I have been in countless prayer meetings in which the prayer is largely generalized. “Lord, bless our church. Bless our pastor. Bless all of the people who attend. Give us more visitors. Bless the gift and the giver. Bless those who couldn’t attend the services today. Bless us as we go our separate ways. Save the lost. Amen.” This is why so many people do not pray for more than a couple of minutes. This type of generalized praying is too shallow, too impassionate, and there is no way to know if God actually answers.
Paul taught us to pray for very specific things.
- He prayed for people and churches by “making mention” of them, obviously by name. He said this of the church at Rome, of the church at Ephesus, the church at Philippi, the church at Colosse, the church at Thessalonica, of Timothy, and of Philemon (Ro. 1:9; Eph. 1:6; Php. 1:3-4; Col. 1:3;1 Th. 1:2;2 Ti. 1:3; Phm. 1:4).
- Paul didn’t merely pray, “Lord, bless the churches.” He prayed that God would give the churches spiritual wisdom (Eph. 1:17-18) and power (Eph. 3:14-17) and that they would “know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:18-19).
- Paul instructed the people to pray for very specific things when they prayed for him: that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified (2 Th. 3:1), that he would be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men (2 Th. 3:2), that he would be able to open his mouth boldly to preach the gospel (Eph. 6:19), and that he would be able to visit them “the sooner” (Heb. 13:18-19).
- Paul instructed the people to pray “for ALL MEN; for kings, and for ALL that are in authority” (1 Ti. 2:1-2). He instructed them to pray “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Ti. 2:2).
Therefore, we should pray for lost sinners by name, for hard-hearted people by name, for prodigal youth by name, for the president and prime minister and governor and mayor by name, for God to do specific things in the church and specific things for the pastor, etc. This takes time, so we must take the time to pray properly and not be rushed. Instead of meeting a half hour before the service to pray, so that we only have 15 minutes maximum, we can meet 45 minutes before, so we could have a half hour of prayer. And in some situations we could instruct those attending the prayer meeting what to pray for, meaning some can pray for one category of things and some can pray for other things. That way we can pray for everything that we need to pray for, yet not take so long to do it. Everyone doesn’t have to pray for the same things.
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