"As I was encouraged by her faithful prayers, I also began to think about how I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ. So often, we pray for circumstances, for safety, for healing, for relief of pain or suffering, for provision, for our own wants and desires, and the list goes on… Praying for these things is not necessarily wrong, we are to bring all our requests before God, and that goes from the largest of things to the very smallest! However, how often do I pray for them as Paul prayed for the saints in Philippi or Colossi or Thessalonica or Rome or Corinth and no doubt all of those that he ministered to in his lifetime?? I just wanted to write down for myself how Paul prayed to serve as a reminder to myself and hopefully as an encouragement to you of how I ought to pray for the beloved in Christ!
One of the first thing that sticks out to me as I read through the Pauline epistles and the prayers that they contain, is that Paul is not shy about telling the saints that he is praying for them. I know that for myself, there is never a more encouraging thing to hear from a fellow believer than the words "I was praying for you" or "I have been praying for you". I think that we need to, not only be faithful to pray for each other but to also share that with those that we are praying for that they may be encouraged and strengthened by the knowledge.
A second thing that stuck out to me is the frequency with which Paul prays, he uses words such as "always" (Romans 1:10, II Thessalonians 1:11, I Corinthians 1:4) "unceasingly" and "do not cease" and "have not ceased" (Romans 1:9, Ephesians 1:16, Colossians 1:9) and in II Timothy 1:3 says "I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day". How many of us could say that? How many of us could honestly tell our brothers and sisters in Christ that we do not cease to pray for them, that we pray for them always, that we remember them in our prayers day and night? This, too, was convicting to me.
Now to the meat of the matter: for what things does Paul pray for them?
Well he starts out very often by thanking God for them and for the grace God has given to them, (I Corinthians 1:4, 2 Timothy 1:3), many of his letters open with these sentiments. So firstly I need to thank God for my brothers and sisters in Christ that He has given me, for their grace and faith, which is praise ultimately to the God who gave them these.
In II Corinthians 13:7-9 Paul prays that the Corinthian believers would do no wrong, but that they would do what is right, and that they would be complete.
In Ephesians 1:16-19 Paul prays that God would grant to the believers a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened: to know the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power towards those who believe.
In Philippians 1:9-11 Paul prays that our love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment - in order that: we may approve what is excellent, and be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.
In Colossians 1:9-12 Paul prays that we will be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding - SO THAT: we may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all respects, bear fruit, increase in the knowledge of God, be strengthened with all power (according to His glorious might!), attain all steadfastness and patience, and joyously give thanks to our Father!
In I Thessalonians 5:23-24 Pauls prays that we would be sanctified entirely, that our spirit, soul, and body be preserved complete and without blame. He then states the obvious: "Faithful is He who called you, and He will also bring it to pass". Basically: your prayer is already answered :-)
In II Thessalonians 1:11-12: That God will count us worthy of our calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power. SO THAT: God will be glorified in us and we in Him!
In II Thessalonians 3:16: That God would continually grant us peace in every circumstance! Not deliverance from our circumstances, but peace in them.
And lastly in Hebrews 13:20-21: Equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight!
I just had to share that entire verse!! If any of us ever doubted (and we do) that God is able, Paul reminds us that our God is a God of peace, who raised Christ from the dead! Surely if He has done that, He can do this!
I love too how Paul's prayers are laced with doctrine and confidence in the One to whom He is praying! His requests and praises occur simultaneously and one naturally flows into the other, I need to learn to pray in this way!