You may know them as Prayer Chains, or a Prayer Wall where requests and concerns are brought so that many can lift them to God…or maybe you’re part of a Prayer Warrior Group that regularly unite in focused prayer on behalf of others. Here Paul is thanking Believers for their continued prayers, telling them that he knows their prayers have rescued him from many dangers. He looks at these answered prayers of God’s grace in his life with hope and gratefulness…knowing those praying for him are praising God also. For the beauty of answered prayers is that they touch everyone….those who pray and those who were prayed for.
Sometimes our prayers sound more like a toddler in a toy store…”I want that, and that, and that, and Oh, that!” God willingly listens to all our wishes and desires, but only He knows what we really need. And sometimes what we want and what we need are very far apart. So just remember, God understands and loves you far more than you can ever imagine…that only He can see “around the corner” of the future…and that He has only your best interest at heart. God may not give you everything you want, but He will give you everything you need.
Praying shouldn’t be a publicity stunt for the cameras while seeking 15 minutes of fame. For it’s our personal, intimate conversation with God…and He takes prayer very seriously…and so should we. As a Believer, I’ve seen the power of prayer and witnessed how intercessory prayer can literally change the atmosphere. But we tend to think of prayer as some sweet little poem we recite at the dinner table before meals and not the authoritative commands we can speak under the power of Jesus’ blood. To paraphrase I John 4:4, Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world. And if we could but grasp a glimpse of just how powerful our prayers are…this world would be shaken, and all the evil in it. May I then be so bold as to encourage you to prayer walk around your town…around your schools…around the area you live in. For we are all asking ourselves the same question, “What can I do in the face of all this evil in the world?” The answer is prayer…bold, impassioned prayer.
Any outreach you do must be built and maintained on/by prayer. But for some, their concept of prayer is to only take a certain posture, using certain words. Or for others, their concept of prayer is to beg and plead before an intimidating and menacing judge. Prayer should be as natural as breathing. It’s a continuous running conversation with a close friend and confidant. So maybe instead of using the term prayer – you could use the word talk. Talking to God is a much more non-threatening idea. You’re conversing and consulting with your friend not some ominous power out in the cosmos. Having an ongoing conversation with God during the day will enable you to focus on what’s eternally important while quelling the world’s incessant chatter that’s filling your head.
You can’t change how others in the world will react and behave towards you. The only thing you can change is how you respond…and this scripture is very direct in how you should go about it. You should love. Not loving the sin, but loving the sinner. You should bless. This means speaking well of someone even if you don’t agree with their life-style. You should pray. Now this is probably the most important command… for pray changes not only the person you’re praying for, but it changes you.
Public prayer, in public gatherings…public invocations that were once commonplace, expected and even looked forward to by many at sporting events, meetings, and gatherings. These prayers have sadly become more ceremonial as we attempt to become tolerant and politically correct in all aspects of our society. But the question to every Believer is – have we begrudgingly accept a watered down expression of our faith in the public setting, thus compromising our faith for the sake of correctness?