B183 - Be thankful in our heart expressed outwardly in praises
In Luke 17, Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee on the way to Jerusalem when he was met by ten lepers who asked for healing. Of the ten, only one leper, a Samaritan (a race hated by Jews because of historical past) returned to praise God with a loud voice.
1 Thes 5:18 says,
‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’
Believers live lives of gratitude, always counting their blessings.
Because being grateful is the will of God. Being thankful also means we put our faith in God.
B184 - Praise God all the time (including tough times)
Be thankful even in bad times. Believers are people who do not just live for the good times because persecution for being associated with Christ has been assured by Jesus himself.
While Jesus was praising and reassuring his disciples that serving him would bring about great joy and benefits – like ‘a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands’, in the same sentence, he included ‘with persecutions’ (Mark 10:29-30) – See D138 to D146 Persecution, for more information.
Paul and Silas were in prison for the cause of Christ. But they rose to the occasion and praised God with hymns and spiritual songs, loud enough for other prisoners to hear (Acts 16:25). Paul explained in 2 Cor 1:3-4 that the comfort came from God.
Jesus assured us that the peace given would be different from that perceived by the world (John 14:27).
Praise God everywhere including bad times.
B185 - Pray the Lord's Prayer
‘And when you pray …. Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven …’
Our Father who art in heaven – It is ‘Our Father’ – Not mine. It is a personal relationship to the living God. God owns the heavens.
Hallowed be thy name – The name of God is to be honored and respected. It is not for us to use God’s name in vain.
Thy kingdom come – Christians are waiting for the coming of the everlasting kingdom. The message of Christ is that of our King and his kingdom.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven – It is not only ‘thy will be done’ but that it be done ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.
Give us this day our daily bread – By ‘bread’, we cover off all things needful including what are required for our souls and bodies. We cannot take for granted that which has been given to us.
And forgive us our trespasses – Like the tax collector whom Jesus mentioned, we humbly seek God to forgive our sins every time they are revealed.
As we forgive those who trespass against us – God forgives if we forgive others of their sins against us. This is critical.
And lead us not into temptation – John Wesley explained that the word ‘temptation’ is the Greek word, ‘peirasmos’ which can also mean trial and testing. Not many of us enjoy trials. So it is fair to ask God to lead us not into trials and testing and our prayers can be answered.
But deliver us from evil – The ruler of this world is still satan (D92, Satan/ King of this world). We can pray to God to deliver us from evil and we must walk away from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever – It is a doxology, a prayer that ends with thanksgiving and an acknowledgement of the attributes and works of God.
‘Pray in this manner’ – and pray the Lord’s prayer.
B186 - Ask in prayer (for a greater cause)
James 4:3 says,
‘You do not have because you do not ask’.
Of course, in the next sentence, it says that we should not ask with wrong motives.
Jesus also taught us to ask and said,
‘Ask in my name and you will receive that your joy may be full’ (John 16:24).
God wants us to be joyful and hence has welcomed us to ask him. The GNT has translated ‘joyful’ to ‘happiness’.
The Greek word is chara or gladness, joy, and delight.
If Christ said ‘Ask’, then surely the mandate had been given to ‘ask in prayer’. Prayer changes things.
What do we ask for? B187 to B194, as well as B419 Prayer – provides us with some leads.
B187 - Pray for boldness to share the gospel
‘Finally brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored.’
B187 to B195 Prayer – talks about what we can pray for.
It is still the prayer of our generation. Pray for boldness to share the gospel of Jesus.
B188 - Pray for signs and wonders
Acts 4:30 was a prayer of the believers even as John and Peter were released from prison. It continued with these words:
‘While you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed …’
In Acts 4:23-31, the disciples prayed for supernatural signs to follow them in their evangelistic outreaches. And the Book of Acts is full of that and include:
- Peter raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-41),
- Paul healed a man who was crippled at birth (Acts 14:10),
- Paul’s handkerchiefs or aprons were healing and casting out demons (Acts 19:12),
- Paul raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:12),
- Paul was not killed by a viper which attached itself to his hand (Acts 28:5-6).
John 2:23 explains that
‘many believed in his (Jesus) name when they saw the signs that he was doing.’
Signs and wonders follow an apostle (2 Cor 12:12).
‘And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.’
Signs and wonders, as you can imagine, are powerful to draw people in for the Gospel.
While signs and wonders are not everyday events, they do happen.
