Learn how to engage in effective and Christ centered prayer from the Apostle Paul as we examine New Testament Scripture and study his motives, initiatives and priorities for prayer.
Many post modern Christians today struggle in the area of daily prayer. Often times we view prayer as a platform provided to us to fulfill our current needs and desires or a great way to vent our secret thoughts. God, being the patient and loving listener that He is, allows us to use prayer as a sounding board for any and all manner of spiritual conversation and I believe would offer no discouragement to any one of His children who seek Him through genuine prayer for any of the reasons mentioned. However, it is so often the individual petitioning the prayers who eventually realizes that the pathway of communication has become a misappropriated resource and begins to wonder if there shouldn’t be more to their prayer life than a steady stream of selfish requests for themselves and their closest friends and family.
We need look no further than the Apostle Paul for a exemplary model of an intentional and productive prayer life in the throws of everyday Christian living. Paul had many personal needs and we know that he prayed for those personal needs to be met as in the case of his “thorn in the flesh” in which he prayed that it be removed on several occasions. Paul was also dealing with everyday pressure from his friends and relationships, family concerns and ties, as well as work and ministry responsibilities similar to what many of us encounter today. Additionally the cultural dynamics he faced in pursuing his faith were an uphill battle that many of us can relate to as well. In the midst of all these pressures it would seem natural for Paul to emphasize his prayer-life around dealing with these obvious circumstantial and situational hazards. However when we examine scripture we find another focus altogether.
Paul mentions the focus of his prayer life on many occasions in his contributions to scripture within the New Testament and we will be examining many of those occasions individually in articles to come, but for the sake of this overview we will limit our discussion to the overall arching themes of these prayers. Paul was able to embrace an “other focused” mindset in his prayer-life, which overflowed greatly into his relational and ministry life. Constantly seeking advancement for others within the context of expanding the Kingdom of Christ.
The Apostle Paul primarily structured his prayer life around the following major themes.
– That God would create and nurture opportunities for Paul to have an effective ministry.
– That God would impart wisdom and knowledge to the body of Christ and that the hearers would have receptive hearts and minds.
– For Believers to grow in their Christian faith and spiritual maturity.
– For Holiness to be an obvious marker in the everyday life of a Believer.
– That those who follow Christ not stray or depart from their convictions and His leading.
– For straightforward encouragement to beset those in need. For the Gospel message to be spread throught the world.
– For the general well being of others.
As we look at these major themes of Biblical prayer they stand as a mirror for us to reflect our own prayer initiatives against. We will be dissecting these themes and reviewing the associated scripture references in future articles as we look to gain insight from the examination of the heart of the Apostle Paul as demonstrated through his prayer efforts. Until then, it would do us well to incorporate these consistencies of compassion into our prayer efforts as well. Even a simple overview of these principles brings to light that the central focus of Biblical prayer should revolve around the advancement of the Kingdom through the diligence of servant-hood. Serving other by supporting their growth, developing our own ministry effectiveness and providing a platform for encouragement and healing as others face their own challenges.
We have much to learn from the example of the Apostle Paul. I look forward to further examining each of these principles along side you in subsequent articles.
How is your prayer life energy level compared to the rest of your walk?