12. Some Sample Prayers
Baptism is a new birth, into a new relationship with God as our Father, and into the Lord Jesus as our elder brother and mediator. After baptism, communication with God is therefore vital. Yet frequently there is a major problem facing newly baptized believers: How ever do we start to pray? For some, this problem is just endless. Others feel that their efforts are somehow lacking, and struggle with the inability of human language to express what they really mean. This difficulty will last, in some form, throughout our spiritual lives. However, we must ever be aware that the Lord Jesus does not just transfer our words to God as pieces of language. Seeing that we do not know how to properly express ourselves to God, He transfers the thoughts of our spirit to God (Rom. 8:26,27). It is in this context that Paul encourages us to have a spiritual mind in our daily life; because that is relayed to the presence of God by the Lord Jesus, " the Lord the Spirit" . Therefore our whole lives can be a life of prayer, lived out in the presence of the Lord God. However, we are encouraged to pray with our human words as well; indeed, Scripture is full of examples of men doing just this.
The model prayer given by the Lord can of course be used just as it is. But itís worth noting that the Lordís own subsequent prayers, and some of Paul, repeated the essence of some of the phrases in it, but in different words. This may be a useful pattern for us in learning how to formulate prayers. The prayer of Jesus in Jn. 17 is in some ways an expanded restatement of the model prayer. In it, the Lord asks for the Fatherís Name to be hallowed or glorified (Jn. 17:1,11,12); for His work or will to be done or finished (Jn. 17:4); for deliverance from the evil one (Jn. 17:15). The prayer of Jn. 17 can be divided into three units of about the same length (Jn. 17:1-8; 9-19; 20-26). Each has the theme of glory, of directly addressing the Father, and of the needs of Godís people- all clearly taken from the model prayer.
There are at least two basic principles to bear in mind when formulating our prayers. Firstly, we must not pray to a black box in our brain which we call 'God'. We are invited to see Him as a real, personal being, located in Heaven, with the Lord Jesus at His right hand to offer our prayers powerfully to Him. This means that our prayers have a focus, we are not shouting words into the massive emptiness of space, nor are we dealing with abstract meditations which just remain within the brain cells where they originate. Secondly, we must pray to our supremely spiritual God in spiritual language; the language of the Spirit-word. Therefore our prayers should quote, paraphrase or allude to the language of Scripture as far as possible. The following prayers seek to do this; it would make an interesting homework for readers to go through these prayers and pencil in the Bible references which are being alluded to.
Over the years, a number of brethren and sisters have asked for some written prayers to be provided. Time and again I have refused, feeling that this would result in God's children talking to Him through another man's words, with the result that their relationship with God would become sterile and empty. To some degree, I still have those reservations. Yet the number of brethren and sisters badgering me for at least some concrete guidelines has rapidly increased with the recent baptisms of many people who previously had no religion whatsoever, and certainly no Christian background. I feel it is better for God's people to at least pray something rather than nothing. Yet it must be emphasized a thousand times that what follows is not a prayer book. It is to stimulate your own thinking. I would suggest that to make these prayers personal you translate them into your native language, and add a few sentences. Some of us who have been praying all our lives often find ourselves guilty of using the same phrases and wording. There is nothing wrong with this in itself; Christ Himself prayed three times in Gethsemane, " praying the same words" ; and He gave us His model prayer to be repeated. However, as men and women living " in newness of life" , in a spirit of dynamic growth, we would all do well to occasionally examine the language and style of our prayers. Reading another believer's prayers may help in this. We ought to be talking about these issues when we meet and as we correspond. Do pray for guidance, that within the limits of our humanity we might be able to better express ourselves to our Almighty Sovereign, king of the Universe, Maker of Heaven and earth.
