Think about the last time you earnestly prayed for somebody. What did you ask for? Did you pray for God to deliver him/her from trials? To rescue him from an illness? To help her through a tough financial crisis? To enable him to find a job? To see her through a marriage breakdown?
When we compare our prayers on behalf of others with Paul’s prayers recorded in Philippians 1:9-11 or Ephesians 1:17-19, most of us cannot help but feel ashamed.
I believe Paul was a man who really knew how to pray. You cannot read about his prayers without catching his deep and heartfelt passion. How could we pray like Paul? Praying like Paul means that we must abandon the “prayer jargon” and “vain repetitions”. It means opening our hearts before the Lord, abandoning pretence, focusing on Him. It means truly believing that we enter into the very presence of God, who is listening to our words just like any person with whom we have a conversation during the day.
In the book of Philippians, Paul demonstrates to us how to pray, what to pray for, and why we pray.
First, Paul believes in the power of prayer. Hence he always prays for the Philippian church.
“… always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy” (Phil. 1:4).
Second, Paul prays specifically for his converts (Phil. 1:9-11). He did not utter vague and general prayers.
Third, Paul prays that instead of worrying (Phil 4:6, 7), instead of running here and there to seek help, we are challenged to look to God in prayer.
Finally, why should we pray? We pray because we have a risen Lord and Saviour Who hears and answers prayers (Phil. 2:9-11). And we pray because God uses the means of prayer to meet our needs.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” (Matt. 7:7).
Let’s resolve in our hearts to be a people of prayer that God could use us to unleash His power and glory in the world.
Rev. Mark Tay