You beg, You whimper. You load God down with empty praise. You tell him sins that he already knows full well. You seek to change his changeless will...And sometimes, by God's grace, a prayer is heard. - Frederick Buechner
The paradox of prayer is that it asks for a serious effort while it can only be received as a gift. We cannot plan, organize or manipulate God but without a careful discipline, we cannot receive him either. - Henri Nouwen.
To hear an audio of Session 6 click on the YouTube link below.
To purchase a copy of the book click this LINK or the picture at the end of the notes.
The language of prayer, yearning for fluency, and the grammar of prayer
You beg, You whimper. You load God down with empty praise. You tell him sins that he already knows full well. You seek to change his changeless will...And sometimes, by God's grace, a prayer is heard. - Frederick Buechner
The paradox of prayer is that it asks for a serious effort while it can only be received as a gift. We cannot plan, organize or manipulate God but without a careful discipline, we cannot receive him either. - Henri Nouwen.
Many if not most Christians have always been taught that we need to pray. We talk about pray without ceasing. We should pray about any and everything. Your parents may have even made you pray at night or a dinner even when you didn’t want to. My grandmother did that with me with reading the Bible every day. Often prayer becomes just an exercise that we think we have to do in order to be a good Christian, to make sure that God doesn’t get upset with us and when we are in trouble we pray for relief. There is nothing wrong with any of that but if it is just an exercise does it have any value?
Have you ever tried to get into a routine of praying at a certain time every day either morning or evening and found yourself making excuses for not doing it? I’m late for work, or I have a lot to do today, or I had a very long day and I’m really too tired to do a half-hour in prayer. Even if we do force ourselves to get into a routine how many times have you fallen asleep praying?
If you were made to pray you might find yourself like the two guys at Bible college who were told that they had to spend a quiet time every day from 6:00 to 6:30 during which time they were to read the Bible and pray. The story was that once a dean went into a room and when he turned on the light one of the fellows was on his knees and the other sitting on the bad with his Bible open but both of them were sleep.
Sometimes when we are trying to impress someone or fool them about our prayer life and our lives in general we will actually embellish our prayers. I have the spiritual gift of discernment and sometimes I can tell that when a person is praying that they are not sincere, telling the truth, or being phoney. There are some examples in our book.
At one of the prayer and testimony services, Philip’s roommate confessed a a series of wild escapades that he knew he was embellishing. People often get sympathy, or praise through dramatic public confession and repentance. Another student asked prayer for his girlfriend, critically injured in an auto accident while driving to see him. This guy was gay and didn’t even have a girlfriend. I’m sure that we have all heard prayers or prayer requests which are nothing but a way to get attention and sympathy. We have to be careful that we don’t do the same things.
It was interesting that Philip admitted that there was a time of about a year when he couldn’t even come up with the things to say in prayer. During that year he read prayers and asked God to accept them as his prayers. Throughout the Psalms there are many of them that we can read as prayers and that’s fine but we shouldn’t just do this and not open up to God. I think the reason people do this is we are afraid to really open up. We have a personal relationship with God who wants us to realize that He is our friend and that we can talk to Him any time about anything.
LIke Philip I wonder how some people can spend an hour or more in prayer. I honestly don’t think that I have ever spent a solid hour in prayer. I like to think I pray without ceasing but never spending a solid hour in prayer. Like him I strain to spend 15 minutes. I get distracted and lose concentration.
So We He To Adjust our Expectations
What really are our expectation from prayer? Do we expect God to answer every prayer? Do we expect to hear from Him while we are praying? Do we think anybody is listening? If nothing happens we often blame ourselves thinking that we are not praying right. I’ve heard that from Christians. They say when their prayers aren't answered right away, "maybe I’m not praying right or maybe I don’t know how to pray."
If we are honest we would probably say that prayer is not easy or rewarding. One of Philip’s friend’s compared prayer to sex in the book.
“I think prayer is analogous to sex. Most people would complain about their sex lives and few do really well. Sex and prayer are intimate and over-glamorized relationships. We all are led to believe that we should be in the stratosphere in sex and in prayer. It sets up a false expectation. And breaks down intimacy.