In 2011, Craig Keener, a Professor of Biblical Studies in Asbury University in Kentucky, USA, as well as a well regarded author, published a book entitled, ‘Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts’. Keener had also provided us, stories relating to modern-day healing. However, being an academic, Keener had taken special interest in offering evidence and proofs to back up his writing.
One such incident involved Ed Wilkinson, who was trained in neuropsychology which is the study of the structure and function of the brain as they relate to specific psychological processes and behaviors.
Wilkerson was a doubter who felt that those seeking healing were doing so to use it as a neurosis to avoid dealing with reality. Everything changed in 1984 when his own son, Brad, was diagnosed with atrial septal defect, with two holes in the heart. The condition impaired his lungs and heart.
His pastor informed Wilkerson that a visiting minister was planning a healing service in their church. At the session, the minister, Wesley Steelberg invited those who wanted prayer for physical healing to go forward. Brad went forward to Steelberg asked him a simple question, ‘Do you believe that Jesus can heal you?’ Once Brad answered affirmatively, Steelberg offered a simple prayer.
The family did not, however, missed their surgical appointment as the hope of a miraculous healing had subsided. However, after about an hour of the scheduled six-hour surgery, the pediatric cardiac surgeon came out of the operating theater and summoned Wilkerson into a room where they displayed films posted on the wall taken the day before the surgery as well as those taken just before the surgery.
It was clear from the films that something had happened between the two days – Brad’s heart and lungs were now normal. The surgeon explained, ‘You can count this as a miracle’ and the hospital risk manager added, ‘You can see from the films that this was not a misdiagnosis.’
Today, Brad Wilkerson is alive and well, running a business and having children of his own.
Then, there is the amazing story of John Smith, the adopted son of Brian and Joyce Smith, who, when he was fourteen, slipped into an icy lake in Jan 2015 and was underwater for fifteen minutes before resuscitative efforts were started. With no pulse or breath for almost an hour, the attending physician Dr Sutterer suggested Joyce a chance to say her final goodbye.
Instead, a weeping Joyce cradled her son in her arms and pleaded with the Holy Spirit to not let John die, at which point, a faint pulse was registered. Attending doctors were not so positive and suspected that John would likely live out his life in a vegetative state.
Against all odds, John recovered and demonstrated his full cognitive ability. His inspirational story about the power of a desperate prayer has been made into a movie, Breakthrough, by 20th Century Fox.
God still works his miracles. Of course, we must pray for more signs and wonders so that the name of Jesus can be proclaimed powerfully.
B189 - Pray and be thankful for the food placed before us
This was Apostle Paul encouraged the sailors to eat after a really rough fortnight at sea but he started the proceeding by giving thanks to God for the provision of food.
‘And when he had said these things (of encouragement), he took bread and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat’ – Acts 27:35.
Jesus did the same in John 6:11 even as he was organizing a meal for a huge crowd of five thousand –
‘Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks.’
It is a heart of gratitude from us not to take every given meal for granted but to always thank God for his provision.
Hence, always pray and be thankful for the food placed before us.
B190 - Pray for a quiet and peaceful life
1 Tim 2:2 says,
‘(Pray) for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.’
Hence, we pray for a quiet and peaceful life so that we can live in a dignified manner.
B191 - Pray for wellness and health
‘Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.’
This is also a typical greeting of people across the world. The Chinese has a similar greeting as well. It is a natural wish for goodness for the other person.
Pray for the well being of others.
B192 - Pray not to enter into temptation
At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked his disciples,
‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation’ (Luke 22:40).
It was the same message in Matt 26:40 when he found his disciples sleeping just before his arrest.
What does ‘not enter into temptation’ mean?
Some situations are so tough – like the assignment that Jesus had to fulfill at the cross. Jesus did no harm and it was a political decision that resulted in him going to the cross. He could have gotten himself rescued but, for our sake, he chose the narrow road (Matt 26:53).
The Greek word is peirasmos or trial, probation, testing, calamity and affliction. The Lord’s prayer reads,
‘Lead us not into temptation’
but why so?
Many of us are like the Apostle Peter who promised the Lord that he would never betrayed Jesus. And we know how that went when the rooster crowed. Instead, the Lord’s counsel to us is to pray that we do not enter into temptation.
If we only require one driving test to get a result, why would we choose to take several driving tests in order to achieve the same result?
As believers, let us pray that we do not enter into temptation for some of them can be quite intense not only to us but possibly to our family too.
B193 - Pray for delivery from evil men
2 Thes 3:2 reads –
‘(Pray for us) that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men.’
