Have you ever "struggled in prayer" on behalf of someone? I'm noting today, as I have my daily Bible reading in Colossians, the different things Paul and other servants of the Lord prayed for. There are many throughout the Bible. I think it would be a good study. There are those in my heart who I do struggle in prayer for. I love that the Bible lays out for us a guide as to how we should pray for them, because sometimes we just don't really know how to. We "struggle in prayer" rather than in the flesh, bringing their situations before God, crying out to God on their behalf. When we don't go to the Lord in prayer, instead too often we walk away from a need or problem because it is too much for us, or we try to "fix it" in ourselves and fix others. Sometimes we pray selfishly even for others...for what we want to see in them, or what we want them to be for our benefit. But do we struggle in prayer for them to stand mature in the Lord, fully assured in all the will of God, that God may be glorified in them?
I thought it would be good just to bring out a few of Paul's prayers on behalf of fellow believers. My favorite is two prayers in Ephesians.
(16) I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
(17) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
(18) having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
(19) and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
(20) that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
He prayed first of all, to the "Father of all glory" - of personal absolute perfect excellency - our Father through Christ Jesus. We need to look at Who our God is, His attributes, hallowing Him in our hearts, which gives us faith in Him then, as we bring our supplications before Him. What an incredible thing that we can pray to Him! He asked for the "Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." Unless the Lord opens our eyes, we are blind, spiritually. "Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened" - we have an inner being that is made alive or enlightened when His Spirit comes into us to make us His own children. It is only those so enlightened that can receive that wisdom and revelation that comes from Him alone. Paul prays for that in them in order that they might "know the hope of His calling" and "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints."
Why would he pray this? So many go on in the Christian life as if all depended on their own ability and strength to live it, but we need to see and understand that power that lives in us, that power that gave us a very real hope of eternal salvation that cannot be taken from us, is complete, is a work of Christ alone, and is a work of power sufficient for all, which is "to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead." Do we grasp that power? That power that lives in us? Do we really see it and put our faith in it for our daily struggles, temptations, trials and sufferings in this life? Paul is praying they will see this - get a revelation of it in their innermost being. What a prayer! We certainly know that if we pray this for those we are burdened for, as well as for ourselves, we are praying according to God's will.
Then there is another prayer in Ephesians Paul prays.
(14) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
(15) from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
(16) that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
(17) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
(18) may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
(19) and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(20) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
(21) to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Once again, it is through being "strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being" that He prays they would know the presence of Christ in their hearts and His love together in the body of Christ. What a wonderful prayer to pray for our homes, our families, and our churches! How can we go wrong in our relationships if we are praying for this? And God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask for or think? And that because of "the power that works within us." And all this is for His glory in the church.
So many times we just don't know how to pray. We do struggle in prayer at times, just not understanding perhaps what the cause of a problem is, what the solution is, how to pray, how to know God's will. Any time I am struggling to know how to pray, these prayers help me. No matter what the situation, when we pray these prayers, we are getting God's heart and will to work in that person's life and in ours as well.
Here is another prayer that stands out to me:
(9) And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
(10) so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
(11) May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
(12) giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Again Paul prays that they would be "strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might" which is what enables these prayers for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, and the ability to walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him, bearing fruit, etc., to be fulfilled in them. It is God who qualifies us, gives us the power, and enables us. Our prayers bring that grace to others. By prayer we actually are able to bring His grace to ourselves as well as another. That is a great thing!!
for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, (Philippians 1:19)
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
These prayers are always given in faith in the power of God, and in the will of God. They are always given with thanksgiving. How often do we struggle in prayer and then walk away as burdened as we were to begin with if not more so, because we really are not praying in faith, believing He will hear and answer, and not giving thanks for His perfect wisdom and will in taking the burden of this situation or person into His care, and working in it. As we pray we also need to "cast the care" of all onto Him, because He cares for us more than we can rightly care for ourselves or others.
Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. 1 Peter 5:7 (Amplified Bible)
Do we really have faith in Him, or do we think we still have to fret and worry and take care of things ourselves? Do we trust His will and His love? When we don't, we grieve the Lord and quench His Spirit.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
When we pray according to the Scripture, we know we are praying according to His will, and we have His promise that He hears us and will answer. We can pray in faith, and we can cast the care all onto Him. We can walk in assurance that God is working, whether or not we see anything outwardly happening.
Struggling in prayer does not always mean we are praying with unbelief. I believe Epaphroditus and Paul prayed in faith, yet they struggled earnestly for the church in prayer. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but there are times we struggle with the powers of darkness in prayer, standing against them as we stand our ground for the Lord. We must be strengthened again in the power of His might in order to do so.
(10) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
(11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
(12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
(13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
(14) Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
(15) and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
(16) In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
(17) and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
(18) praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
This is one of the most thorough guidelines for us to come before the Lord in prayer that Paul gives us through the Holy Spirit in the Word, I believe. It has precise instructions for us, and refers back to Ephesians 1-2 giving us the ground we are to stand on. Our prayers are not effective if we are not "putting on" the full armor of God and standing dressed in all He has provided for us. We don't have the strength to stand and to do spiritual battle for ourselves or others if we are not "strengthened in the power of His might" being "strong in the Lord." Key phrase - "in the Lord." Only those "in Christ" have this available to them. The world neither understands or has that armor in order to stand against the powers of darkness. In fact, the Bible tells us they are under the influence of the evil one. That's why as we pray for unsaved loved ones we must pray that the Lord will grant them the grace to have their eyes opened to the truth where satan has blinded their minds and hardened their hearts.
These are just a few of the prayers the Lord gives us in His Word and instructions regarding prayer. We can read books on prayer, others' experiences with prayer, testimonies of prayer, and so forth, but as we are in the Word itself we find our hearts molded according to His heart, and His Spirit filling us with the spirit of prayer and intercession according to His will and understanding, and empowers us with all that we need to come before Him. And if we pray according to His will, with the mind of Christ, we know we have the things we ask for. Prayer is for every child of God, no matter what his level of maturity in the Lord. It is not just for the "spiritual giant" and in fact many who think they are spiritual giants because they have learned some special formula for getting from God, are missing out completely on what God has in mind through prayer.
1 John 5:14-15
(14) And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
(15) And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Prayer is our avenue of fellowship and communion with God. It is a way for us to learn to know His heart and will as well as surrender of ours to Him. It is a way that we communicate with Him and He with us. It is our interacting with His Word which is living, as we make that communication of Him to us ours back to Him. It is vital in our relationship with God. Oh how we miss out if we are not in prayer!
Thank You Father, for the awesome privilege of prayer. Thank You for Your guidelines and promises and assurances in Your Word as we do. I pray that You'll grant us the grace to pray more and not neglect this wonderful privilege! Show us how much we are missing because we do not bring all before You, asking in Jesus name.
If you want to know more about this salvation and are not sure you are going to Heaven, you can know. His Word assures us how we can know. Click here to read more.