The Who's and What's of Prayer
I remember when I was a young mother, I attended a church in Tallahassee, Florida, that had a beautiful prayer room. It looked like a sitting room in an old Victorian house, with cherry wood tables and a couch with a rose pattern on the fabric.
It also had a rocking chair and an easy chair. On a table in front of the couch sat a basket filled with hundreds of index cards of prayer requests submitted by members of the congregation for the last several decades. The lighting in the room was kept low, and it felt like when you entered the room, no other sound could penetrate it.
This church had intercessory prayer through every service. Once, when the youth group were on a missions trip, the church asked for 24-hours of prayer for them. A sign-up sheet went around the church, and the blocks to sign up to pray were one-hour long.
I signed up for prayer one morning at 5am. I got to the church about 4:55, and right at 5:00, the prayer room door opened and one of the elderly woman in the church came out. We only nodded – we didn’t really speak, and I went into the prayer room.
At first, I wondered, “How can I possibly pray for a solid hour?” I had no idea how to do that. I didn’t know what to pray for. I knew to pray for the youth, but the longest prayer I could think of wouldn’t take more than five minutes — leaving me with fifty-five more minutes to fill the time.
But, I’d dedicated myself to a full hour of prayer, so I went to my knees, using the seat of the rocking chair to brace my arms, and started praying.
An hour and two minutes later, a knocking on the door surprised me. I couldn’t believe how fast that hour had gone! How had I just prayed solidly for an hour?
After that, I became determined to solidify my prayer life. I want to pray to God in a way that He wants, and the only way to figure that out is to go to His Word and see what He has to say about how to pray, for whom to pray, and for what to pray.
PRAY FOR YOURSELF
There is nothing wrong in praying for yourself. Your communication with God is so very personal. It can be about you! It doesn’t have to be a time of working down a checklist of prayer requests that someone has given you. Pray for yourself – and know how you need to ask others to pray for you, too.
PRAY FOR BOLD SPEECH
Ephesians 6:19-20 says: …and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
I pray for myself that I may always speak the Gospel boldly. I never want to seem ashamed of the Word of God, and of the amazing gift we have been given through the Gospel message.
PRAY THAT MY WORDS AND MY HEART MAY BE ACCEPTABLE
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.
Oh, this is a prayer that I pray so often. I don’t ever want my heart to be displeasing to God. I want my thoughts, my emotions, my desires — I want all of those things to be acceptable in His sight. I want Him to look down at me and say, “Consider my servant Hallee…”
If my heart is right, then my words will be right. The Bible is clear that what flows out of our mouths comes from the heart. So, to piggy-back on the prayer that my heart be pleasing to God, also my words — that what I say glorifies Him always — especially when I speak about Him. I never want to steer someone the wrong way or give anyone bad information as it pertains to God.
PRAY FOR FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND A RENEWED HEART
Psalm 51:2 says:
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
And Psalm 51:10 says:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
I’m not in the camp that believes that we sin all the time every day. However, I know that I am a sinner in a fallen and broken world, and I know I sin. I know I struggle with temptation and sometimes give in. It’s part of our life here on this earth. I often pray these words out loud – repenting of my sins with a sincere heart.
Sin can bring us down, throw us off our track, damage our armor and dull our sword. A renewing of our steadfast spirit and a cleansing of our heart will shine our armor and sharpen our sword, allowing us to once more step into the battle for Christ with a stronger presence than before.
PRAY FOR STRENGTH TO STAY ON THE PATH
Psalm 86:11 says:
Teach me Your way, O Lord;I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
I don’t want to be swayed by the ways of man. I want to walk on God’s path, in His truth, with my heart purified to Him. I want my fear (love and abiding respect) of God to motivate my every action, reaction and thought. I want to love the Lord my God with all of my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. The only way to accomplish that is to ask Him for it.
PRAY FOR WISDOM
James 1:5 says: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
How amazing is this? I don’t do a generic asking for wisdom usually — I usually go into specific situations and ask for wisdom in how to deal with them. But, you know what? God promises that He’ll give us the wisdom we ask for! Embrace that! BELIEVE it! He is not a man that He should lie.
PRAY FOR OTHERS
For whom are we to pray, and what does that look like? I know that when groups of Christians get together, we often trade prayer requests – asking for specific prayer for specific needs, sicknesses, etc. Those are wonderful. Pray for people when they ask for prayer – that’s a good thing.
But, there is so much more in the Bible about praying for others.
PRAY FOR YOUR COUNTRY:
Romans 10:1 says: Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.
You can take this two ways — you can pray for your country and the people in it that they may be saved. Or, you can take your denomination of faith and pray for the people in it that they may be saved. It could go all directions. I personally take it to mean that I need to pray for the people in my country and in my community – for the unsaved among us.
PRAY FOR THOSE IN CHARGE, IN COMMAND, IN SERVICE:
1 Timothy 2:1-2 says: Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
I used this as a directive to to pray for our national leaders, my state leaders, my community leaders, and, since I live on a military installation, for the people in authority here.
I pray for my husband’s supervisors, managers, the leaders in his company. And, because he’s in the National Guard, for the people in his chain of command.
I also pray for my children’s schools, the leadership there, and their teachers/professors. I pray for wisdom, guidance, clarity, peace, a relationship with Christ, and the giving of grace.
PRAY FOR LABORERS
In Matthew 9:37-38, Christ said: Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
I pray that God sends laborers into His harvest, but I also pray that I am a laborer, and that God will use to me to bring laborers into the field.
PRAY IN THE SPIRIT WITH PERSEVERANCE PRAYING FOR FELLOW CHRISTIANS
Ephesians 6:17-18 says: And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…
I pray for myself that I am able to hone my sword — which is the Word of God. I pray earnestly (with supplication) for myself and my fellow Christians (saints) that we are able to continue to battle this world with perseverance. Because, honestly, we can get rather battle-weary if we don’t have the grace of perseverance gifted to us by God.
Knowing that fellow Christians are praying for me is the most incredible thing ever. I get so energized by it. I can’t explain it.
PRAY FOR YOUR ENEMIES
In Matthew 5:44, Christ says: But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…
Oh my friends, this is not easy. I recently posted something on social media that I felt like I must post, but something that I also knew would bring controversy and attacks to it. I was surprised at the support I got from people who read it, and how fast it spread. But, in the midst of calm and respectful conversations with people, I got attacked by someone who was a complete stranger. I don’t even know how she found the post unless it was through someone who shared it. But, she attacked me, who I am, my husband, my friendship with people – she attacked everything about me.
I have the ability to be very sarcastic, and had an incredibly unloving, sarcastic reply immediately spring to my mind. But, I intentionally got up from my computer and walked away. Three steps away, I said out loud, “God, thank you for bringing this woman into my world so that I have an opportunity to pray for her.” Then, I proceeded to spend the next several minutes praying for her.That wasn’t easy. It’s not easy to pray for people who persecute you. But, Christ Himself said we must. Pray for your enemies – whomever they are and whatever the word “enemy” means to you. Your life will be better for it, and your relationship with God will only get better.
If there is a way that I can pray for you, please emailme. On the first Wednesday of every month, I post on my social media asking for prayer requests. Follow me on my Facebook page and keep an eye out for this image and you can be added to my regular prayer requests.