It is not only trials and temptations that we can pray against. We can also pray to be delivered from ‘wicked people’.
In Christian ministries, we have to be wise and request from God to open doors while limit the impact of wicked people.
Prayer can change our circumstances.
B194 - Pray that our faith will not fail
‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.’
The Lord prayed for Peter because Jesus knew that at times we could fail.
We should pray for the same for ourselves, for our children, and for our friends because none of us can say for certain that our faith will remain as we all have weaknesses.
This prayer has become so critical when we see the number of next generation that are around us. Pray that our children’s faith may not fail.
Surely, we do not want them to be missing from heaven because we have been unfaithful in our prayers.
B195 - Pray for provision of (church) laborers
The Lord told his disciples,
‘Pray EARNESTLY to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’
The harvest is truly plentiful across the whole world. And there is much to be done to expand the kingdom of God. Hence, the prayer of Jesus is as appropriate now as it was back then.
Let us not only pray but if we, let us obey and go.
B421 - Pray to be kept from the evil one
In John 17:15, Jesus prayed to God the Father,
‘I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.’
Jesus’ prayer is for Christians to remain on earth even if the going gets tough. Nonetheless, he prayed to the Father that Christians would be protected from the evil one (or Satan).
We should pray the same things for people that we love. See also D50, Jesus intercedes on our behalf to God.
B196 - Always give thanks when praying
B197 - Pray unceasingly
‘Pray without ceasing.’
and Eph 6:18,
‘Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.’
Prayer is vital. Jesus said in Luke 18:1,
‘Man always ought to pray and never lose heart.’
He followed that with the story of a persistent widow who appealed relentlessly for justice from the judge so much so that the judge finally gave in to hear her case.
Prayer is so important that Apostle Paul asked we ‘pray without ceasing’. And when we run out of words, we can pray in the Spirit. The key thing is to pray unceasingly.
Keep praying and do not be anxious because while anxiety is natural, it is putting our faith in the wrong place.
Phil 4:6-7 reads,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
In prayer, we find solace. And we can move God’s hands supernaturally and powerfully.
B198 - Pray and persist always
Jesus shared the story of the persistent widow who went to a judge to plead her case; she ‘kept coming to him’ (Luke 18:3). It exhausted him and the judge concluded, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, i will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’
In Luke 8:50, Jesus reassured a man whose daughter had died with these words,
‘Do not fear; only believe and she will be well.’
In the Old Testament, Gen 32:22-32, we have the experience of Jacob wrestling with God. Jacob and a man (whom we recognized later to be God), were engaged in a wrestle. But Jacob could not be overpowered. When the man sought to be realized, Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ (Gen 32:26).
Persistence in wrestling through prayer is a demonstration of our faith in the Lord. If we want God’s blessings, be bold and persist.
In difficult situations, persist and persevere in asking during prayers. Sometimes, it might take decades.
Never give up hope.
B199 - Pray for each other
The writer of Hebrews requested prayer in Heb 13:18,
‘Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things’
while in James 5:16, James simply said,
‘Pray for one another.’
In his hour of greatest need, Jesus sought for the prayers of his disciples. In Matt 26:41, Jesus asked his disciples to ‘keep watch and pray’ with him.
We pray for each other.
B200 - Pray together and in agreement
‘Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.’
‘All these with ONE ACCORD were devoting themselves to prayer …’ – Acts 1:14.
There is power in praying together and in agreement.
Find a (few) prayer partner(s) and pray together. Unity is powerful.
B201 - Pray simply and truthfully
‘But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’
In Matt 6:6, Jesus asked his audience to
‘go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.’
What does it mean to us?
We are to pray simply, truthfully, and with all sincerity. We do not need bombastic words or dance around the court to impress or awake God because it does not bug God.
What matters is our humility and what is in our hearts.
B202 - Pray (always) in the Spirit
‘For we do not know what to pray for as we ought but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words’
and Eph 6:18,
‘Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.’
Someone once shared that praying in the Spirit strengthens our spirit-men.
Eph 6:18 says, ‘Praying at ALL TIMES in the Spirit’.
B203 - Pray explicitly
In Mark 10:51, Jesus asked blind Bartimaeus, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Now, is not that obvious? Yet, why did Jesus ask? Jesus again asked the same question to a blind man near Jericho in Luke 18:41.
In John 14:13, Jesus said,
‘Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do that the Father may be glorified in the Son.’
God expects us to ASK HIM explicitly (that is, we must open our mouths and VERBALIZE what is in our hearts), not through our thoughts, even in obvious cases.
