July 05, 2023
Most followers of Christ are disappointed in their prayer life. Some are not praying at all—some only in a crisis. Some are praying much but having done so and seeing its’ power, they long for more. These know that the most powerful person in the room is always the one who prays, for prayer brings God into the equation.
If we seriously long to be greater in prayer, we must look to those who are. And Paul the Apostle is one of our most effective models. Look at one example in 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10.
For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?
We don’t often think of intercession as joyful, but Paul’s was. As he conversed with God about the people he was ministering to, he and the Father recounted what was happening and rejoiced. Others’ progress in the faith brought Paul increasing joy. Seeing the reality from heaven's perspective, coupled with the Father's delight, lifted Paul's heart and gave him courage to continue as he saw the real results of his labors.
Paul was not a “one and done” pray-er. He loved being with the Father and Son so much that his prayers were not occasional. This was a pattern in Paul’s life everywhere and for everyone.
As we night and day keep praying (1 Thessalonians 3:10)
(We) do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:16)
For this reason, also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9)
Paul prayed all the time for those in Thessalonica, Ephesus, and Colossae. It was prayer with no intermission. It was not once a day but “night and day.” And in the final chapter, he told us for all time to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Paul realized that prayer and the ministry of the Word was not secondary. These were his main tasks and primary tools.
It's wise and wonderful to pray during your morning devotions. But Paul had discovered the joy of bringing God into every moment, every thought. He maintained a running conversation with the Father and Son throughout the day. And so can we.
Paul’s was not a light pray-er. It was over and above. Fervent. Intense. The compound word used for “earnest” begins with “hyper.” It was probably more than "Bless so-and-so" but was the pleading of the purposes and promises of God over their lives. It was continual, but it was also strong prayer. He pushed in through prayer about things that mattered.
His were the intentional, Spirit-initiated prayers that were so specific that he knew when they were answered. Thoughtful, Spirit-led, Word-driven prayers.
“That we may see your face.” Paul’s intercession was driven by his deep love for people. He genuinely cared. He longed to see them and this love was not merely human. It was the fruit of the Spirit as Paul surrendered his life to be a conduit for the love of God. This love constrained and controlled him to love others.
It may be that we are not praying for people simply because we don't care. We should pray that we would be filled up with all the fullness of God's love for those around us. He loves to answer this prayer!
His prayer was always for something that would minister to others. He wanted to see them so he could “complete what is lacking in (their) faith.” “I just want you to go farther, to grow more,” Paul said, "And to that end, I pray." Paul's friends would never know until heaven that much of their growth was due to their friend's faithful, fervent prayers. It can be so for those you love and pray for. What a privilege to make a spiritual deposit in others in private that brings glory to God alone!
PRAYING ABOUT PRAYER
Stop right now and pray about your praying. Use these two verses as your basis. Ask God to help you begin to pray joyful, unceasing, earnest, compassionate, and unselfish prayers. God wants you to learn to pray more than you do, and He longs for you to experience the sheer joy of talking with Him all day long about everything.
September 20, 2023
September 19, 2023
When you’re lifted up in pride or bowed down in discouragement, look at the stars. Every bright light reminds us that He is God and there is no other. The One who made the stars and knows them by name, made you. And you are of infinite worth to our Sovereign Creator.
“He made the stars also.”
August 31, 2023