In order to have great intimacy in sex you need to be relaxed. You can’t be all tensed up from the day and worry about tomorrow. That may be why so many women tell their husbands, “I have a headache”. Same thing with prayer you need to get into a quiet position not stressed or tensed up which could be a problem sometimes, because we often don’t pray until we are in a situation that causes anxiety.
LIke sex, prayer centers in relationship more than on technique, and the differences between the two parties in prayer are far more profound than the difference between two lovers.
So the question is how do we learn to speak the same language as God?
John 4:24 (NKJV)24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
Romans 8:26 (NKJV)26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
If you want to get better at anything we have to practice over and over and over. We have to work at it. When they talk about singing a certain genre in music you have to work on your technique over and over and over. The same thing is true of prayer. Remember we have said in this study that Jesus encourages us to always pray and be persistent in our praying. Mother Teresa said “If you want to pray better, you must pray more.”
My experience is the same as the English preacher Leslie Weatherhead;
“I have always found prayer difficult. So often it seems like a fruitless game of hide and seek in which we seek and God hides. I know God is very patient with me. Without that patience I should be lost. But frankly I have to be patient with him. With no other friend would I go on seeking with such scant, conscious response. Yet I cannot leave prayer alone for long. My need drives me to him. And I have a feeling that he has his own reasons for hiding himself, and that finally my seeking will prove infinitely worthwhile...I long for more satisfaction, but I cannot cease from questing. Jesus sometimes found prayer difficult. Some of his most agonized prayers were not answered. But he did not give up his praying. I frankly have little to show for all my prayers, but I cannot give up, for “my soul longeth for God,” and I know that outside God there is nothing at all but death.
The time that we spend with God can be more than just a moment of spiritual ecstasy, just like sex, but it can equip you for the rest of your life, and life is real.
Prayer invites God into our world and us into His.
Psalms is full of prayers of David and others. Those prayers demonstrate that prayer doesn’t mean closing your eyes to the realities of life. Those prayers range from dealing with problems, emotions, personality conflicts, and they ask God to deliver them and provide a new perspective on life.
There is no emotion anyone will experience that is not reflected in the Psalms.” Fear, praise, anxiety, anger, love, sorrow, despair, gratitude, grief,
doubt, suffering, joy, vengeance, repentance — every human emotion and experience surges to the surface in the prayer-poems of Psalms.
Choosing a Routine
If you are going to practice something or work on your technique you need to set up a schedule and a routine so that you do it everyday and hopefully at the same time everyday.
That takes discipline and the willingness to prioritize things according to their importance. It doesn't mean that your schedule and routine don’t change because your life changes. So when you have a life change, change the routine, so that you continue to work on your technique. It is good to look at how somebody else does it but do what works for you. Your routine shouldn’t be like mine or mine yours because we’re different. We just need to be consistent.
Much of the benefit of prayer comes from consistency. If we show up God will show up, and when He does we want to make sure that we hear Him.
Sometimes that means going to a special place to pray. A lot of us saw the movie War Room where the ladies fixed up a closet with Scripture and some other things. Now remember those things have no power they just help calm you down and maybe help structure your time of prayer.
It really doesn’t matter how you do it but consistency in prayer is important although it’s also important to also be free and spontaneous. Spontaneity is great but not is not regular and the same would hold with prayer if you only do it spontaneously. If you have a regular prayer routine you might find that what happens is that you actually find new things to talk about, but if you don’t have a regular prayer time that may not happen because you feel guilty about not praying and those make up prayers may be more formal and without much passion at all you will just be doing something because you think that you have to.
Many people don’t pray because they don’t think they know how to pray. One of the things that happened early on the Prayerline was that Minister Brenda talked about how to approach prayer. Philip says, and I agree, that to enjoy spending time in prayer you need help in learning how to pray. Learning to pray is really like learning any new thing you need something or someone to teach or train you. The disciples likely knew all the Jewish prayers yet they asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
If you are going to France and really want to enjoy yourself you should learn to speak French. It’s the same idea that if you want to enjoy your time with God who is spirit that you should learn how to speak His language, so to speak.