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE DAY
Great Father, God of Israel, God of all my brethren and sisters, I come to You in the name of the Lord Jesus this morning. Father. Please hear me. Please do send the Lord Jesus back soon. May it even be today Lord. Hasten that day Father, in its time. Father as I think about that moment of Jesus' coming, I do really struggle to be ready. Great God, I know that You want me to be ready and waiting. I know that this is Your will. And that whatever I ask, according to your will, you will hear. So Father in Heaven, hear in Heaven your dwelling place, hear as I pray that I will be ready for Christ this day. Guide, over-rule, all the things of this day, so that they will work together for my spiritual good. Give me the strength Father, mentally, to keep up the battle at the back of my mind. Please do help me to be spiritually minded, to be aware that I am your servant, a servant of the Most High God. Strengthen me Lord against this world, against the world of the flesh that is inside me as well as outside me. Gracious Father, may I really sense more deeply this day that I am yours, of spiritual Israel, living in this evil world. Oh Yahweh, God of Israel, may I learn more of your character this day, through my experience of life, through my meditation upon your word; may I know your Name. Because I know that those who know your Name will put their trust in you. And Father I do so want to live a life of faith, I do so wish that I could keep that sense of the reality of my calling more permanently before me. Help me to do this Father, please. O sovereign Lord, maker of Heaven and earth, yes, maker of Heaven and earth, do strengthen me in this I beg. And Father, be with all my dear brethren and sisters who are striving and struggling like I am, give us all the victory hour by hour this day, so that at the end of all things we might meet together in that final triumph. Oh Father, hasten your Kingdom, that wonderful moment of meeting Christ. And even now, in this life Father, may I know your saving grace, may I live now as if I am in the day of Thy Kingdom. Be with me all along this road Lord, feed me today please, give me what I need physically, and may I see your love in more things today Father. Oh Yahweh, Yahweh, may I have opportunities today to tell out of myself to others this great Hope, this great knowledge, that the world around me might know the good news of your love, and of your dear Son. Oh Father, I do praise you for your presence near this morning, may it go with me, and may my sense of your closeness grow this day Father, oh may I not go back, slip back, be indifferent to the great things of your truth Father. Strengthen me onwards Father, and hear my spirit's sacrifice, as I pray to you through my Lord Jesus, Amen.
PRAYER BEFORE FOOD
Gracious Father, through the name of Jesus I come before you, into your presence, in the midst of this life, to ask you to hear my thanks for this food. Father, please open my eyes that I might see the greatness of your love in all things. And above all, I thank you for my Lord Jesus, for the hope of the Kingdom, that bread which a man may eat and live for ever. Oh great God, please hasten the Kingdom, and please do accept my feeble words of praise, in the mighty Name of my Lord Jesus, Amen.
PRAYER BEFORE A JOURNEY
Almighty Father, Yahweh I do ask in the name of the Lord Jesus for the coming of your Kingdom; but also while this life drones on Father, for your help on this journey, that you wilt lead me safely through the wilderness of this world, as you lead your people through all the deserts of their lives in the past- to make yourself a glorious Name. Please do the same with me Father. Please help me to be spiritually minded as the kilometres go by, despite all the problems of travel please help me to fix my mind on those high, high things of your word, to keep my mind in Heavenly places in Christ, and to meditate more clearly on the love of your beloved Son. Through Him, Lord, please do hear my words, Amen.
PRAYER BEFORE READING THE WORD
Perfect Father, through your dear, perfect Son I come into your presence, into the Holiest of all, Heaven itself, to pray intensely for the coming of Christ, that I might know you even as you now know me. Oh Father in my spiritual man I only desire one thing, to sit in your temple and behold the beauty of your character and your ways. So I do thank you for giving me these moments now to do that; as I sit before you now Lord I strive for the spirit of that young man Samuel to say 'Speak, Lord, for your servant heareth'. So Father, do please speak to me through your word, make it personal to me, open my eyes that it might be more to me than black print on white paper, show me the wonderful things of your word, show me your glory, Yahweh of Israel, and please do grant me the strength to take the spirit of these things with me in my life Father, that I might not just intellectually exult in these things. So Father, please do hear my prayer, my earnest cry to you as I seek to enter deeper into your spirituality, the ultimate perfection of your Spirit, in the name of the Lord Jesus, Amen.
