As we travel through this life, we have so many blessings bestowed upon us yet how often do we stop to give thanks to the God of Heaven for them? Have you ever stopped and did a self-examination on your own prayer life? When you did a self-examination how did you measure up Biblically speaking? If we are all honest with ourselves there is always room for improvement not only in our prayer life but in every aspect of our lives. Let us consider our prayer life for the next few moments. In John 17 Jesus prayed first for Himself, then he prayed for His disciples and lastly for all believers. This is a prayer model from which we ought to be reading and learning. How often do we pray for ourselves and families but may not pray for those outside of our social circle? If we are following the Master’s example, we will be praying not only for those just mentioned but for those who are our spiritual family universally and also for those who may not yet know Jesus the way they ought to.
Many will recite what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer” as recorded in Matthew 6:9-13, but do you realize that this prayer contains a phrase which is not valid for us in the Christian age? Yes, we can use this prayer as an example of the reverent tone in which we ought to pray, to pray for others and for spiritual protection provided if we all submit to His will. We can also pray the same type of prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to His arrest. The accounts found in Matthew 26:36ff; Mark 14:32ff and Luke 22:39ff all recount Jesus asking the Father to allow the anguish and suffering of the cross to not be placed upon Him but went on to acknowledge the Father’s will would be done. Are we secure enough in our relationship with the Father to come before His throne with similar petition(s)? The Hebrews writer wrote in Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Maintain the reverence as given in Matthew 6:9ff but be bold and brave enough to bring everything to the Lord in prayer. Matthew 11:28-30 gives us record of Jesus telling us to bring everything to Him and allow Him to guide our lives. What a blessing to have!
As we strive to bring everything to the Lord in prayer, we must also remember the element of praying for others. How often do you pray for the elders in the local congregation and congregations around the world? We read in Hebrews 13:7 that we are to “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” This passage could not state more plainly that we are to be remembering (i.e. praying for) the men who lead each local congregation. You may ask, “Why is it so important to be praying for these men?” Well, Peter states in 1 Peter 5:1-4 that the elders are to be an example to the church and will answer to the Chief Shepherd (Christ Jesus) on the day of judgement. Paul wrote to the young Timothy concerning elders and the tremendous burden placed upon them. In 1 Timothy 5:17 we read “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” What a tremendous blessing to those men who serve as elders and do so faithfully! Both passages reference the glorious reward awaiting our elders in eternity but while they are here in this life they need, and covet, our prayers to lead a life in harmony with the Gospel.
So, as we perform a self-examination, we need to be ensuring that we are not allowing our own desires, the wants of others or anything else to become a stumbling block in our prayer life. We need to be like Daniel who, despite being told not to pray to Jehovah, went to his room three times a day and prayed with his windows open, as was his custom (Daniel 6:10).
Let us always “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
-by Jonathan Bennett