The scene is the garden of Gethsemane the evening before Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus prays alone, sweating great drops of blood. He returns to His disciples and finds them sleeping. He admonishes Peter,
“What, could you not watch with me an hour? Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”(Matthew 26:40)
What could you not watch with me one hour?
What a piercing indictment!
Weakness in Prayer
Often I am like Peter. In my self-confidence, I’m not against praying, but I also don’t comprehend what is at stake nor the extent of my need. I can’t muster up enough energy or requests to pray 10 minutes, let alone an hour or more.
Both publicly and privately, we don’t pray because we don’t know what to pray. We are engaged in a balancing act of confidentially versus specific, effective prayers.
The Discipline of Prayer
Prayer is an exercise and discipline. Just like physical exercise, it is hard work, and rarely gets easier, and then only with practice. As we exercise we build strength and endurance. The same is true for prayer. The ability to pray comes from praying. The more we pray, the more we learn what and how to pray. We begin to find that the allotted time is not nearly enough to cover the multitude of needs around us.
The Bible contains the prayers and requests of David, Paul, Moses, Nehemiah and Jesus (among others). Reading and making notes of the prayers of men and women in the Bible primes our pump, giving ideas of specific requests to appropriate for the people and situations in our lives.
Biblical Prayer Requests
The following requests can be prayed for individuals and groups, in public and private prayers:
- Mercy from our authorities (Nehemiah 1:11)
- Vindication (Nehemiah 13:14 &31)
- For children to raise for the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11)
- God’s favor, established work (Psalm 90:17)
- Peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)
- Our persecutors (Matthew 5:44)
- God’s will to be accomplished (Matthew 6:10)
- Provision of daily bread (Matthew 6:11)
- Forgiveness and the ability to forgive (Matthew 6:12)
- Deliverance from evil, not led into temptation, (Matthew 6:13)
- Laborers for God’s harvest (Matthew 9:38)
- Practice the oneness of the Body (John 17:21)
- Honesty and integrity in dealings (2 Corinthians 13:7)
- Strengthened through the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16)
- Rooted and grounded in Christ’s love, filled with God’s fullness (Ephesians 4:14-19)
- Restoration (2 Corinthians 13:9)
- Know God’s will, spiritual understanding (Colossians 1:9)
- Walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him (Colossians 1:10)
- Fruitfulness in every good work (Colossians 1:10)
- Ability and willingness to boldly share the gospel (Ephesians 6:18-19)
- Government leaders’ salvation (1 Timothy 2:2)
- Strong Christian marriages that accurately portray Christ’s relationship with the Church (Ephesians 5:22-30)
- Wisdom (James 1:5)
- Word of God have free course and be glorified (2 Thessalonians 3:1)
- Deliverance from wicked men (2 Thessalonians 3:2)
- Effective sharing of our faith (Philemon 1:6)
- Clear conscience in all things (Hebrews 13:18)
- Good health for God’s workers (3 John 1:2)
- Our words and mediations be acceptable in God’s sight (Psalm 19:14)
Underlying all these requests is a desire for the glory of God, for the sanctification of believers, and for the salvation of unbelievers. So, imagine if we prayed these things for ourselves and others. How would our lives change? How would our world change?
Lord, teach us to pray.