that when we confess our need for salvation, He will save us. We choose to believe that God desires to be daily involved in our lives, so we pray out of that relationship, out of that commitment we believe He has to us. We choose to believe we can live free, we can be healed from addiction and vices, we can get out of the pit, we can be delivered, and so we pray for God’s power and our cooperation to move ahead as He leads. We choose to believe God is working for our good and that He will sustain and keep us between now and the time we receive the requests our hearts long for, so we pray prayers of thanksgiving and worship. These are just some of the prayers that we, God’s people, should pray.
FOR NEXT WEEK’S MESSAGE
An Intercessory Prayer-Exodus 32:9-14
Moses’ Prayer for Israel in the Wilderness (Exodus 32:9-14)
Moses pleads with God to preserve his own name and character and not destroy Israel.
A Confessional Prayer-Psalm 51
When we sin against God, how can we pray to restore our fellowship? David’s prayer is a classic prayer of repentance.
A Leader’s Prayer–Nehemiah 1:1-2:9
Nehemiah hears of the suffering of the returned exiles. After grieving in fasting and prayer, he prays for success — and commits himself to God’s will for his life.
A Personal Prayer-Genesis 32:26
26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
I Chronicles 4:10
When the author of Chronicles dutifully provides us with a list of Judah’s descendants, he can’t help but stop himself. Right in the midst of all these names, he comes to Jabez, a man he wants us to notice, a man of true honor. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve caused pain or if you’ve ever wanted to believe that God can do more than you can ask or imagine, this prayer is for you:
“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”
A Submission Prayer-Luke 22:39-46