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How to Pray Like Paul

The statistics about prayer in this season are remarkable.  More people than ever are searching the internet for information on how to pray.  Averaging 33,000 searches per month, 2020 has seen more searches for prayer than in any of the previous five years.  In Europe, data shows that the search for prayer increased proportionally to registered COVID-19 cases.  Growing concerns over health and safety, economic stability, and civil unrest have driven many toward—or back to—faith and prayer.

In the most basic sense, praying is simply a conversation with God, however, it is a conversation that changes over time as we mature in our faith.  Part of the process is moving from praying for God to meet our needs toward praying for God's will to be done.  In that sense, learning how to pray is a lifelong endeavor as we continue to understand God and his will at deeper levels.  Moreover, in these unprecedented times, even mature believers may struggle to find adequate words to pray as they cry out to God.  

Scripture is rich with prayers, including Jesus' model of The Lord’s Prayer and the anthology of prayer found in the Psalms.  Many prayers can also be found within the text of the apostle Paul's letters right alongside his practical instructions and theological teachings.  These prayers address different situations and people, and can serve as a helpful foundation when we seek to pray in cooperation with the will of God.

Below are three prayers from Paul's letter to the Ephesians.  I have added a little context, and then my own words of prayer (in italics) to help guide you in applying these prayers to your current circumstances.  Remember that the words really don't matter as much as your desire to connect with God, these are only a tool to help you get started.  Be free to talk to him like you would share your concerns with a trusted friend, cry on the shoulder of a loving parent, or seek advice from a mentor or coach.  And if words fail, know that "the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."  (Romans 8:26)

As Paul opens his letter, the prayer in Ephesians 1:17-19 is for his readers—and all of us—to know God better.  This is a great prayer for ourselves and for those around us, including friends and family, church and civic leaders, and anyone you think needs a little more Jesus.

17 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. 18 I pray 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 his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Thank you, God that there is nothing too big for you; that I can ask again and again as I see need around me.  We need to know you more God, and to understand that we are a family of believers, in ways that change us from the inside out.  

Ephesians 3:16-21 offers this prayer as the readers of Paul's letter come to understand that the gospel is meant for both Jewish people and gentiles.  It is a good prayer for this time in our world too, but also for anyone feeling uneasy at any time.

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
God, when I am struggling—or when those around me are struggling—thank you that your Spirit is with us, and that it is the power of your love that makes all the difference.  Your love is the same for everyone and it is what can make us feel strong and steady.  Help me to understand your love, to experience it, and to share your love, drawing attention to how wonderful Jesus is now and forever.

In Ephesians 6:19-20, Paul asks the readers of his letter to pray for him to be fearless even as he sits in prison.  While most of us do not face prison for sharing the gospel, discussions about faith can be difficult for many other reasons.  This is a great prayer for your pastors and leaders as well as yourself.

19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.  
God, I pray for (name) to know and share the gospel without fear, no matter what.  Help them also communicate in a way that leads others to understand the meaning and value of the life of Jesus, again without fear.

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1 Comment


Susan Doxie - June 22nd, 2020 at 2:00pm

This was an awesome teaching on how to pray like Paul. We can never go wrong with praying the Word of God. I am teaching a lesson to a group of Women on how to pray; when I ran across this lesson. God Bless you.

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