I believe one of the greatest weaknesses in the church today is our prayer. Many of us lack power in prayer as individuals and as corporate bodies.
That's because too often, our prayer consists of a list of who is sick that week. And that's it--we don't ask God for anything else. We don't go any deeper.
But when we read through Paul's letters--that's not how we see him praying. If we do believe in the Inspiration of Scripture, then the Holy Spirit would have been the One motivating Paul to write them down. That's because there is something even in those prayers that was for more than just his immediate readers. There is something in those prayers for us. Meaning, if Paul was living and writing today, you would see him praying for us in much the same way addressing many of the same issues and needs in our life and the life of the church.
Below are most of the instances where Paul is writing down his prayers, his needs or talking about prayer. I recommend reading through all of them and take notice of the kinds of things he prays for and asks for prayer for himself. Couple what you see in those prayers with the Lord's Model Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13
1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, 3:11-13, 5:23-25
2 Thessalonians 1:3, 11-12, 3:1-5
Ephesians 1:17-19, 3:14-21, 6:18:20
Colossians 1:9-14, 4:2-6, 12
1 Timothy 2:1-3
1. God’s Name to be Exalted & His Kingdom Expanded—Matthew 6:9-13
a. Hallowed Be Your Name
b. On Earth as it is In Heaven
c. In the Church
d. In our hearts
e. Around the World
f. 2 Thessalonians 1:12
2. To Know & Experience God & His Will
a. Eph. 1:17
b. Philippians 1:9-10
c. Colossians 1:9
d. For God's will to be done on earth--His people need to know what His will is since we are often times the agent He uses to accomplish His will. This is also more than just knowing or facts, but also experience and being an active part of. "Not my will but Yours be done."
3. Oneness with God & Love for Each Other
a. Unity with Christ
b. Unity of the Body
c. Oneness in Mind/Purpose
d. Beliefs & Actions out of Belief
4. Full & Mature Awareness of the Grace & the Greatness of Salvation
a. Eph. 1:18, 3:16-19
b. The only way we can half-heartedly live the Christian life is when we don't really understand just how much God has done to redeem us.
5. Raise Up Mature & Empowered Leaders & Workers for the Harvest
a. Luke 10:2
b. Realize that when you are asking God to send workers--He may fill you with the knowledge of His will which may include "You're just who I had in mind" and we are then given the choice of Isaiah to say, "Here am I, send me."
6. Empowerment, Opportunity & Boldness to Fulfill the Mission
a. Eph. 1:19, 3:20-21
b. Colossians 4:2-5
c. 2 Thess. 1:11
d. Ephesians 6:19
e. Remember that when Paul wrote Colossians & Ephesians, he is in prison. In Col. 4 he doesn't ask for doors to open for his release, but doors of opportunity for the Gospel and boldness and wisdom in those opportunities. He would be speaking before judges & officials--who could free him, kill him or even come to faith.
7. Fruitfulness in the Mission
a. Phil 1:11
b. Col. 1:10-11
c. 1 Thessalonians 3:12
d. Philemon 1:6
e. Fruitfulness expands the kingdom--but too often we are doing things in our own strength and power, thus lacking results. We need to ask for God's power to do the hard work of growing the fruit. And if we know His will, we'll be doing what He wants and serving how we should serve.
8. Power & Discernment to Resist Satan & Temptation
a. 1 Thess. 3:13
b. James 4:10
c. Personal Holiness
d. Holiness in the Church
f. Resist Temptation—1 Corinthians 10:13
g. Recognize False Teachers & Teachings—Matthew 24:4-5, 1 Peter 5:6-7, 2 Peter 2
h. This is a big topic. Realize that Ephesians 6 is greatly directed toward the spiritual conflict. And when we are tempted, God will provide a way of escape. But we also need to realize that when we "submit to God" we have the true ability to "resist the devil" and as a result of the power that comes from submitting to God, the devil "flees"--the devil runs from the power of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
9. Confession of Sin & Repentance
a. 1 John 1:9
a. Phillippians 4:6
11. Specific People for Salvation or Restoration
a. Ephesians 6:18
b. God does not want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance. And this is a major part of the mission we are here for--we are a part of His rescue mission. Even when we as His children wander away--God will discipline (Hebrews 12) but that discipline is always with the hope and intention of restoring relationship and bringing someone home.
12. Specific People for Health & Comfort
a. 2 Corinthians 1:3-6
b. 1 Timothy 2:1
c. This is where our own experience of God's comfort can overflow to serve and minister to someone else.
13. Prayer for Government & Officials
a. 1 Timothy 2:2
b. 1 Peter 2:13
c. Romans 13
d. Whether you like those in the position of power or not. Remember, the gov't these men were dealing with was far worse than any political party we know today. After all, it executed Peter & Paul and blamed the Christians for burning Rome (oh wait, maybe we're getting closer...)
14. Christ’s Return, the Peace of Jerusalem and the Future of this Congregation
a. Revelation 22:20
b. Our future is in His hands and our hope is and should be always looking forward to His return. In all the lessons of the 2nd coming, we need to keep in mind three basic things:
Be Watchful--anticipating and looking for His return
Be Hopeful--not afraid of what may be coming or how "bad" things may get first. "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."--Hebrews 11:1 that goes along with 2 Peter 3:3-4-"be aware of this: scoffers will come in the last days... saying, "where is the promise of His coming?"
Be Faithful--be doing what we should be doing in the meantime--seeking His power, doing His will, fulfilling His mission--
This is by no means an exhaustive list--but please add these elements to your prayer--we have not, because we ask not.