The Bible is a good instruction manual on prayer in that it provides hundreds of examples or illustrations. There are around 650 prayers in the Bible covering all sorts of circumstances.
The Lord’s Prayer is a good guide. You can take it and expand the words that Jesus taught and follow the same pattern and thought idea. There are hundreds of books that use the Lord’s prayer to instruct in how to pray.
Let’s look at how Philip does that.
Or Father, Who art in heaven - Start prayer with an awareness of the relationship.
Hallowed be your name - Recognize and honor God’s perfection and holiness
Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven - Use me in your kingdom use me to bless others just as you used Jesus to show others who you are.
Give us today our daily bread - I’m not promised anything beyond today so I’m asking for nourishment for both body and soul and I’m not worried about the future.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors - Remind me of my true state so I’m asking and thanking you for forgiving me and give me the same attitude of forgiveness toward others.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one - Make me alert to temptations and make me strong to resist.
I already mentioned the Psalms. Every human emotion and experience in included in the Psalms. There’s fear, praise, anxiety, anger, love, sorrow, despair, gratitude, grief, doubt, suffering, joy, vengeance, repentance, on and on.
You can make a psalm you prayer. Substitute yourself in the place where the writer refers to himself.
Defeat My Enemies
Psalm 109:1-31 (NKJV)1 Do not keep silent, O God of my praise!2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful Have opened against me; They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.3 They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, And fought against me without a cause.4 In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer.5 Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for my love.6 Set a wicked man over him, And let an accuser stand at his right hand.7 When he is judged, let him be found guilty, And let his prayer become sin.8 Let his days be few, And let another take his office.9 Let his children be fatherless, And his wife a widow.10 Let his children continually be vagabonds, and beg; Let them seek their bread also from their desolate places.11 Let the creditor seize all that he has, And let strangers plunder his labor.12 Let there be none to extend mercy to him, Nor let there be any to favor his fatherless children.13 Let his posterity be cut off, And in the generation following let their name be blotted out.14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, And let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.15 Let them be continually before the LORD, That He may cut off the memory of them from the earth;16 Because he did not remember to show mercy, But persecuted the poor and needy man, That he might even slay the broken in heart.17 As he loved cursing, so let it come to him; As he did not delight in blessing, so let it be far from him.18 As he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, So let it enter his body like water, And like oil into his bones.19 Let it be to him like the garment which covers him, And for a belt with which he girds himself continually.20 Let this be the LORD'S reward to my accusers, And to those who speak evil against my person.21 But You, O GOD the Lord, Deal with me for Your name's sake; Because Your mercy is good, deliver me.22 For I am poor and needy, And my heart is wounded within me.
23 I am gone like a shadow when it lengthens; I am shaken off like a locust.24 My knees are weak through fasting, And my flesh is feeble from lack of fatness.25 I also have become a reproach to them; When they look at me, they shake their heads.26 Help me, O LORD my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy,27 That they may know that this is Your hand-- That You, LORD, have done it!28 Let them curse, but You bless; When they arise, let them be ashamed, But let Your servant rejoice.29 Let my accusers be clothed with shame, And let them cover themselves with their own disgrace as with a mantle.30 I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; Yes, I will praise Him among the multitude.31 For He shall stand at the right hand of the poor, To save him from those who condemn him.
Prayer of Despair
Psalm 88:1-18 (NLT) O LORD, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night.2 Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry.3 For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near.4 I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left.5 They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave. I am forgotten, cut off from your care.6 You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths.7 Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave you have engulfed me. Interlude8 You have driven my friends away by making me repulsive to them. I am in a trap with no way of escape.9 My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for your help, O LORD; I lift my hands to you for mercy.10 Are your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead? Do the dead rise up and praise you? Interlude11 Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love? Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction?12 Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds? Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness?13 O LORD, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day.14 O LORD, why do you reject me? Why do you turn your face from me?15 I have been sick and close to death since my youth. I stand helpless and desperate before your terrors.16 Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have paralyzed me.17 They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long. They have engulfed me completely.18 You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend.
