Prayer is a very private thing; meant to be a communion between you and the Creator God. It’s designed to be about you humbling yourself and listening. It’s about God moving through you. This is often lost in prayer, when we ask for help or salvation repeatedly, thinking the more we say it, the more likely it will happen. We miss the lessons Jesus taught regarding how to pray.
Throughout the New Testament, we find examples of the Apostle Paul praying for the church across the Roman world. In these, we see the lessons of Christ, passed down through his disciples, guiding his prayers and showing us the benefit of praying effectively for one another. Read on to learn how Paul led the early church in prayer.
Prayer should be ongoing and continuous. Paul instructed the Ephesians they should pray constantly, taking every request and prayer to the Spirit (Eph. 6:18). He went on to remind them they needed to be watchful and constant in their prayer for others. He gave similar instructions to the church in Thessalonica, urging them to never stop praying (1 Thess. 5:17), echoing the words of the prophet Ezra when he told the Israelites to keep their eyes on the Lord, always seeking His face (1 Chron. 16:11).
Prayer should be specific, focused on the will of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught those gathered they should avoid babbling in prayer. Many assumed the number of words increased their chances of being heard (Matt. 6:7). Later, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was aware of the coming pain and death, but he focused his prayers on following God’s will. Paul echoed this in Romans 8, where he reminded the believers that knowing the mind of God was impossible, but that a people who loved God and who were committed to seeing His will done would be heard through the intercession of the Spirit.
The prayerful Christian should be expectant when he or she prays. Jesus told the Apostles to pray with faith, knowing prayers done in His name would be heard and answered (John 14:14). John reinforced this, telling the church to be confident that their prayers in Jesus’ name were heard (1 John 5:14-15). Paul urged the church to take everything to God, knowing that the peace of God would fold over them (Phil. 4:6-7). In all of this, there is expectation.
Pray With a Missionary Heart
Jesus’ approach to the greatest and most difficult questions also gave believers a guide to how they should pray. He reminded them to love God and love others, putting aside themselves (Matt. 22:36-40). Later, he modeled this as he prayed for the Disciples and those who would come to the faith through them (John 17:18-21). Paul reminded Timothy of Jesus’ example during the younger man’s ministry in Ephesus, instructing him that prayers should ask for God’s intercession to lead the people in his ways (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
Give of yourself as you pray, sacrificing something in the flesh to move in the spirit. Jesus faced the temptation of the flesh after he fasted for 40 days (Matt. 4:1-11). He later warned the Disciples to pray to escape the temptation their weak flesh would not resist (Matt. 26:41). Paul explained to the Romans that Christ’s sacrifice made possible the spiritual transformation and renewal that came with the Holy Spirit as believers offered themselves as living sacrifices for God’s will daily (Rom. 12:1-2).
For further study in how prayer can transform us, try this Movies that Teach the Fruit of the Spirit devotional.