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The Practice of Prayer

By Betty Cooper —

My brother, Don George, wrote out his prayer requests for himself in September of 2002. His wife Marlene recently found a copy and shared them with me. While reading and praying through them and the scriptures he used, it was a sweet fellowship with my brother, though he died in 2010. There was a hint of concern about his experience in the aging process and true humility expressed in his desire for greater obedience in his thoughts, faith, and stewardship of his time and resources. He surprised me with his prayer for fervency to “share the gospel no matter what the perceived cost.” The surprise is that he was known for his fervency to share the good news of Christ, publicly and privately. I wondered if anyone reads my prayers after I am gone, would they be edified as I was by Don’s?

In my fellowship with other believers, I have often encouraged them not to hesitate to pray for themselves before they pray for others, because if we are not loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, what use will we be for others?

At the beginning of a year, I often think about what I want to focus on in my Christian walk throughout that year. At the end of 2019, I began asking the Lord to grow me in my commitment and ability to pray according to His will. He is so faithful, even when I am not. One Sunday morning I asked the Lord to help me consistently pray for the persecuted church, my brothers and sisters in Christ that are suffering for their faith in Jesus. When I walked in to Redeemer that morning, my friend Stephanie handed me a booklet on praying for persecuted Christians in specific countries. Wow! Then I began to ask for wisdom for what I should be praying. As I did my daily Bible reading, I began to see phrases that spoke specifically of things to pray for the people in the country I was praying for that day.

Don’t assume that I am a great prayer warrior. I am not. But I am learning more about God’s willingness to encourage me through prayer. As we are reminded in the book Generous Living, that God is a generous and giving God. Over and over in His holy scriptures He exhorts us to bring our requests to Him. Psalm 62:8 speaks to me when it says, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” More than once, Jesus encourages His disciples to ask Him to help with their concerns. In John’s gospel Jesus exhorts us: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). And again in John 14: “And whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, that the father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” The qualifier is that the name of Jesus represents all that is true and righteous and good about His person and work.

Mathew 7 tells us: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” The same things are quoted in Luke 11. It goes on to speak of human fathers who know how to give good gifts to their children, continuing by asking how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? Even though I know I was sealed with the Holy Spirit at the moment God caused me to be born again, I trust I can ask for the Holy Spirit to minister to me with the guidance, power, and wisdom I need each moment. I desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit as I trudge along through my life.

Recently when reading 1 John, I was struck with the statement, “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (1 John 5:14-15). That set me thinking about what I could ask, knowing it was God’s will and in keeping with the name of Jesus. What am I asking when I pray the Lord’s Prayer? How do I pray about the fruit of the spirit? My son told me he was praying that those he prays for would love what God loves and hate what God hates.

And so I ask you. What stimulates and guides your prayers?

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