Tag Archives: christian prayers

Pray Without Ceasing


As Michael and I were kicking around the idea of this week’s debate on prayer times (morning or evening), I asked people on my Facebook page when was the best time for them to pray. I got a few people who said that the morning was their best time and a few who said that the evening was. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of religious, Sunday school answers I got. Over and over I got, “Pray without ceasing. Duh, Chris!” I rephrased the question multiple times so people understood that I wasn’t asking when should we pray, but when did they find was the best time for them to pray. The overwhelming answer was the same.

Either they didn’t understand what I was asking or they didn’t understand prayer. Since I rephrased, put all caps, and tried a few times to get the question right, I’m left with the thought that people don’t truly understand what the Bible means to pray or they wouldn’t be saying they’re doing it without ceasing. I know I don’t pray without ceasing (and I consider myself a person of prayer), and I’m pretty sure most of my friends don’t either. I can count on one hand the amount of people I know who spend hours in prayer each day. They’re the closest ones I know to praying without ceasing.

Sending up a, “God please help me,” a “please let this problem go away,” or a “bless my food” prayer isn’t praying without ceasing. The Greek word for that verse is proseúxomai. It means an exchange, as in a dialogue. Prayer is not about you giving God a wish list. It’s about you having an exchange of words, a conversation with Him. The quick one liner prayers when you’re in a bind don’t constitute an exchange. They’re one sided and don’t invite God to speak back. They only invite Him to listen and to come to your rescue. He wants more than that from you and me.

My wife and I have a monitor in my son’s room so we can hear him and he can talk to us. The problem is that it’s one way. We can hear him, but he can’t hear us. Too many Christians operate that way with God. They think He’s got a monitor in their life where He can hear us, but not talk back. Just like my wife and I talk back to our son without him hearing, so too we aren’t listening for God to speak to us.

I was in a conference with John Maxwell this week. One of the many thought provoking things he said was, “There’s a direct correlation between you being willing to listen and God being willing to talk.” This week, Michael and I have gone back and forth making arguments for when the best time to pray is. The truth is, the best time to pray is when you have the time to listen. God is always wanting to speak to us. The problem is we only give Him the opportunity to listen. Change that as you go forward. Give Him space and time to speak, then get ready to listen. Once you start listening to God speak, you’ll want to pray without ceasing.

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The Prayers Of Paul

Paul lived an incredible life. He went from an aggressive persecutor of the church to an aggressive follower of Jesus Christ. He was shipwrecked three times, bitten by a venomous snake, stoned and left for dead, deathly ill for over a year, imprisoned and eventually beheaded. Yet he would write two thirds of the New Testament and stay firmly fixed on his calling to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul was probably able to do all this because of his strong prayer life. Each of his letters to the churches are filled with him praying for them and asking for very focused prayers for himself. His recorded prayers are not long but they are powerful. Paul is very consistent with his prayers through each Epistle and Ephesians provides us with a great example.

When you have a chance I suggest that you start by reading Ephesians 1:1-23. Paul begins in verse two by praying a blessing of grace and peace over the church. (This was a standard greeting of the day and used by other Apostles). Grace and Peace are such powerful words. When you actually look at the original Greek, you see that Paul prayed for the Ephesians to be “lavished” with Grace and Peace. If you think about it, when you have God’s grace and His peace, what else do you really need? His grace is given to you freely. You don’t have to work for it and you don’t need to be good to earn it. His peace is complete; it is greater than our circumstances. Our circumstances may be difficult at times but His peace will see us through every time. It is a peace that invades our thoughts and emotions.

Paul then uses verses 3-14 to praise God and remind the Ephesians of the good things they have received from God. When life is hard, it is easy to forget the blessings that God has lavished upon us. Paul reminded them (and now reminds us) of how we have been adopted by God and how we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. It is so easy to forget all of the good things that God has done for us. Paul wanted to be sure they never forgot the gift of the Holy Spirit and that we are counted as God’s very own possession. On a regular basis it is important to write down how God has blessed your life. When did He show up when you thought you had no hope? Then weave into your prayers those events along with Paul’s reminders.

In verses 15-23 Paul begins to thank God for the Ephesians and prays that they will receive God’s wisdom and revelation and that they would know Him better. Paul makes sure they know that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is working in their own lives and that same power works in our life.

At the end of Ephesians, Paul asks for the church to pray for him. When he wrote this Epistle he was in prison. One would think he would ask them to pray for him to be set free. However, Paul saw beyond his current circumstances to something greater. He asked them to pray that he would preach with boldness. In Ephesians 6:19 he asks that he could speak “fearlessly” (NIV). He is in prison, in chains and all he asks for is the ability to preach fearlessly.

Let’s break it down to the few key points of Paul’s prayer:

1. Pray for the Grace and Peace of God to be lavished on you, your family and for others.
2. When you pray take time to remember the work of salvation and remember the specific blessings God has worked in your life.
3. Pray for yourself and others that you may know God in an ever deeper and richer way.
4. Pray beyond your circumstances. God is madly and passionately in love with you. He cares about your needs but something happens when we focus our prayers on a greater cause, a cause where you will live out his perfect and good will. If we have God’s grace and peace and pray beyond our circumstances, I am sure God will meet our needs in the right way.