Psalm 51:1-19 (NLT)1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice.9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.18 Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
Psalm 118:1-29 (NLT)1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.2 Let all Israel repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.”3 Let Aaron’s descendants, the priests, repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.”4 Let all who fear the LORD repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.”5 In my distress I prayed to the LORD, and the LORD answered me and set me free.6 The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?7 Yes, the LORD is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me.8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people.9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.10 Though hostile nations surrounded me, I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD.11 Yes, they surrounded and attacked me, but I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD.12 They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire. But I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD.13 My enemies did their best to kill me, but the LORD rescued me.14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.15 Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things!16 The strong right arm of the LORD is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things!17 I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the LORD has done.18 The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not let me die.19 Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the LORD.20 These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there.21 I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory!22 The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.23 This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.24 This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.25 Please, LORD, please save us. Please, LORD, please give us success.26 Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD.27 The LORD is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.28 You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you!29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 150:1-6 (NLT)1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven!2 Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!3 Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp!4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes!5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!
The only one of Paul’s letters that does not have at least one prayer is Titus. Paul’s prayers are for the most part for others. He prays for the believers . Most of his recorded prayers are for others and their well being although we know that he faced many trials and tribulations.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NLT)14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,
15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
Philippians 1:9-11 (NLT)9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
Colossians 1:9-12 (NLT)9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.
2 Timothy 1:16-18 (NLT)16 May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains.17 When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me.18 May the Lord show him special kindness on the day of Christ’s return. And you know very well how helpful he was in Ephesus.
Remember that prayer is talking to God. Anytime that we talk to God it is prayer so here are some other prayers in the Bible that can give us some instruction in how we can talk to God about anything.
- Genesis 18 - Abraham’s plea for Sodom
- Exodus 15 - Moses’ song to the Lord - Exodus 15:1-18 (NLT)1 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD: “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea.2 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!3 The LORD is a warrior; Yahweh is his name!4 Pharaoh’s chariots and army he has hurled into the sea. The finest of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea.5 The deep waters gushed over them; they sank to the bottom like a stone.6 “Your right hand, O LORD, is glorious in power. Your right hand, O LORD, smashes the enemy.7 In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrow those who rise against you. You unleash your blazing fury; it consumes them like straw.8 At the blast of your breath, the waters piled up! The surging waters stood straight like a wall; in the heart of the sea the deep waters became hard.9 “The enemy boasted, ‘I will chase them and catch up with them. I will plunder them and consume them. I will flash my sword; my powerful hand will destroy them.’10 But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.11 “Who is like you among the gods, O LORD— glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?12 You raised your right hand, and the earth swallowed our enemies.13 “With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed. In your might, you guide them to your sacred home.14 The peoples hear and tremble; anguish grips those who live in Philistia.15 The leaders of Edom are terrified; the nobles of Moab tremble. All who live in Canaan melt away;16 terror and dread fall upon them. The power of your arm makes them lifeless as stone until your people pass by, O LORD, until the people you purchased pass by.17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain— the place, O LORD, reserved for your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.18 The LORD will reign forever and ever!”
- Exodus 33- Moses meets with God -
- Exodus 33:12-23 (NLT)12 One day Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’13 If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”14 The LORD replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”15 Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.16 How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”17 The LORD replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.”18 Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.”19 The LORD replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.20 But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.”21 The LORD continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock.22 As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.23 Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.”
