A number of years ago I cut and pasted every Bible verse that I could find that was a prayer or a teaching about prayer and put them all together. Once you have them all together in one place you can read them consecutively and draw some accurate conclusions about prayer, and see the emphasis that the Bible puts on prayer. It was easy to rearrange the verses so that they were together in emphasis and what was being prayed for or about.
One of the first conclusions that I wrote down after a number of readings through my collected verses on prayer was that there were very few verses that suggested that we should pray to change the circumstances of our life or that of another person. The Apostle Paul prayed three times that God would remove his thorn in the flesh whatever that was, and God refused. The few references that were about praying to change circumstances, had a particular purpose and that was to glorify God so that unbelievers would be converted to Him.
The prayer by Elijah referenced by James 5:16 that brought about famine and then rain was not driven by someone’s crop needing rain, it was to demonstrate God’s power so that those who were rebelling from God would repent. The emphasis in James 5 where sick people were encouraged to be prayed for was that “sinners would turn from the error of their ways.”
Many believers and churches main emphasis on prayer is to ask God to fix our problems, to give us a comfortable life, to allow us to live to be 120 years old, and that is simply not the emphasis in the Bible though there is no place that forbids such praying.
The emphasis in the Bible on prayer is that we would ask God to give us His strength to live a life of victory and accomplishment, that we could manage trials and difficulties well, and that we would be overcomers in life. That we would pray and ask that God would give us great peace so that we would not be overcome by anxiety, stress, and fear, and that God would fill us with joy in spite of the awfulness of our life circumstances. It is God’s plan that our strength, peace, and joy in spite of our circumstances would attract lost people to us who have no hope and they would seek answers from us.
The emphasis in the Bible is that we ask for wisdom so that we would make right choices and live in the center of God’s will for our life so that we can bear much fruit for Him. Wisdom so we would say just the right words when someone asks us why we are not all uptight like the rest of the world in regards to COVID.
The emphasis in the Bible is that we pray for lost people, that we pray for their health and healing, that we pray for their physical needs, and that we would pray that they would get jobs. We have power from God to pray for lost people to understand the gospel, to be convicted for sins so they would seek forgiveness, and to be delivered from the control of the devil.
We as the church have been given an impossible assignment of making disciples, followers of Jesus of the whole world. God has given us some tools to accomplish this incredibly important task and one of the most powerful is prayer. But we use our prayer time mostly to pray for each other to have a comfortable life free of trials and problems.
Isn’t it strange that we who are going to live for all eternity with Jesus in amazing glory are so concerned about this life in our prayer time, and neglect praying for those who are going to spend all eternity in hell in torment.
In the week of February 8th to the 12th JBC is going to be praying for our Missions ministry around the world so that many people come to saving faith in Jesus and are given the gift of eternal life with Jesus. We will be praying in the old sanctuary for ten hours each day. Maybe you could fit in one hour for the five days, or maybe even an hour a day or maybe even more.