A Key to Vibrant Prayer

We are not desperate to pray because we are self-deceived. We are blind to our depravity. We don’t see ourselves as we really are. Do you want to learn to pray more? Learn of your sin. Ask God to show it to you, to give you a glimpse of your need. Ask him to show you what your sin cost him. Look at the cross again and again until you can say, “Lord, I’m so sinful, so weak, so deceived. Please, God, don’t let a day go by without reminding me of this. Make me dependent.”

Then, in faith, draw near knowing that you have needed cleansing but have been cleansed. Know that you have deserved wrath but have been fully loved. Sit down with your Beloved and hear him speak to you. Unburden your heart before him. Have fellowship with your heavenly husband. Be fully assured; he loves you when you pray, and he loves you when you don’t. You’re his bride when you hide from him, when you ignore him, when you think he doesn’t really care. Run, now, to the lover of your soul.

~ Elyse Fitzpatrick, Comforts from the Cross

The Prayers of Paul

In one sense, prayer is the simplest thing in the world. People have been talking to God from the beginning, without instruction and without method. We have praised Him, cursed Him, begged Him, and bargained with Him. We tell Him to send the rains, heal the sick, give us jobs, prove He exists, and explain Himself. We do this naturally, artlessly, because we feel like it. There is nothing complicated about such prayer.

The Bible, however, speaks of prayer in ways that are far from simple. The Lord’s Prayer, that model of brevity, has generated enough commentaries to fill libraries, and for good reason. Jesus and the other biblical authors saw prayer as more than just talking to God; prayer is an expression, a reflection, of our hearts. In the Bible, admonitions to pray are really admonitions to embrace the truth: about God, our neighbor, our world, ourselves. Do we know our real problem? Do we know who can fix it? Do we know what is truly valuable and worth having? If we do, then our prayers will reflect this.

The prayers of the apostle Paul are a wonderful example of Christian maturity expressed through prayer. In most of the letters he wrote, Paul included a prayer for his readers. Paul’s prayers are touching, profound, eloquent, and loving; in addition, however, they are a guide to us in our own journey of faith. Paul’s heart was fixed on the essential things, things which are true and important and indispensable. Paul’s prayers, then, become a mirror in which we can examine ourselves, asking whether our concerns are anywhere close to Paul’s.

In what follows I haven’t the space or inclination to make interpretive arguments concerning these passages. I want to paint with a broad brush, reminding us of the great truths contained in the prayers of Paul.

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