Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
February 25, 2007
Petitions of Prayer, Pt. 1
This morning we will be continuing in our study on prayer. Over the last two months we have looked at the definition, preparation, purpose, practice, pattern and prerequisites of prayer and then put that into action with a modeling of prayer last week. For the next two weeks I want to bring all these things together in as practical manner as possible by looking at the petitions of prayer. What things should we be praying for? This morning I want us to look at the specific petitions the apostles mention in the Scriptures, and next week I want to show you how to take the principles and precepts of the Bible on any subject and apply them in your prayer life.
But before we do that, as a way of reminder of what we have already learned lets review Paul Bunyan’s excellent definition of prayer:
“Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to His Word, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God.”
Prayer is sincere. Nothing is hidden, nothing is held back. There are no pretenses. You can’t fool God.
Prayer is sensible. It is not senseless gibberish, but is done with both emotion and understanding.
Prayer is an “affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God. – There is a strong & deep longing of the heart to commune with God.
Prayer is accomplished through Christ, by the strength or assistance of the Holy Spirit – Prayer apart from Christ is not heard, and when we struggle in prayer, the Holy Spirit is ready to assist.
Prayer is for such things as God has promised, according to the Word of God – the Bible. The Bible reveals the will of God so that we can pray properly. Without its guidance we will pray for our own desires, and not God’s will.
Prayer is for the good of the church – It honors God. It seeks to advance the cause of Christ. It is for the benefit of God’s people.
Prayer is made with submission in faith to the will of God. Only prayer that is made in faith in submission to the will of God is heard by God and therefore answered.
That is what true prayer is, and if we follow it then many of our errors in prayer will be corrected, and especially if we will be careful to pray within the framework Jesus gave in Matt. 6. I believe that the major reasons people do not have their prayers answered in a positive manner is that they do not truly pray as Bunyan’s definition would suggest nor do they pray according to Jesus’ model of prayer. Close behind these reasons is the warning in James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” If the prerequisites of prayer are not fulfilled, including praying for the right things, then we cannot expect our prayers to receive positive answers. For what then should we pray?
The following is a list of Proper Petitions of Prayer. The list is not comprehensive. It was complied simply by observing what the apostles either prayed for or requested prayer for. My hope is that this will stimulate your prayer life by moving you to pray as the Apostles did. As we go through the list, examine your own prayer life and consider what should be added and/or emphasized in it and what should be reduced or eliminated.
The Lord’s Glory
The overall purpose of all prayer is that the Lord be glorified. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 1:11,12 “To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power; in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Apart from Paul’s specific prayer requests here, the purpose of that prayer is that the Lord Jesus would be glorified in us.
Do you pray that your response or that of other Christians would be such as to give glory to God?
Understanding of God’s Will
This petition of prayer is repeated in many passages of Scripture. Examples include:
Ephesians 1:15-19 Paul prayed for the Ephesians “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”
Philippians 1:9-11 Paul tells the Philippians: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ: having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
Colossians 1:9-12 To the Colossians, Paul said that he had not, “ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.”
James 1:5-6 James tells us to ask for wisdom that we may understand how the testings we are going through will help make us perfect and complete. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.“ This wisdom is an understanding of what God wants us to do in the situation and how it will work out for God’s glory.
All prayer requests revolve around knowing God and having an understanding of His will. Do you pray for one another to increase in the “true knowledge” of God and an understanding of His will?
Salvation of the Lost
Paul had a great heart for the salvation of the lost. In Romans 9:3 he went so far as to say, “For I could wish (pray – euchomai) that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh”
Paul continually asked for prayer that He might preach the gospel (Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 4:3, etc.). Paul understood that if people are to be saved, then we must pray. Salvation is a work of God, not of human endeavor. The man or woman that would desire to be used of God in that work effectively must do so on their knees seeking the Holy Spirit to go before them, and they need to have others praying for them as well.
Do you pray for the lost? Do you pray for the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sins? (John 16). Do you pray for their eyes and ears to be opened to receive and understand the gospel?
Paul was not content with the basics of salvation. He desired for people to become all that they were saved to be. He prayed for their spiritual growth. A few of many examples.
In 2 Corinthians 13:7-9 Paul prayed for the Corinthians that a. They would not do wrong. b. They would do right. c. That they may be made complete.
Philippians 1:9-12 records Paul’s prayer for the people of that church that a. their love would abound still more and more in real knowledge and discernment. b. they would approve the things that are excellent, and c. that they would be blameless until day of Christ.
Look at Colossians 1:9-12. Here we see Paul’s prayer for the Colossians that they a. be filled with knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (v 9), b. walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (v. 10), c. to please the Lord in all respects (v.10), d. bearing fruit in every good work (v.10), e. increasing in knowledge of God (v.10), f. strengthened with all power for attaining all steadfastness and patience (v.11), g. Joyously giving thanks to the father (v.12).
Do you pray for spiritual growth in this way?
Prayer is also made for opportunities to minister to others.
In Romans 15:30-32 Paul requests them to pray for him that he may be able to complete the ministry he is currently involved in and then come to Rome that he might minister to them. He asks them to petition God on his behalf that he might go there and minster.
In Ephesians 6:18-20 Paul requests the Ephesians to pray for him (and all saints) “That utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” He asks them to petition God on his behalf that he might go and evangelize.
Paul makes a similar requests in Colossians 4:2-4 telling them, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at he same time for us as well that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ for which I have also been imprisoned; in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.”
