Learning to Pray

“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).

It is a worthwhile study to examine the prayers of the Bible in order to learn how to pray more effectively. John the Baptist taught his disciples how to prayer. The disciples of Jesus thought that was a good idea, and so they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus answered their request and gave them a Model Prayer, often called, The Lord’s Prayer. If you pray the Lord’s Prayer, you already pray at least one of the prayers found in the Bible. But there are other prayers, or parts of a prayer, that can provide help when you are not sure what to pray. The following types of prayers, and some of the thoughts, were suggested by an article in Guidepost Magazine.

A Prayer of Surrender

When my friend Charles, was in the hospital with terminal cancer, I was not sure whether I should pray for miraculous healing, or his imminent departure into heaven. Charles helped by pleading with me to pray that he would be released from his suffering. He wanted the pain to stop. He wanted to go to heaven. I prayed that the Lord would honor the request of Charles. There is a prayer of surrender. Jesus said to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39) Then, at Calvary, Jesus said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46). There is a prayer of surrender.

 A Prayer for Strength, Faith, and Love

Sometimes when we are asked to pray for someone without knowing details, we can pray the words found in Ephesians 3:14-19. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”

 A Prayer for Enlightenment

 When someone longs to know the will of God in a particular matter, we might pray with that person using Paul’s prayer for enlightenment in Colossians 1:9-12. “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”

To this prayer we can remind the Lord of His promise in James 1:5. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” The Lord is never offended when we claim His promises, and remind Him of His word because we believe His promises.

A Prayer for Understanding and Favor

A good prayer to offer at any time is a prayer for understanding and divine favor. Moses prayed such a prayer, according to Exodus 33:13, and we are wise to follow his example. “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.”

 A Prayer for Blessing

 “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: 25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. 27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them” (Num. 6:24-27).

A Prayer for Influence and Protection

Several years ago Bruce Wilkerson published a little book on The Prayer of Jabez, found in 1 Chronicles 4:10. “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested” (1 Chron. 4:10).

A Prayer of Repentance

David’s prayer of repentance after his shameful treatment of Uriah and Bathsheba, found in Psalm 51, is a helpful prayer of confession and repentance from beginning to end, but especially verse 7, and verses 10-12. “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Psalm 51:10-12).

 A Prayer for Revival

Habakkuk’s prayer for revival is a fitting prayer for any family, community, church, or nation: “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

A Prayer for Mercy

The prayer of the tax collector in Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, is an appropriate prayer anywhere, anytime: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13)

A Prayer for Holy Boldness in Witnessing

When the first Christians prayed, they did not ask for prosperity or  ease, but for holy boldness and spiritual power. “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30). These, and other Bible prayers, make it easier to pray according to God’s will. They can help you express yourself when words fail. They can enrich your knowledge of the Bible, provide confidence in prayer, and bring sincerity and sensitivity to the Spirit of God.

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