If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. - 2 Chronicles 7:14-16
I'm really bad at praying. There's something about talking to someone who you can't see that makes you feel a little insane. I try to pray and my mind wanders to a million other things that I think I should be doing. I have to really make an effort to stay the course.
I was struck this week by some things that I read. Something that all of the sudden seemed so profound to me. I don't know why this week....why now. I have read these words before. They are the words that the apostle Paul wrote when he was telling people at the early churches how he had prayed for them. These were the people in his circle of influence. Those he had chosen to pour into, to teach, to mentor, to lead, to point toward Christ.
I don't know about you, but I feel like I am doing good if I get prayers up for my immediate family and I. How in the world am I supposed to pray for all of these other people in my life? Maybe if life weren't so busy....but no that's not it. I just struggle to have the heart for it (as awful as that sounds). It's a symptom of a lack of faith, I know.
Paul tells the people at every church he wrote to that he thanks God for them. Not only that, but he thanks God for the grace that has been given to them. He hurt when they were stumbling and suffering. He rejoiced when they were growing, strong, healthy people of God that were filled with the Holy Spirit.
When I have a email prayer request come to me for someone who is sick or struggling, I have a tendency to shoot up little one line prayers. "God I lift
so and so to you" or "God please be with so and so." They are half-hearted and hardly worth the 2 seconds of time that they took up. If I look at Paul as an example I can see much room for improvement. You can tell when Paul prayed that he was earnest and sincere. He prayed very specific prayers for the people. Prayer was a priority for him. He made the time not only to pray, but to pray from his whole heart prayers that were worth praying.
Here are some of the specific things that he prayed for the people...
-That God would clear the way for him to come to them and that he would be able to supply what was lacking in their faith
-That their love would increase and overflow for eachother
-That their hearts would be strengthened so they would be blameless and holy
-That God would fill them with the knowledge of his will through spiritual understanding
-That they may please God by bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God
-That they would be rooted in love and have power from the Holy Spirit to grasp how wide, long, high and deep is God's love
-That Christ would dwell in their hearts
-That they would know His love that surpasses all knowledge
-That they may be filled to the measure with the fullness of God
-That their love would abound more and more in knowledge and depth and of insight
-That they may be able to discern what is best
-That they may be pure and blameless
-That they may be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus
God give me the faith and a heart to pray for the people in my circle of influence like Paul did. I pray that when they are hurting you would break my heart too. I pray that when they are rejoicing you would fill my heart with joy and gladness as well. God give me the strength to make prayer a top priority in my life. Through the power of the holy spirit, I pray for the desire to pray for each person in my life with a real sincerity. Help me to pray specifically for them in areas where they may stuggle. Thank you for Paul's example. I pray that we can all learn from him. Make us more like Jesus, God. In His name I pray, Amen.