The Substance of Prayer

If you are a regular reader of the GLBBC blog, you may have seen me write about the topic of “prayer”. Well, I’m at it again and I can’t help myself. It seems nowhere else in my Christian walk do I have more problems than in my prayer life. The lack of frequency (i.e. not talking with God as often as one should) is one matter, but that’s not what is perplexing me. What should prayer consist of; that’s what seems to cause me to stumble. What is acceptable to God in prayer?I know that we should thank God for everything in our lives, so expressing our appreciation is part of prayer. We owe God our very lives. Certainly, I understand prayer requests and their urgency and need. Therefore, asking God to intercede into difficulties others’ may face is part of prayer. However, outside of thanking God and praying for necessities, I’m often at a loss for words before the Lord. (Perhaps I’m not such a good conversationalist.) How much effort should we be spending in asking for things anyway? After all, in Matt 6:25, Jesus teaches, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Are there not higher aspirations that we should be petitioning for?I read the apostle Paul’s second letter to the “church of the Thessalonians” and came to II Thess 1:11, “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power”. I understand the “pray always” part of the verse; Paul was a prayer warrior. The three things he wanted for Thessalonian church … well I know those must be admirable things to ask God for, but I admit I don’t understand them. I have a suspicion I might learn something important if I did. Paul prays for:
1.) “that our God would count you worthy of this calling”,
2.) that God would “fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness”, and
3.) “the work of faith with power”.By reading this passage and other instances where Paul is praying, I was able to get a glimpse into the nature of Paul petitions to our Lord. Material things don’t appear often in Paul’s prayer life, but things that are spiritual do. Are we to pray then, for ourselves and others, that we be more spiritual, that we grow in understanding, that our ultimate hope is to be more like Jesus? I won’t mind just being more like Paul.

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