That was the question the disciples asked Jesus and which people have been asking ever since. I’ve met very few Christians who feel they have an adequate prayer life and most of the prayer warriors I’ve known have learnt how to pray like that through a lifetime of committed wrestling in prayer and to pray. But how do we teach people to pray? How do we help new believers both from within our church culture and from without pray?
That was something we discussed at an elders meeting some time ago. We decided to try a weekly prayer bulletin that was sent to everyone in church with scriptures to base prayers on, varying from week to week in it’s structure and content. Our aim was to help provide some structure on prayer, to help people model their prayers on God’s word, and to unite the church in praying for things we care about.
Aware that it’s been helpful for some I thought I’d share a few over the next few days, not because they are perfect or even good but just because I think this an area we as churches need to be helping our members in. The prayers reflect our local context and circumstances at the time so I’ve taken out the names of individuals or families but left in the general contents to give you a general idea.
For the next few weeks we will be using some of the Psalms and other parts of scripture as a guide for our prayers:
Quietening our hearts
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Stop and think about who it is we are coming to speak to; he is God; Father, Son and Spirit, he made us, he shepherds us with loving care and a goal in mind. Spend some time simply praising God for who he is, praise his name and all that stands for in terms of his character and actions, the way he has helped, guided, sustained, and saved you.
Keeping Jesus central to life
“‘How long has he been like this?’ [Jesus asked the boy’s father] ‘From childhood,’ he answered. ‘It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’
‘“If you can”?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’
- Where are we prone to doubt Jesus can act? Are there areas of life where we have stopped bothering to pray because we aren’t sure Jesus can or will act there?
- Echo this father’s prayer ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’.
- Pray for those in our fellowship who are doubting Jesus love and care or may doubt it because of the situations and circumstances they face. Pray that they would persevere in their faith.
- Pray that as a fellowship we can encourage and spur one another on to faith.
Take some time to ask forgiveness for those places in life and times when our Christians lives have been all talk and no actions. Now read Romans 12v1-2 and pray that God would be at work to change you:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Praying for others
- Pray for those being baptised this weekend: ____________.
- Pray for those who have had to delay being baptised for the moment but are planning to be baptised in the future.
- Pray for our young people. Pray that the books they received on Sunday would spur them on to want to know and live for Jesus.
- Pray for them to come to faith for themselves.
- Pray for them to stand at school where some of the things they are taught directly contradict the Bible’s teaching.
- Pray for Impact and those leading it: ______________.
Praying for the day
Use Paul’s words to either think through the day ahead or review the day ending. Ask God’s help and wisdom in each and every situation you will face.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
I’d love to hear how you encourage and teach your congregations to pray, as we want to do so more and more.