WHAT TO PRAY FOR
The first thing we must do is to ask. If we don’t ask, we will not receive. As James 4:2 says, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” All too often we battle on and on and expect God to take care of the situation and we don’t even speak to Him about it. Learn to talk to Him. Be specific. And later, thank Him when the answer comes.
John says to those of us who believe in the power of the name of Jesus Christ that we can know He hears our prayers and we will have what we ask for. As a believer, we do not want to pursue anything that is not God’s desire for us. Thus, we need to pray in His will. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us; And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:13-15)
What are we to pray for? First, Jesus expressed in The Lord’s Prayer that we are to acknowledge our Father’s authority and glory. Jesus also says that we are to pray to our Father for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. We are to pray for our daily needs as well as for forgiveness for our sins. In addition, The Lord’s Prayer states that we are to pray that we will be led away from temptation and delivered from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13)
Jesus again, as in The Lord’s Prayer, repeats in Matthew 26:41 that we are to pray that we will not fall into temptation. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” and in Mark 14:38 “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”
Two points that stand out in these verses is the fact that our flesh is weak and that we sometimes have a war within ourselves between our spiritual desires and our flesh desires. Jesus understood this and persuades us to pray about this problem. An accurate description of this war between our flesh and spirit is given by Paul. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:18-25)
Jesus asked us to pray for our enemies. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your breathren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
Paul views this concept from a different angle in the book of Romans. “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him, if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” (Romans 12:20) Paul suggests that our enemies will have more to answer for if we are good to them.
Thankfulness is imperative in prayer. In I Chronicles 16:8 it reads, “Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds amoung the people” Continuing in a later verse it reads, “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endurth for ever.” (I Chronicles 16:34)
Paul admonishes us not to worry, but instead, pray with a thankful attitude. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6) Again he writes, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;” (Colossians 4:2) Paul expresses that the mature Christian should be overflowing with thankfulness. “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:7-8)
Jesus gave us the example of praying and giving thanks before eating which is written in John 11:11 when the five thousand plus were fed: “And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.” He also gave thanks when the four thousand plus were fed. “And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. (Matthew 15:36)
Jesus encourages us to watch and pray that we will be spared the things to come in the future. In Luke 21, Jesus describes a future time of trouble that is to come upon the earth, and as a final warning he says, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”(Luke 21:36) He also admonishes the same in the book of Mark. “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” (Mark 13:33)
Paul’s words, concerning praying for the believers generate a good example of what to pray for when it comes to other Christians. Paul prays that his fellow workers be protected from evil and be honest, that they would love to grow in knowledge, wisdom and judgment, that they be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, for their spiritual understanding and for them to be blameless when Jesus returns. In addition, he asks that God would count them worthy of their calling and that they would fulfill his good pleasure. Lastly, he asks that they would have power through their faith. Paul’s mind and prayers were continually on his brothers and sisters in Christ.
We are likewise instructed by John to pray for our brother if he has sinned. “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (I John 5:16)
We need to pray for our country. God instructs us as to what to do in order for a nation to be restored if it is faltering. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) If each Christian were to pray for our country imagine how much more the blessings would flow. If we all did our part, even those who do not believe would be blessed because of us.
The word of God tells us that God is willing to listen and reason with us, but we need to talk to him. In this blog you can read of several examples of biblical people who talked and reasoned with God concerning many different situations. He likes to hear of our concerns. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) Also in Isaiah 41:21 he states, “Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.”