- 2 Samuel 7 - David’s response to God’s promises
2 Samuel 7:18-29 (NLT2)18 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and prayed, “Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?19 And now, Sovereign LORD, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting dynasty! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign LORD?20 “What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign LORD.21 Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant.22 “How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!23 What other nation on earth is like your people Israel? What other nation, O God, have you redeemed from slavery to be your own people? You made a great name for yourself when you redeemed your people from Egypt. You performed awesome miracles and drove out the nations and gods that stood in their way.24 You made Israel your very own people forever, and you, O LORD, became their God.25 “And now, O LORD God, I am your servant; do as you have promised concerning me and my family. Confirm it as a promise that will last forever.26 And may your name be honored forever so that everyone will say, ‘The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is God over Israel!’ And may the house of your servant David continue before you forever.27 “O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, I have been bold enough to pray this prayer to you because you have revealed all this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you—a dynasty of kings!’28 For you are God, O Sovereign LORD. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant.29 And now, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you have spoken, and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign LORD, it is an eternal blessing!”
- 1 King 8 - Solomon’s dedication of the temple
1 Kings 8:22-53 (NLT2)22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the entire community of Israel. He lifted his hands toward heaven,23 and he prayed, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion.24 You have kept your promise to your servant David, my father. You made that promise with your own mouth, and with your own hands you have fulfilled it today.25 “And now, O LORD, God of Israel, carry out the additional promise you made to your servant David, my father. For you said to him, ‘If your descendants guard their behavior and faithfully follow me as you have done, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’26 Now, O God of Israel, fulfill this promise to your servant David, my father.27 “But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!28 Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you today.29 May you watch over this Temple night and day, this place where you have said, ‘My name will be there.’ May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place.30 May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.31 “If someone wrongs another person and is required to take an oath of innocence in front of your altar in this Temple,32 then hear from heaven and judge between your servants—the accuser and the accused. Punish the guilty as they deserve. Acquit the innocent because of their innocence.33 “If your people Israel are defeated by their enemies because they have sinned against you, and if they turn to you and acknowledge your name and pray to you here in this Temple,34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and return them to this land you gave their ancestors.35 “If the skies are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and if they pray toward this Temple and acknowledge your name and turn from their sins because you have punished them,36 then hear from heaven and forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them to follow the right path, and send rain on your land that you have given to your people as their special possession.37 “If there is a famine in the land or a plague or crop disease or attacks of locusts or caterpillars, or if your people’s enemies are in the land besieging their towns—whatever disaster or disease there is--38 and if your people Israel pray about their troubles, raising their hands toward this Temple,39 then hear from heaven where you live, and forgive. Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart.40 Then they will fear you as long as they live in the land you gave to our ancestors.41 “In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands because of your name,42 for they will hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple,43 then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built honors your name.44 “If your people go out where you send them to fight their enemies, and if they pray to the LORD by turning toward this city you have chosen and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name,45 then hear their prayers from heaven and uphold their cause.46 “If they sin against you—and who has never sinned?—you might become angry with them and let their enemies conquer them and take them captive to their land far away or near.47 But in that land of exile, they might turn to you in repentance and pray, ‘We have sinned, done evil, and acted wickedly.’48 If they turn to you with their whole heart and soul in the land of their enemies and pray toward the land you gave to their ancestors—toward this city you have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name--49 then hear their prayers and their petition from heaven where you live, and uphold their cause.50 Forgive your people who have sinned against you. Forgive all the offenses they have committed against you. Make their captors merciful to them,51 for they are your people—your special possession—whom you brought out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt.52 “May your eyes be open to my requests and to the requests of your people Israel. May you hear and answer them whenever they cry out to you.53 For when you brought our ancestors out of Egypt, O Sovereign LORD, you told your servant Moses that you had set Israel apart from all the nations of the earth to be your own special possession.”
- 2 Chronicles 20:5-30 - Jehoshaphat prays for victory
2 Chronicles 20:5-12 (NLT2)5 Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the LORD.6 He prayed, “O LORD, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!7 O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham?8 Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name.9 They said, ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war, plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.’10 “And now see what the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir are doing. You would not let our ancestors invade those nations when Israel left Egypt, so they went around them and did not destroy them.11 Now see how they reward us! For they have come to throw us out of your land, which you gave us as an inheritance.12 O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.”