These thoughts are not intended to be the only way we pray. My hope is that they will become a starting place so that your prayer life will grow richer and more effective.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the prayers of Paul. What other key elements stand out to you?

Jon Stallings is a bi-vocational pastor and blogger from Stockbridge GA. He is co-pastor, along with his wife Janice, of Life Church in Conyers Ga. He also works for a technology company in Atlanta. Jon is passionate about helping others live out their own God given calling. He blogs about faith, leadership and life at www.jonstallings.com. You can also connect with him on twitter @jonstallings

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A Prayer For Your Family

Lord,

I lift up your name. I praise you because you’re worthy. You are the omnipotent and I recognize that. Where I am weak, you are strong. When I can’t, you are able. When I am limited, you are unlimited. You own the cattle on a thousand hills as the Psalmist out it. You own everything we see. You created this universe and are beyond the vastness of it. You can create something out of nothing with just your voice. Your words are powerful. More powerful than anything any one of us could ever imagine.

Today, I ask you to speak into my family. I pray that you would speak protection over them. As each of us go different ways, you are the only one who has the ability to watch over us and to protect us. Guard our paths. Expose the enemy when he’s lying in wait to steal, kill and destroy those I love. Rebuke him and keep him away so that he cannot lay a finger on anyone in my household. You are the One who gives abundant life and I ask that you speak that life into my family.

Next I pray that you would order each of our steps. Your Word says that the steps of a righteous man are ordered by you, so I ask that you would shine your light on the paths that each of us are to take. If anyone of us stumbles, reach out your hand to catch us, pull us back up and set our feet back on your path. Keep us from wandering off the paths that you have chosen for us. We want to do your will and go where you tell us. Make your way clear to each member of my family so there’s no question where you want them to walk.

For the members of my family in relationships, I ask that you would strengthen them. Draw them closer together through their relationship with you. Help each one to be selfless in their responsibilities in that relationship. For those who are yet to be in a relationship, I ask that you would bring someone who is godly into their life to challenge them in their relationship with you in order to help them grow. Put that person you have for them in their path so they will see them and your hand in the situation. Remove all fear and doubt from their mind in order to help them trust your plan for them.

Above all, I ask that you would place on each of us a hunger for more of you. Give us an appetite, a craving for your Word. Cause us to never be satisfied with anything less than you. Help us to put away spiritual junk food and to focus on putting only healthy things in our minds and hearts. When we do, I know we will be a reflection of you in all we say and do. We want to be good examples of who you are to those we meet. We want to be able to speak life into others, to build them up and encourage them. Let our lives lead others straight to you. Help us to represent you faithfully as we become more like you every day.

I ask all these things in Jesus’ name.

Amen

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Prayer For Wisdom

Heavenly Father,

I want to start this prayer by saying, “Thank you.” There is so much in my life to be thankful for. You have blessed me in so many ways that I often over look some of them and treat them as ordinary. The truth is, nothing that comes from you is ordinary. Nothing you give me is common and I don’t want to treat it as such. When I sit down and think of all the ways you bless me daily, it gets overwhelming. I don’t deserve your goodness, but I’m thankful for it. I can’t repay you for the blessings. I can only offer a heart full of gratitude.

I confess that I don’t always appreciate the gifts you give. In fact, sometimes I even complain about people and things you bring into my life. I lose perspective on why you bring them into my life. I forget that you want me to make an impact on them by treating them with your love. I look at them as problems, distractions or annoyances. I don’t want to think about people or things in my life like that. I want to love them the way you love me. I want to treat them like you treat me, but I need your help to do that. Open my eyes to see beyond the distractions so I can see their needs. Give me wisdom in how I react and treat them.

You said in James 1:5 that if I lacked wisdom, I could ask you for it. Today, I’m asking for wisdom. I need divine wisdom for the situations I’m facing, for how to handle the relationships you’ve given me and with making decisions about my future. I can’t see very far into my future, but you already have it scripted out. My future is already history to you. I just want to make sure that I make the best decisions so I can have the future you have planned for me. I don’t want to make decisions based on knowledge. I want to make them from a position of wisdom and understanding.

I know that you have plans for me. I know that you want what is best for me. I understand the mindset of a father who wants the very best for his child. I know the love that pours out of me towards my own flesh and blood. If I feel this way about my own child, how much more do you feel for me? I can’t even grasp the depth of your love and desires for my life. I can’t comprehend the magnitude of what you want for me. Just like my child doesn’t understand the full concept of my love for him, I don’t understand the full concept of your love for me. I want to, but I don’t have the capacity.

Help me to live my life out of gratitude for all you’ve done. Show me the paths you want me to walk down in order to receive the future you’ve written out. Give me the courage to make the hard decisions that I have to make in order to be where you need me to be. Let your peace reign in me when the hard times come. Help me to make right decisions based on your wisdom instead of my emotions. Lead me along the paths of righteousness. Open my eyes to see people you’ve placed on my path to help along the way. Open my hands to give away what you ask me to give away. Open my mouth to speak wisdom into other’s lives and open my ears to hear your voice above all else.

I ask these things in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

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