“Prayer Changes Things.”
Meaningful prayers from Scripture.
One of the earliest Biblical examples of prayer can be found when Abraham interceded for the city of Sodom in Genesis 18. Standing before the Lord, Abraham pleaded with Him to spare the immoral city based on the fact that some holy people lived there. We all know people who have turned away from God and live an immoral lifestyle. Abraham’s example reminds us that we should pray for their conversion and ask the Lord to be merciful.
When informed by the Lord in a dream to ask for something in 1 Kings 3, Solomon didn’t ask for riches or treasures, but requested an understanding mind so that he could discern good from evil. Pleased by this noble plea, God also granted him riches and honor. We often have our priorities in the wrong order and pray solely for temporary things. If we learn to focus more on spiritual goods, we’ll find that the Lord will also provide for our material needs.
Found in Psalm 22 and later repeated by Jesus as He died on the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is a prayer familiar to many. It is a desperate plea for the Lord’s assistance when all seems hopeless. We should not be ashamed to use these words, but rather look at them as a cry for help. Those who are prone to anxiety should become familiar with this prayer and not hesitate to use it when necessary. We all encounter those times when it feels as if we’re facing our problems alone. Calling out to the Lord will allow us to experience His presence and feel the peace that only He can give.
One of the simplest, but most eloquent expressions of true contrition can be found in the Lord’s parable of the “Pharisee and the Tax Collector” in Luke 18. Praying in the temple, without lifting his eyes, this humble sinner prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Direct and to the point, we should make these words our own and pray them every day!
Saul of Tarsus, better known as Paul, was deeply affected by his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. During the 2nd of the 3 times that he relates this story in Acts 22, Paul mentions a question that he asked of the Lord. In reality, it is a prayer and one that we should pray frequently. “What shall I do, Lord?” That is something that we should ask God each day. Instead of telling the Lord what He can do for us, it would be nice to ask what we can do for Him. What is Your Will for me, Lord?
Sometimes it’s hard to find the words or the desire to forgive those who offend us. Since we know that we are always called to forgive, however, we must find a way. Here is a 10 word prayer first spoken by Jesus as He suffered on the cross. Remember it the next time you need to forgive someone. It expresses all that needs to be said! “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
The preceding examples, taken from the pages of the Bible, were designed to illustrate some of the qualities of effective and meaningful prayer. Humility, sincerity, and faith are important characteristics of prayers that are pleasing to God. Studying these examples can help us to enhance our prayers by incorporating some of the methods used by the holy men and women who have gone before us. By praying often and sincerely, we’ll get closer and closer to the Lord until one day we’ll be praying with the angels and saints in Heaven!
The Prayer Process: Gratitude, Awareness, Significant, Peace, Freedom, Others, and the Lord’s Prayer.
When you pray, begin by thanking God in a personal dialogue for whatever you are most grateful for today. Revisit the times in the past 24 hours when you were and were not the best version of yourself. Talk to God about these situations. Identify something you experienced today and explore what God might be trying to say to you through that event (or person). Ask God to forgive you for any wrong that you have committed (against yourself, another person, or Him) and to fill you with a deep and abiding peace. Speak with God about how He is inviting you to change your life, so that you can experience the freedom to be the best version of yourself. Lift up to God anyone you feel called to pray for today, asking God to bless and guide them in their journey with Him. Finish by praying the “Lord’s Prayer.”
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” — Matthew 6:5-6
“Remember who you are and whose you are!”
~ Michael Rector