Archive for September, 2018

Too much to pray for!


Renowned Scottish theologian Oswald Chambers said, ‘Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work. Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work. In the teachings of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me, which produces the miracle of redemption in others, through the power of God.’

The older I grow, the more it seems like I have more to pray for than I can handle.  Is this is a common dilemma for Christians as they grow older?  I’d like to hear from readers who share the same or a similar problem.  

My prayer list is getting too long to manage.  It includes numerous categories including family (spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, in-laws and extended family members); friends; colleagues at work; clergy; those persecuted for their Christian faith; my church; my former churches; local leaders; state leaders; national leaders; military service members; and even the abused and missing children on the evening TV network news.  Where should I begin praying on a prayer like this?

 I’ve tried ‘checklist’ praying–simply going down the list and asking God’s blessing for each category, but that feels very hollow. I’ve tried lifting up specific prayers for everyone and everything on the list, but my ability to concentrate usually fails after five or 10 minutes into the prayers.  I’ve segmented my prayers to pray for one category at a time on my prayer list.

When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray, he gave them (and us) the ‘Lord’s Prayer’. It’s a beautiful model for praying, but should not be the only prayer we pray; one of the purposes of prayer is simply for us to be with God and to listen and experience the glory of his presence. Our Lord’s prayer goes like this:

Our Father who are in heaven (recognition of God’s supreme authority in all creation),

Hallowed be thy name (affirmation of God’s perfect nature),

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven (a petition for God to restore the perfect order on Earth that he has intended since creation),

Give us this day our daily bread (recognition that God sustains us),

And forgive us our trespasses (a plea for God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ),

As we forgive those who trespass against us (an acknowledgement that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God and a reminder to forgive others),

And lead us not into temptation (a plea to God to spare us from testing, as Job, Jesus and so many Christian martyrs have been tested),

But deliver us from evil (protect us from Satanic forces),

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and glory forever, amen (a final acknowledgement of God’s supreme authority in all creation).

The Lord’s Prayer is a beautiful way to begin or end any prayer! 

St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans (8:26-27) tells us, ‘…We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God (NIV).’  I try to apply this wisdom when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  Sometimes my daily prayer is simply, “Holy Spirit, please pray for me and my family.”  I also pray this prayer for individuals, when I feel troubled about/for them, but I don’t know how to pray for them.

One thing I’ve learned is not to pray too much for myself.  When I do pray for myself, it usually entails asking God for forgiveness.  Psalm 51 and the Lord’s Prayer are my ‘go to’ prayers when I pray for myself. They are more than sufficient!

So how should we pray?  I would love to hear your comments and ideas on prayer. Please consider leaving a comment. 

To Be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.    —Martin Luther