PRAYERS AT THE BREAKING OF BREAD
Almighty Sovereign, Yahweh, God of all Israel, I come before your throne through the mediation of my Lord Jesus, in my mind Lord I bow before the presence of your glory as I sense it reflected in the face of the Lord Jesus. Bow down your ears to hear me, O God. Father, please please open my eyes, to behold more finely the greatness of Christ, to see your glory reflected through Him. May I really grow in knowing you, O Father, may this meeting also be a step up the ladder for me in knowing the grace of your beloved Son, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Open my eyes Father, that I might imagine the more clearly and realistically the pain of His life, and above all of His death, may I see its meaning for me Father, please may I perceive it the more clearly, and may I take away into this difficult life the spirit of these things. Please do be with all your dear children, as we are united together around this slain lamb, the emblems of your dear Son, in the darkness of this Egypt, this world of emptiness. Wherever they are Lord, physically and spiritually, be near to each of them, bind us together Father, through our common experience and understanding of the love of Christ. Open my eyes to your word as I read it now Lord, may I especially see the spirit of Christ there, and may I see my desperate need Father, yes Lord, may I see the desperateness of my position, my need for your forgiveness and grace through the Lord. Oh Yahweh, please hasten the Lord's coming, that I might see Him for myself, that my eyes might behold Him, that I might see the King in His beauty. May He come in my lifetime Father. Help me to hold on Father, oh Yahweh may I keep faithful to that covenant we made at baptism. Father I do so thank you for the wonder and closeness of our relationship. I do so thank you, with my feeble human words and thoughts, for going forth so mightily in my case, to take me unto yourself, to forge me into one of your people. Oh Yahweh God of my covenant, who keeps mercy for me and all your people, please do accept what I am now going to do, to re-affirm my covenant with you. Bind me closer to you Father, and to all others who are bound in covenant with you. Help more, Father, to come to know your Name, to see your grace in Christ, and help me in the coming week to beseech men and women in your behalf, help me to in the same spirit beseech my brethren and sisters, that they too would respond more earnestly to your great love. Great Father, yet once again I ask that my eyes might be opened ever wider to the greatness of your love in the Lord; may I really come to know the love of Christ, that passes my human knowledge, may I see the length, the breadth, the depth, and above all the height of the love of Christ. Oh Father give me a larger mind, the mind of your Spirit, help me in the coming week to make more time for your word, to think more about it in the day, to rise earlier in the mornings to think about it more, to start each day more spiritually. Great God, you know my heart, my desire towards you, yet remember that I am but dust, know my frame. Oh Yahweh, what is man that you are mindful of Him, and the son of man, that you visit Him? Who am I, Father, that you have come so close to me. Make me to know my own weakness more Lord, and the surpassing majesty of your strength, may I appreciate your righteousness the more, may I see it as wonderful as the great mountains; may I more truly and more fully love your righteousness, may I be helped to so develop, that I will therefore love the righteousness of Christ, that I might see the beauty of your beloved Son, that I might more fully share your love of Him, oh Father. So Lord, please do help me as I read and meditate upon the Lord Jesus, help me to concentrate, focus my mind, uplift me Lord, that I might be stronger and stronger in your grace, that it might the more endlessly inspire me day by day, and at times even hour by hour, in this lonely life Lord. So hear my prayer Father, draw near to me now Lord, for I come before you in the mighty name of the Lord Jesus, Amen.
