Distinct Christian Prayer

Many people pray, and not just Christians. It seems that prayer, talking to someone or something greater than ourselves, is natural to humanity. Christian prayer, however, is quite peculiar and unnatural. While Christians offer petitions of hope and desire, the same as non-Christians, Christians pray with a distinctive approach and goal.

The Christian knows that his or her only basis for acceptance before God is the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, his or her approach to God is as heavenly Father by way of adoption through Christ. Such an approach is by sheer grace and divine mercy.

The Christian also understands that God’s will is wiser and truer than his or her own desires. He or she knows that God is always working towards better ends, as a good heavenly Father. Therefore, his or her goal in prayer is not so much to get something from God but to align himself or herself to the will of God being worked out in the world.

May God not only teach us to pray but may He also create within us an unnatural desire to pray as fervent and sincere Christians.

Do you pray with desperation?

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10).

All Christians know they should pray, and even non-Christians often find some comfort or significance in a kind of prayer. But all prayer is not the same, and prayer is certainly more than mere good wishes. In fact, Jesus provides a model prayer that gives us great insight and help for our own practice of prayer.

Focusing on the eternal God, the Lord’s prayer is a desperate outcry to the good and sovereign King. It is no dispassionate or distant plea, however, for the King is also called “our Father.” Christians are welcomed into the kindly and gracious presence of their maker, sustainer, savior, and rewarder. Such an experience is nearly too much to comprehend. And yet, this experience is available to all Christians at every moment of every day.

However, our awareness of our own desperate need for God is not usually as keen as it should be. So, Christians often wait until moments of crisis and pain to lean upon God’s tireless strength and provision.

Oh, may God make us aware of our great need in order that we might be a praying people. And may God work in the prayers of His people to bring about His good purposes in the world.

Marked by Prayer and Love

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…” (Ephesians 1:15-16).

Those who trust and believe in Jesus as Savior are marked by love for one another. This is especially true in the context of a local church family. When a connected group of Christians grow in their understanding of the Gospel, their loving embrace of one another becomes an increasingly powerful bond.

Many Christians know that prayer and love are things they should do, but sometimes we may struggle to understand exactly what that looks like. Simply put, our love for one another grows out of Christ’s love for us, and our love is put into action by prayerfully engaging one another.

Local church family is a rich and beautiful concept in the Bible. While it is certainly challenging, it is also highly rewarding. Those Christians who desire meaningful relationship with Christ will know that such a thing will inevitably correspond with loving and prayerful relationships with other Christians in Gospel-centered community together.

Praying with a Purpose

Since my first experience of cross-cultural missions (about 15 years ago), I have been inescapably drawn towards this sort of effort. I have had multiple opportunities for Gospel ministry in countries and cultures other than my own, and each time I teeter on the brink of selling everything I have and relocating my family to some distant land. The logistical realities and my wife’s soft reluctance have been sufficient to keep me from taking the radical plunge.

Like my prayer-life in general, my prayers for missional efforts are not systematic. I do pray regularly, and I am in prayerful thought for much of each day (not audibly, but cognitively relying upon God, thanking Him, pleading with Him, and such). However, my prayers are based on circumstance or a recent increase in awareness of some biblical truth. I learn of a friend’s difficulty, and I trust God’s providence while asking for His mercy. I feel the pressure of life upon my own shoulders, and I run to the refuge of God’s grace and care. I notice the temptation to sin and even indulge my evil desires, and I lament such foolishness while resting in God’s love and patience with me.

Similarly, I have also prayed for missional efforts sporadically, when I become aware of a particular effort or obstacle. Right now, I have spent some time praying for evangelistic efforts in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales. My church family and I have partnered with churches in the Vale for almost three years, and this week is the mission trip of 2017. I was not able to be present on this trip, but my heart and thoughts are with the rest of the team. However, I have become increasingly aware of the need for a more systematic approach to prayer (and all spiritual disciplines generally).

Using the resources at www.operationworld.com, I am reminded of the great need for Gospel ministry around the world and the great need for insulated Christians (like those in western cultures) to remember the real spiritual difficulties we all face. In my rural, East Texas community, it is highly unlikely that I will face religious persecution of any real substance. It is easy for me to fall into a rut in my thinking about Gospel mission and sacrificial engagement. A little spat between church members or some budgetary difficulty is put into better perspective when I remember that some Christians in the world right now are following Christ in the face of an imminent threat to their very lives.

With God’s help, and by His grace, I will take a more systematic approach to prayer from now on. I also plan to lead my family to do the same. May God grant us love for Him, that we may serve Him and others well.

Enjoying God in Prayer

The Valley of Vision is a collection of old prayers that exemplify intentionality, passion, and a Bible focus in prayer. The language can seem foreign to modern readers since it resembles a loftier tongue of days gone by. And yet, the content of these prayers is of such high quality that modern Christians will no doubt benefit from such examples.

Here is how I prayed, in my own words, the prayer entitled “God Enjoyed.”

Oh God, You are the incomprehensible and prayer-hearing God.

You are known and You are beyond knowledge, revealed but unrevealed; my wants and welfare compel me to bring these requests to You, for You have never said, “If you seek Me you will not find Me.”