Paul prays in 1 Thessalonians 3:10 that he may be able to come to the Thessalonians and minister to them; “as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith:”
Do you pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with someone? Do you pray for the Lord to open doors so that you can minister your spiritual gift(s) whatever they maybe?
Those Who Minister
In praying for ministry opportunities you also pray for the person ministering. Do you pray for one another in this regard? Do you pray for me and my family? We need to increase in our knowledge of God, our understanding of God’s will. Do you pray for us to have opportunities to minister? Do you pray that we will glorify God in all that we do? Do you pray for our Church leaders ? Do you pray for our missionaries? Do you pray this for our Sunday School teachers and children’s workers. Do you pray for those who are quietly ministering in the background where no one notices them?
Deliverance From Evil
This petition matches what we saw in the “Lord’s Prayer” – “Deliver us from Evil.”
In Romans 15:30-32 Paul asks them to pray for him that he “may be delivered from those who are disobedient.”
Paul suffered in Asia at the hands of evil men. He comments about that in 2 Corinthians 1:10-11. “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”
I Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God provides a way of escape through temptation. We need to pray that we will be wise enough to see it and that we will be humble enough to take it. This is also true in the midst of persecution by evil men. Pray for strength, patience and endurance to get through it in a way that glorifies God.
Those In Sin
1 John 5:16 states, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not unto death.”
Do you pray for those who have fallen into sin? It is easy to criticize them, but we need to pray that the Lord would be gracious to them, that they might be convicted of their error, that they might respond to the Holy Spirit, that they might submit under the chastisement of God, and that they might be restored to the joy of their salvation. Do you pray for someone – maybe you – to go and talk to that person so that these things might be accomplished? (Galatians 6:1,2).
Unity of the Church
Jesus prayed in John 17:21 “that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send me.” In Philippians 2:2 we are told that we should be of the same mind, the same love, the same spirit and same purpose.
Unity in the body of Christ is very important. Jesus said that the world would know we are Christians by our love for one another (John 14:33). Do we pray for it? Do we pray that we will be of the same mind, spirit, love and purpose? Do we pray that our gifts will work in conjunction with each other as Paul instructs in 1 Corinthians 14:33?
Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 that prayer should be made “for all men, for kings and those in authority that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life. . .” Such a prayer is not selfish, for being able to lead a quiet and tranquil life can also be beneficial for our spiritual growth.
We should pray for those in authority over us. This may not always be an emotionally easy prayer to make because it includes both the leaders we like and those we oppose. What do we pray for concerning them? That they would be “God’s ministers of justice” as Romans 13:1-4 states.
This is probably the petition of prayer that is made the most often. Yes, we should pray for each other when we are sick, but let me quickly add that in all of the N.T. Epistles there are only three references to this. In 3 John 2 the apostle John prays for the health of others as part of his greeting. “Beloved, I pray (euchomai) that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”
In 2 Corinthians. 12:7-9 we find that Paul prayed three times to be healed, but praying for healing does not always mean that healing will take place. It may be that God has a purpose for the infirmity. “And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me – to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart form me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
James 5:13-16 is the third reference. While there is no definite promise for healing of every physical illness/weakness, there is a promise of healing for those illnesses that are the result of sin, provided the one suffering truly repents and prays. “Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
Yes, we should pray for each others health, but in doing so we also pray for all the other things as well. We should pray that they will glorify God, that they will increase in their knowledge of God and understanding of His will, that they may have opportunity to share the gospel or minister in some way, and that others would minister to them.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” We can go to the Lord about anything that is on our hearts. But when we do, we must keep in mind the prerequisites of prayer I talked about a couple of weeks ago. We must meet the conditions God has set for coming before Him. Then we are to pray concerning the things that God’s has said are important to pray about.
In short, the better I understand the Bible which reveals the nature and character of God and His will then the better able I will be to come to Him properly and pray according to His will, and the key to effective prayer is to pray according to God’s will.
1 John 5:14,15 – “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
Only as we do pray according to God’s will do we accomplish the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way. And the only way you as an individual or this church as a whole will ever become what God wants us to be, is to do His work in His way.
Do you know God intimately?
Do you take God seriously?
Are you committed to Him and dedicated to do things His way?
Your prayer life will demonstrate the answer to those questions.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the Scripture references made. 2) Talk with your parents about the proper things to pray about..
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
Define prayer? What is the proper purpose of prayer? The proper practice? How are you doing at using Jesus’ model of prayer in your own life? How do you pray for the Lord’s glory? Why is it important to understand God’s will? How can you know what it is? How do you pray for non-Christians? What non-Christians are you praying for? There are several passages detailing how to pray for spiritual growth of others. List some of the specifics you would like people to pray for you concerning your spiritual growth. Why is it important to have others praying for you concerning your ministry? How are you praying for the ministry of others? Explain the role of prayer in being delivered from evil? How should you respond to those who are caught in sin? What role does prayer play? What is the basis of the unity of the church? Why are we to pray for governmental authorities? What benefit are we seeking in doing so? Why is prayer concerning physical infirmities the most common prayer request? How should we pray for those who have medical problems? What scriptural promises are given concerning them? We can cast “all our cares on God.” What cares are you holding onto that you need to give to Him? How has your prayer life changed in the last month?
Sermon Notes – February 25, 2007
Petitions of Prayer
The Lord’s Glory
Understanding God’s Will
Salvation of the Lost
Those Who Minister
Deliverance From Evil
Those in Sin
Unity of the Church
For comments, please e-mail Church office