- Ezra 9 - Ezra’s prayer for the people’s sins
Ezra 9:6-15 (NLT2)6 I prayed, “O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens.7 From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin. That is why we and our kings and our priests have been at the mercy of the pagan kings of the land. We have been killed, captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today.8 “But now we have been given a brief moment of grace, for the LORD our God has allowed a few of us to survive as a remnant. He has given us security in this holy place. Our God has brightened our eyes and granted us some relief from our slavery.9 For we were slaves, but in his unfailing love our God did not abandon us in our slavery. Instead, he caused the kings of Persia to treat us favorably. He revived us so we could rebuild the Temple of our God and repair its ruins. He has given us a protective wall in Judah and Jerusalem.10 “And now, O our God, what can we say after all of this? For once again we have abandoned your commands!11 Your servants the prophets warned us when they said, ‘The land you are entering to possess is totally defiled by the detestable practices of the people living there. From one end to the other, the land is filled with corruption.12 Don’t let your daughters marry their sons! Don’t take their daughters as wives for your sons. Don’t ever promote the peace and prosperity of those nations. If you follow these instructions, you will be strong and will enjoy the good things the land produces, and you will leave this prosperity to your children forever.’13 “Now we are being punished because of our wickedness and our great guilt. But we have actually been punished far less than we deserve, for you, our God, have allowed some of us to survive as a remnant.14 But even so, we are again breaking your commands and intermarrying with people who do these detestable things. Won’t your anger be enough to destroy us, so that even this little remnant no longer survives?15 O LORD, God of Israel, you are just. We come before you in our guilt as nothing but an escaped remnant, though in such a condition none of us can stand in your presence.”
- Psalm 22 - A cry to God of help
Psalm 22:1-31 (NLT2)1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?2 Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.4 Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them.5 They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced.6 But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all!7 Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
8 “Is this the one who relies on the LORD? Then let the LORD save him! If the LORD loves him so much, let the LORD rescue him!”9 Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.10 I was thrust into your arms at my birth. You have been my God from the moment I was born.11 Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me.12 My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls; fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!13 Like lions they open their jaws against me, roaring and tearing into their prey.14 My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me.15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.17 I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat.18 They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.19 O LORD, do not stay far away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!20 Save me from the sword; spare my precious life from these dogs.21 Snatch me from the lion’s jaws and from the horns of these wild oxen.22 I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people.23 Praise the LORD, all you who fear him! Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob! Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!24 For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.25 I will praise you in the great assembly. I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you.26 The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the LORD will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.27 The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him.28 For royal power belongs to the LORD. He rules all the nations.29 Let the rich of the earth feast and worship. Bow before him, all who are mortal, all whose lives will end as dust.30 Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.31 His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done.
- Psalm 104 - A prayer of praise
Psalm 104:1-35 (NLT2)1 Let all that I am praise the LORD. O LORD my God, how great you are! You are robed with honor and majesty.2 You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens;3 you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds. You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind.4 The winds are your messengers; flames of fire are your servants.5 You placed the world on its foundation so it would never be moved.6 You clothed the earth with floods of water, water that covered even the mountains.7 At your command, the water fled; at the sound of your thunder, it hurried away.8 Mountains rose and valleys sank to the levels you decreed.9 Then you set a firm boundary for the seas, so they would never again cover the earth.10 You make springs pour water into the ravines, so streams gush down from the mountains.11 They provide water for all the animals, and the wild donkeys quench their thirst.12 The birds nest beside the streams and sing among the branches of the trees.13 You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home, and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor.14 You cause grass to grow for the livestock and plants for people to use. You allow them to produce food from the earth--15 wine to make them glad, olive oil to soothe their skin, and bread to give them strength.16 The trees of the LORD are well cared for— the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.17 There the birds make their nests, and the storks make their homes in the cypresses.18 High in the mountains live the wild goats, and the rocks form a refuge for the hyraxes.19 You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to set.20 You send the darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals prowl about.21 Then the young lions roar for their prey, stalking the food provided by God.22 At dawn they slink back into their dens to rest.23 Then people go off to their work, where they labor until evening.24 O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.25 Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small.26 See the ships sailing along, and Leviathan, which you made to play in the sea.27 They all depend on you to give them food as they need it.28 When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied.29 But if you turn away from them, they panic. When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust.30 When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.31 May the glory of the LORD continue forever! The LORD takes pleasure in all he has made!32 The earth trembles at his glance; the mountains smoke at his touch.33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!34 May all my thoughts be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.35 Let all sinners vanish from the face of the earth; let the wicked disappear forever. Let all that I am praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!