To You, I come in my difficulties, my necessities, and my distresses; possess me with Yourself, with a spirit of grace and supplication, with a prayerful attitude of mind, and with access into warm fellowship, so that in the ordinary concerns of life my thoughts and desires may rise to You. In habitual devotion help me to find a resource that will soothe my sorrows, sanctify my successes, and qualify me in always for dealing with my fellowmen.

In habitual devotion help me to find a resource that will soothe my sorrows, sanctify my successes, and teach me to live well with others.

I bless You that You have made me capable of knowing You – the author of all being. You have given me the ability to resemble You – the perfection of all excellency. You have made me desirous of enjoying You – the source of all happiness.

Oh God, attend to me and accompany me in every part of my arduous and trying pilgrimage.

I need the same counsel, the same defense, and the same comfort that I found in You at my beginning.

Let my holiness and devotion to You be increasingly obvious to my conscience and more perceptible to those around me. While Jesus is representing me in heaven, may I reflect Him on earth; while He pleads my cause, may I show forth His praise.

Continue the gentleness of Your goodness towards me; and whether I wake or sleep let Your presence go with me, Your blessings attend me.

You have led me and I have found Your promises true; I have been sorrowful but You have been my help; I have been fearful but You have delivered me; I have been in despair but You have lifted me up.

Your promises are ever upon me, filling my mind and comforting my heart.

I praise You, O God.

A Prayer to the Great God

The Valley of Vision is a collection of old prayers that exemplify intentionality, passion, and a Bible focus in prayer. The language can seem foreign to modern readers since it resembles a loftier tongue of days gone by. And yet, the content of these prayers is of such high quality that modern Christians will no doubt benefit from such examples.

Here is how I prayed, in my own words, the prayer entitled “The Great God.”

My God and Father in heaven, oh fountainhead and spring of all good, destroy in me every lofty self-conception.

Break my pride to pieces and scatter it to the winds; annihilate each clinging shred of my own self-righteousness; implant in me true lowliness of spirit; bring me to the place of true self-loathing self-abhorrence; open within me a fountain of remorseful tears. Break me, and then bind those gracious wounds.

In this way prepare my heart as a dwelling place for You.

Then can You, my holy God and loving Father, take up residence in me; then can You, my Savior and the blessed Son, come with healing in Your touch; then can you, my convicting and comforting Holy Spirit, descend in sanctifying grace.

Holy and triune God, three persons in one God, inhabit me as a temple consecrated to Your glory.

When You are present, evil cannot abide; In Your fellowship is fullness of joy; Beneath Your smile is peace of conscience; By Your side, no fears will disturb, and no anxiety will banish peace of mind.

With You, my heart shall bloom with fragrance. Oh, God, make me suitable, through repentance, for Your indwelling.

Nothing exceeds Your power, nothing is too great for You to do, and nothing too good for You to give. Infinite is Your might, boundless Your love, limitless Your grace, and glorious Your saving name.

Let angels sing for sinners repenting, for prodigal sons restored, for backsliders reclaimed, for Satan’s captives released, for blind eyes opened, for broken hearts restored, for the despondent cheered, for the self-righteous stripped, for the hypocrite driven from a refuge of lies, for the ignorant enlightened, and for saints built up in their holy faith.

I ask these great things of a great God.

A Prayer to the Triune God

The Valley of Vision is a collection of old prayers that exemplify intentionality, passion, and a Bible focus in prayer. The language can seem foreign to modern readers since it resembles a loftier tongue of days gone by. And yet, the content of these prayers is of such high quality that modern Christians will no doubt benefit from such examples.

Here is how I prayed, in my own words, the prayer entitled “The Trinity.”

Heavenly Father, Blessed Son, Eternal Spirit, I adore You as one being, one essence, one God in three distinct persons. You bring sinners to Your knowledge and You welcome unworthy subjects into Your kingdom.

Father, You have loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me;

Jesus, You have loved me and assumed my nature, You shed Your own blood to wash away my sins, and You lived with perfect righteousness in order to cover my shameful rebellion;

Holy Spirit, You have loved me and entered my heart, You have given me eternal life, and You have made the glories of Christ known to me.

Three persons in one God, I bless and praise You, the triune God. You lavishly and scandalously give me love! Your love is so unmerited, so unspeakable, so wondrous, and so mighty to save the lost and raise them to glory.

Father, I thank You that in the fullness of grace You have given me to Jesus, to be His sheep, His jewel, and His reward;

Jesus, I thank You that in fullness of grace You have accepted me, espoused me, and bound me to Yourself;

Holy Spirit, I thank You that in the fullness of grace You have revealed Jesus as my salvation, implanted faith within my soul, subdued my stubborn heart, and made me one with Christ forever.

Father, You are enthroned to hear my prayers;

Jesus, Your hand is outstretched to take my cares and burdens;

Holy Spirit, You are willing to help my weaknesses, to show me my need, to supply me with words, to pray within me, and to strengthen me so that I will not grow weary in making my requests known to You.

Oh triune God, who commands the universe, You have commanded me to ask for those things that concern Your kingdom and my soul. Let me live and pray as one who has been baptized into Your threefold name – Father, Son, and Spirit.