You get what you ask for; not only to ask but to persevere and even to travail.
B204 - Pray desperately (to get God's attention)
‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months, it did not rain on the earth.’
Jesus responded well to desperate cries. He heard the cries of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:47-48) even when others admonished him to keep quiet. Thankfully, Bartimaeus refused to listen.
He tested the degree of desperation with a racist remark (using a proverb to equate Samaritans as dogs) on a Canaanite woman to see her response regarding her demonically possessed daughter (Matt 15:27).
And he went to Zacchaeus’ house because Zacchaeus was desperate enough to climb a sycamore tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus (Luke 19:5).
In the Old Testament, a common theme is the importance of ‘crying out’ (appealing desperately) to the Lord. In Ex 3:7, the Lord said –
‘I have surely heard the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry …..’
A desperate prayer and plea get the attention of God. Pray powerful heartfelt prayers.
B205 - Pray in Jesus' name
‘Whatever you ask in my name ….. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.’
Believers finish their prayers in Jesus’ name because the Lord promises us that if we do, He will do it.
How do Christians pray? In summary, Christians pray:
Christians pray – in the Spirit, in Jesus’ name, and in faith (B165 – Ask in prayer and in faith).
Christians pray – with other Christians, together, and in unity.
B206 - Ask prayers from righteous men
B207 - Honor our wives for our prayers to be answered
B208 - Be aware that our prayers may have 'no' as an answer
‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.’
This was a prayer of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane just before he went to the cross. Even Jesus had a prayer that God, the Father, did not answer.
Jesus knew the end goal but we believe he was struggling with the process.
The same went for Paul who had a
‘thorn in his flesh. Paul pleaded with God three times but was told to him that ‘My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9).
We have to balance the teaching regarding prayers because sometimes in the sovereignty of God, he may choose not to grant us our prayer request. But that does not mean that we cannot keep seeking.
One great story remains of David who had a child out of his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah; David subsequently placed Uriah in a frontline battle so as to enhance the possibility of his death which did eventuate.
David’s child was pronounced a death sentence by God through the prophet Nathan but David chose to battle God in prayer (2 Sam 12:16). In the end, it was to no avail but it showed David’s heart as someone who knew how to plead with God.
In God’s will, we must take it as far as is humanly possible and yet be prepared for God to say ‘no’ to our prayers.
We will never have the complete picture on this side of heaven.
B209 - Pray early in the day (or just allocate time to pray)
‘Rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.’
Jesus liked the pre-dawn time to pray. Others might yet spend the afternoon praying. Regardless, the important time is to allocate time to pray.
Time alone with God helps us to focus our attention on what is important.
B210 - Seek a private place to pray alone
Mark 1:35 says that he ‘went out to a desolate place’ to pray.
When Jesus prayed alone, he prayed in isolation, away from distractions. He went to the ‘mountain’; one has to note that a ‘mountain’ in Israel is not exactly as we know it but more like a mount, a high place or you might say, a park, garden or even among the woods.
When praying, it is for us to seek a private place to pray alone.
B211 - Pray often and be steadfast
Rom 12:12, ‘Be constant in prayer.’ If we follow Jesus, we will realize that he prayed often. Whenever he could squeeze some time in his busy itinerary, he would pray.
Actually, it is amazing just to read the Gospel and be so inspired by Jesus that despite his busyness, he never neglected prayer. What does it tell us about ourselves?
Pray often and be steadfast. Pray in our cars, in the bathrooms, in the privacy of our rooms, or at a church.
B212 - Pray lifting up holy hands
B213 - Pray and fast
Jesus expected believers to fast.
In Matt 6:16, he said,
‘When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.’
In Luke 2:37, it mentioned about a prophetess, Anna, who was given an opportunity to live and proclaim the redemption of Jerusalem, she was known to have been in the temple ‘worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.’
In Mark 9:29, when confronted with an unclean spirit that his disciples could not cast out, he explained to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting’ although the Greek word is proseuche and is the same as prayer.
Acts 13:3 also showed that in important events, like in this case the calling out of Saul and Barnabas to go on a mission trip, the Antioch church fasted and prayed for them before laying their hands on them and sending them away.
Again, at every church, when the disciples were appointing elders, they did it with ‘prayer and fasting’ (Acts 14:23).
Fasting and prayer seem to operate symbiotically and without much fanfare. It can offer special breakthroughs.
Practice prayer with fasting.
See B250, Pray and fast and seek the Holy Spirit as well as B323, Fast and pray for healing.