- Daniel 9 - Daniel’s prayer for the salvation of Jerusalem
Daniel 9:4-19 (NLT2)4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands.5 But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations.6 We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land.7 “Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you.
8 O LORD, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.9 But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.10 We have not obeyed the LORD our God, for we have not followed the instructions he gave us through his servants the prophets.11 All Israel has disobeyed your instruction and turned away, refusing to listen to your voice. “So now the solemn curses and judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured down on us because of our sin.12 You have kept your word and done to us and our rulers exactly as you warned. Never has there been such a disaster as happened in Jerusalem.13 Every curse written against us in the Law of Moses has come true. Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the LORD our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth.14 Therefore, the LORD has brought upon us the disaster he prepared. The LORD our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey him.15 “O Lord our God, you brought lasting honor to your name by rescuing your people from Egypt in a great display of power. But we have sinned and are full of wickedness.16 In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.17 “O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.18 “O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.19 “O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name.”
- Habakkuk 3 - A prophet's prayer of acceptance
Habakkuk 3:1-19 (NLT2)1 This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk:2 I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy.3 I see God moving across the deserts from Edom, the Holy One coming from Mount Paran. His brilliant splendor fills the heavens, and the earth is filled with his praise.4 His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise. Rays of light flash from his hands, where his awesome power is hidden.5 Pestilence marches before him; plague follows close behind.6 When he stops, the earth shakes. When he looks, the nations tremble. He shatters the everlasting mountains and levels the eternal hills. He is the Eternal One!7 I see the people of Cushan in distress, and the nation of Midian trembling in terror.8 Was it in anger, LORD, that you struck the rivers and parted the sea? Were you displeased with them? No, you were sending your chariots of salvation!9 You brandished your bow and your quiver of arrows. You split open the earth with flowing rivers.10 The mountains watched and trembled. Onward swept the raging waters. The mighty deep cried out, lifting its hands to the LORD.11 The sun and moon stood still in the sky as your brilliant arrows flew and your glittering spear flashed.12 You marched across the land in anger and trampled the nations in your fury.13 You went out to rescue your chosen people, to save your anointed ones. You crushed the heads of the wicked and stripped their bones from head to toe.14 With his own weapons, you destroyed the chief of those who rushed out like a whirlwind, thinking Israel would be easy prey.15 You trampled the sea with your horses, and the mighty waters piled high.16 I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us.17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. (For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)
- John 17 - Jesus’ prayer for his disciples
The entire chapter
- Nehemiah has a number of prayers
Once you have looked at these and other prayers in the bible and you want more tools there is the prayer acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication)
Taking the acronym you can simplify it with this.
- Adoration - Jesus is here -
Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT)19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
- Confession - Help me Lord -
James 5:16-17 (NLT)16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!
- Thanksgiving - Thank you Lord -
Philippians 4:4-7 (NLT)4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
- Supplication (the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly)-
Matthew 26:39 (NLT2)39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
The bottom line is not the words or the place or the time the most important thing is remembering to pray. We have been talking a lot about praying without ceasing and pastor preached a sermon a few weeks ago on how we could do that and this is the kind of thing that he talked about. Lying awake at night, unable to sleep, taking a shower or bath, driving, waiting for the computer to boot up, waiting for the elevator, standing in line, exercising (I take a long walk on Tuesdays). Sitting through a long boring speech or sermon lol.
For next week read chapters 14 and 15, tongue-tied and the sound of silence. Then we going to try to get through the Prayer Dilemmas section which is chapters `6-19.