Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer and as I have been looking through the prayers in the New Testament, I have been surprised by how few of them mention prayer for material things.
Do this picture and our prayer lives have anything in common? We may think that we know what prayer is all about but I wonder if we are really missing or more probably not emphasizing the main point of it?
Let’s take the prayer in Colossians 1 as an example, it asks for:
- Complete knowledge of God’s will
- Spiritual wisdom and understanding
- Help to live lives that honour God
- Fruitful lives
- Growth as we learn to know God better
- Being strengthened with God’s glorious power
- Being filled with joy
- A reminder of our rescue and salvation
When was the last time you asked God for any of these things for yourself?
Our prayer life indicates what is the most important to us. We might pray a lot for peace and comfort because it is natural to want these things but Paul’s prayer for the Colossians was that God would equip them to know and follow him through life.
We want God to fix our lives and make things easy but Paul prayed that God would show us how to live for God no matter what life throws at us.
Of course there is nothing wrong with asking about the bare necessities of life, after all Jesus encouraged us to ask for our daily bread, but that is just one ingredient of prayer amongst many. It is a valid and important type of prayer, but it certainly isn’t the main emphasis in the prayers that are recorded in the New Testament.
On one occasion, Paul was chained up in prison and he made a request to the church at Ephesus to pray for him. What does he ask? We might ask for freedom, comfort, having what we need, to be treated well, but Paul says:
And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should. (Ephesians 6.19-20)
Our prayer lives will show what is the most important to us and Paul’s prayer certainly makes it clear what was the most important thing to him.
I hope that I have inspired you to look at some of the New Testament prayers and to pray them for yourself and others who you know. If we do this I suspect that our lives and priorities would change radically.
I hope and pray that God would show us what is really important in life as we talk with him.
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