The Bare Soul
- July 5, 2009
Praying God's Word
Matthew 6:9a - Pray, then, in this way ...
So often I hear believers say something to the effect as that they don't know how to pray. What a travesty! God's Holy Word is filled with those who teach prayer not only from a direct lesson as Jesus taught His disciples (Matthew 6:9-13), but also those who teach from example. The apostle Paul gives us a wonderful treasury of prayers to pray back to the Father in His Son's name. Paul was not ashamed or timid when speaking to the churches that they should follow his example and imitate him in all his ways (Philippians 4:9). Whether he was instructing them in person or through one of his letters, Paul was a living example of not only how to live but how to live a life of unceasing prayer. He must have known through the Holy Spirit that by writing out his prayers that he was instructing his beloved churches regarding how to both supplicate and intercede with a Godly focus.
There are many such examples in the Pauline letters, but we will look at just a few. The depth of Paul's wisdom and understanding of God should not intimidate those who would desire to pray as Paul prayed. For example, Ephesians 1:17-19 (New International Version) states:
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. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
The apostle's words may seem flowery and lofty, yet they can be easily broken down to better understand their intent. Here is one possible way that a believer might pray back Paul's prayer to the Father:
Holy Father, I am going to keep asking you over and over for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Lord, I don't fully understand what that means but I ask you to show me what wisdom and revelation mean in my heart and in those hearts that I am bringing before you today. Fill us today, Lord. Father, help me to visualize in my spirit how you are opening the eyes of my inner person to understand the important job you have called me and others to complete. With that calling, you have provided all the resources and power to accomplish these great things if only I will but believe. Help my faith, Lord, to believe that you are backing me up to complete this work by your incredible, unlimited power.
The preceding passage in Ephesians is only one of several specific prayers that Paul prayed for instruction to the early churches. Others include Ephesians 3:14-19, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-12, I Thessalonians 5:23, and II Thessalonians 1:11, just to name a few. These prayers contain specific prayers for the churches as Paul laser-focuses his petitions for specific out workings of the Divine Spirit in their midst (e.g. love, wisdom, knowledge, power, and sanctification for the equipping of the saints).
Not only may we be aware of stated prayers such as in the Pauline letters, but we may also take numerous scriptures throughout the Bible and turn them back around as prayers of supplication, intercession, or thanksgiving. For instance, Paul states in I Thessalonians 5:18 to ... give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. One could just as easily turn that into a prayer and say, "Lord, help me to give thanks in all things because I know this is Your will for me!" As we begin to pray back God's word to Him, we find a greater ability to continue to breathe out prayers as we meditate on His word. We further understand that our lives can truly become a life of unceasing prayer as we memorize and repeat His word back to Him. Note also, that praying the word is not merely relegated to the New Testament. Many of the Psalms are wonderful, heartfelt expressions of prayer and thanksgiving for God's wonderful dealings with writers such as David and Asaph. These scriptures are "living and active" and as relevant to be prayed back to God as they were 3,000 years ago (Psalm 102:18). Isaiah is one of my personal favorites. This learned prophet wrote in an eloquent, poetic way with a heart of passion for Israel. I invite you to look especially at chapters 40 through 66 as you personalize Isaiah's prayers for our contemporary lives. They have just as much power today when we substitute in prayer the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem for the current Body of Christ -- His living church.
Beloved, my challenge is that we would all embrace the power of praying God's word. Through an earnest desire to know the depths of God's word through prayer, the Holy Father will reveal His Son in ways that we have never imagined. By asking Him to open up and reveal the depth of wisdom in the scripture in prayer, we too can experience an understanding equal to Paul's that may have once seemed distant and improbable. The apostle admonishes us in Romans 12:2 to not be conformed with the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. How much better for our minds and our hearts to be changed then by Him speaking to us His holy word? That is only half the exchange. He earnestly desires that we would take that word and speak it back to Him. God desires a holy conversation of humble prayer and supplication with His bride. He has given us the words to speak if we would but offer them back to Him with a desire to please Him in faith and love.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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