Christians are often asked to pray for any variety of needs and requests by friends, family members, and others. While praying for this or that, one may be wondering “Is there a better way?” ♦
There’s a dual challenge when friends and family members ask us to pray for them or some specific circumstances surrounding their life, whether it be about a job, a home, a broken relationship, a work situation, finances, etc. One challenge is to actually remember to pray. The other challenge is in actually knowing what to pray.
While we’re sometimes satisfied just remembering to pray for someone, many of us are guilty of defaulting to a simple prayer like any of the following:
- “Dear God, help ____ do well in that interview and get that job.”
- “Dear Lord, please help ____ get their home offer accepted (or loan approved, or application accepted, etc.)”
- “Dear Lord, help ____ and ____ in their marriage relationship.”
- “Dear God, give ____ strength in handling her difficult co-worker.”
- “Dear God, help ____ with their finances and provide for their financial needs.”
Beyond the Lord’s Prayer, is there another practical praying approach actually modeled for us in the Bible? Is there a better way to go about this and avoid feeling that our prayers are trite and superficial?
Yes and yes. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, demonstrated a very powerful way to pray that is a significant shift from the way that most of us go about praying today. The shift is doable for all yet profoundly different in approach and impact.
Paul’s Prayers for the Ephesians
In Chapters 1 and 3 of his extensive letter to the growing church of Christians in Ephesus (written sometime between A.D. 60-62), Paul reveals his praying thoughts and thus leaves us a wonderful model of how one might pray and petition God on behalf others in need or per their request. Here are the passages:
…ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 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. 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, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. – Ephesians 1:15-19
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19
This letter and these prayers are specifically directed toward fellow believing Christians. I would maintain however that the principles at work here can be applied to anyone in your circle of influence regardless of their faith stature or experience.
What’s He Saying?
One can net out Paul’s prayer as follows:
- his heart is thankful for the person/target of his prayer
- he requests that they receive the wisdom and knowledge of God to know Him better
- that their eyes and heart will be enlightened (no denial) of the hope God has for them, the glorious future, and the incredible power available to those who believe
- that God will strengthen them internally through the power of the Holy Spirit
- that Christ will reside, through faith, in their hearts
- that they will be grounded in Christian love and empowered to grasp the full scope of the love of Christ, even as it is incomprehensible
- that they will be filled to capacity with the fullness of God.
“Wow,” you might be saying to yourself. “I thought I’d just pray that they do well in that job interview next week!”
New Perspective On Your Power, Position, and Purpose
I do believe that most of us misunderstand or underestimate the full capacity, power and impact we each have as children of the Living God. The releasing of the Holy Spirit, (the Helper/power from on high) that Jesus himself promised to his followers (Luke 24:49) is available to all of us who believe and call him Lord.
Given that, we actually have unrestricted capacities of strength, power, wisdom, faith, and love to go forth in this corrupted world with heads held high in boldness and confidence. Positioned as empowered followers of God with literal access through prayer to His guidance and directed purpose for our lives and potentially those around us, we should have a completely new perspective on who we are and what we’re doing.
Therefore, when we consider those around us in prayer, elevate your vision and pray that they too receive the Spirit of God and all that it encompasses so that our petitions for cares and needs in this life will be seen in light of a Holy God “who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Do you pray for others like that?
“And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” – Luke 24:49