PRAYER FOR THE BREAD
Almighty Father, I come before you through your beloved Son. Through Him, Father, please do hear me, understand and accept my thanks for the gift of the Lord Jesus, who I see symbolized in this bread. I see again, hopefully more clearly than before, that you did so love me that you gave your only beloved Son. So Father I summon what faith I have, I'm trying to fix it all upon the Lord, that bread which came down from Heaven, from you. Father, I believe in Him, symbolized as He is by this bread. So Father I open my heart to Him and to you, come and dwell in me, come and eat with me both of you, dwell in my heart. Oh Father, in the intensity of this moment please dwell within me, may your life live within me. Yet especially Lord, may I take this intensity with me in my daily life, knowing that if I eat the flesh of Christ in my daily life, then I have eternal life. So Lord as this bread becomes part of me, in some small way, so may the spirit of Christ become part of me, may I show by the way I think, the way I speak, even the tone of my voice, that I have really experienced such abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness which you have given me in Christ. Oh Father, help me, even make me, to appreciate these things more deeply, may they become more fundamentally part of me. And Yahweh, God of Truth, sensing the presence of your love, I ask my heart's desire: please do send Him back soon. Please Father, please hear me in Heaven your dwelling place, in His holy name, Amen.
PRAYER FOR THE WINE
Oh Father, God of all grace and mercy, through the Lord Jesus, my priest at your right hand, I come to ask for Thy grace in one thing: to understand and accept my praise for the blood of Christ. Oh Father, I do praise you for the way the bread and wine make it all come so real once again. Wash me, Almighty Father, in His blood; strengthen me intellectually, spiritually, that I might have all joy and peace through truly believing that I am totally pure in your perfect sight, clothed in the righteousness of your peerless Son. Hasten, O Yahweh God, that great day of the final triumph, when I shall drink this cup again with my Lord Jesus in Jerusalem, the city of the great king. Hasten it Lord, hurry it on, and in the days that remain may the wonder of my connection with the blood of the Lord Jesus grow and grow. Oh Lord, may I pour myself out, pour out my life in all ways, as He did. Strengthen me to rise up to the height of His example a little more, Almighty Father, and yet may I grow in faith in the totality of mercy and grace which I see here. Accept my praise for this, loving Father, please, in the name of my Lord and Saviour Jesus, Amen.
Oh Yahweh, hear me again. I bow out of your presence as it were now, Lord, in the name of the Lord Jesus. I do so thank you for what I've been able to do, I do above all praise you for your love toward me in Christ, and I magnify as best I can the extent of His victory over the flesh. Oh that you would rend the heavens, that you would come down, that all the earth might know the wonder of your manifestation in Christ. Oh may He soon return Father. Guide me in this brief life, help me to know mine end, help me to see the utter vanity of all else outside Christ, to truly catch the spirit of His dedication to you and your ways. Oh Sovereign Father, so far above the dearest of human love, as I sit here in your presence, and in the presence of your beloved Son, I sense your infinity, the majesty of your glorious character, and above all of your love and grace toward me in Christ. For a brief moment Lord I have touched the sky, I've reached out of earthly things into your heavenly things, I have started to rise up to the great things of your Spirit; and now I set my face to return to this world, to shoulder the cross once again, and I earnestly beg for your help to take the spirit of Christ with me, that I might hold on to the spirit of His cross as I too struggle for the mastery. Oh Father I know there is no short cut, I cannot be crowned unless I strive lawfully, oh Yahweh guide me onwards then, through this waste wilderness, through the howling winds of this world and of my own nature, and Father I know that you will pull me through, according as I abide with you. Oh Father may I abide with you all my days, hold me Lord in your glorious light, even now, and lead me to that fullness of fellowship with you and my Lord Jesus which is all I seek in life. You know me, Lord, you know my life, my ways are open to your view, know that this is truly all my hope, and all my desire. Oh Father I do praise you for this closeness which we experience, which we experience now, for this unity of the Spirit, through the glorious mediation of the Lord Jesus. Oh Sovereign Father, Yahweh of Israel, Lord of the whole earth, I know that you have heard me through Him. For this I simply praise you. Amen.
Questions For Reflection And Discussion
1. How many minutes / day do you spend praying?
2. What are the main problems you face in prayer physically, e.g. is it hard for you to find time? To find a time and place where you will not be disturbed by family?
3. What are the main problems you face in prayer spiritually, e.g. do you have a problem in knowing what to pray for?
4. What do you think you can do about these problems?
5. How can we know what we should pray for? Should we pray for things if we don't know whether or not they are according to God's will?