We are broken before God in the area of prayer. Sure, we often say, “I’ll pray for you” or “I need to pray about that,” but do we really do it? I’ve had times in life where I don’t intentionally make sure I pray for that other person or that situation. My guess is you’ve done that too.
Two passages relating to this are what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:9-15 and Luke 11:1-4. In the Luke passage, it starts with one of Jesus’s disciples asking Him to teach them how to pray. Does Jesus say, “I’ll pray about that for you” and leave? No! Right then and there He prays and teaches them this model. It’s a model for our own prayers too. We acknowledge who God is, we desire His will in our lives, we request His continued provision, and we ask for forgiveness and the strength to forgive others.
In John 11:38-44, we see the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus didn’t simply tell Mary and Martha He was sorry for their loss and leave, but He prayed right then and there and took action to raise Lazarus from the grave. While that capability of raising the dead may not apply to our lives, praying right then and there for a friend in need will have a powerful outcome.
I often have the opportunity to do pulpit supply at various churches (both CGGC and other denominations), and one thing that seems pretty consistent is that very few people are excited to pray aloud in front of others. (We had a joke in a small group I attended that when it was time for prayer, the ceiling and floor suddenly got interesting to look at!) Jesus does instruct us in Matthew 6:5-8, right before the Lord’s Prayer, that we not pray to be seen, but when our intentions are pure, communal prayer is a powerful thing. Praying in agreement with one another strengthens our prayers and our bond as a community of believers.
Often, we pray simply out of obligation. “Well, I told her I’d pray for her, so I’d better do it.” While the action is there, the posture of our heart isn’t right. Right before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He prayed, “I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:42).
We pray so that God may be glorified, whether that results in a miraculous healing or in a lack of healing that may lead another to faith in Christ.
Pray with me (yes, right now):
God, I pray that your Spirit would help me overcome any fears and hesitations I have regarding prayer. I thank you for being a gracious God who wants to hear from His children and that You will always listen to me. I pray that you would guide my heart to be excited to pray in accordance with Your will. In the name of Jesus, Amen.