Nicole’s post from last week reminded me of what my long-time friend Nancy Loftness calls “praying work.”
Nancy’s a woman who loves God’s Word, loves to pray, and deeply cares for people. When she found that she didn’t have time to pray for everyone she wanted to pray for during her morning quiet time, she came up with a plan.
She thought about her regular chores that didn’t require any thinking or talking—such as ironing, cleaning the bathroom, or driving by herself—and she turned those into times for prayer on behalf of friends, family, members of her church and the unsaved. Praying work.
Just imagine how many requests Nancy has brought before the throne of grace while in her car or working around her house!
Consider your week: what tasks can you turn into “praying work”?
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…” Ephesians 5:16
“No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.” Charles Spurgeon
Sometimes, we can grow weary of praying for our loved ones. We get discouraged, or begin to doubt God’s desire or ability to save. We must prepare for such temptations and be ready to fight for faith and persevere in prayer.
Two wise pastors are here to help! A.W. Tozer and C.H. Spurgeon remind us to look to Christ and His work in our lives to strengthen our faith:
“Unbelief says, ‘Some other time, but not now; some other place, but not here; some other people, but not us.’ Faith says, ‘Anything He did anywhere else He will do here; anything He did any other time He is willing to do now; anything He ever did for other people He is willing to do for us!’” A.W. Tozer
“Mighty to Save” Isaiah 63:1
“Christ is not only ‘mighty to save’ those who repent, but He is able to make men repent. He will carry those to heaven who believe; but He is, moreover, mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty to make the man who hates holiness love it, and to constrain the despiser of His name to bend the knee before Him….Believer, here is encouragement. Art thou praying for some beloved one? Oh, give not up thy prayers, for Christ is ‘mighty to save.’ You are powerless to reclaim the rebel, but your Lord is Almighty. Lay hold on that mighty arm and rouse it to put forth its strength…Whether to begin with others, or to carry on the work in you, Jesus is ‘mighty to save;’ the best proof of which lies in the fact that He has saved you.” Charles Spurgeon
Put these “keepers” (and other faith-building verses) where you will see them often. Regular reminders of God’s power and faithfulness will spur us on in expectant prayer!
Karen sent us two great questions about The FAM Club. We’ll take the first one today:
Hi girltalkers – I have just had my first time of prayer and fasting as part of the FAM club and I have to admit to finding myself a little perplexed. I am struggling with knowing how to really pray for those who are unsaved. More than just “Lord please save so and so” which is done in 2 minutes. I know lots of verses to pray for believers but nothing much in the same vein for unbelievers.
I love your desire to pray meaningful, biblical prayers for your loved ones!
Scripture—since it is the story of God’s plan of salvation—is full of verses we can pray back to Him. Any verse that extols God’s saving power, that describes his saving work can be turned into a prayer that He would do the same, through Jesus Christ, for our loved ones.
We’d encourage you, as you read Scripture, to look for verses that celebrate God’s saving work and power, jot them down in a place where you can easily find them again, and turn them into prayers for your loved ones.
Matthew Henry has a wonderful collection of Scriptures for this purpose, and here’s a sampling of verses and Scripture-based prayers we’ve used to help you get started. We hope they inform and invigorate your prayer time for your family:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekial 36:26
“O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction of my kindred. Let those that are united to me in tender ties be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory…. Let not those of my family who are amiable, moral, attractive, fall short of heaven at last; Grant that the promising appearances of a tender conscience, soft heart, the alarms and delights of thy Word, be not finally blotted out, but bring forth judgment unto victory in all whom I love.” -Valley of Vision
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1
“But to the disciples he said, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see.” (Matthew 13:16) Do you have “blessed eyes”? The new birth is the gift of “blessed eyes.” This is what Paul was sent to do in the power of Christ: “I am sending you to open their eyes” (Acts 26:18). And once we have “blessed eyes,” we pray for the fullest use of them every day. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalms 119:18) Nothing is more important for joy and love and worship than the gift of “blessed eyes.” O pray for blessed eyes.” -John Piper
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14
“Apply Your redemption to their hearts, by justifying their persons, and sanctifying their natures. Teach them to place their happiness in Thee, the blessed God, never seeking life among the dead things of earth, or asking for that which satisfies the deluded; but may they prize the light of Thy smile, implore the joy of Thy salvation, find their heaven in Thee.” -Valley of Vision
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!” Psalm 67:1-2
Recently, I’ve been encouraged in my practice of prayer by a new website: an online edition of Matthew Henry’s Method of Prayer. His method, quite simply, is to “pray the Bible” and so the website is full of prayers composed almost entirely of Scripture.
“A Scriptural manner of praying,” says editor Ligon Duncan, “provides the order, proportion, and variety which should characterize all our prayers.”
So there are prayers of adoration, of confession of thanksgiving and intercession. There are also prayers for many occasions: morning and evening, and for Sundays and more specifically: “For Those Weighed Down and Burdened” or “For Parents Concerned About Their Difficult Children” or “For Those Who are Sick and Weak.”
Here’s a portion from the prayer “For Women Near the Time of Childbirth:”
“Be thou her strong habitation, her rock, and her fortress, give commandment to save her. Ps. 71.3 And when travail comes upon her, which she cannot escape, be pleased, O Lord, to deliver her; 1 Thess. 5:3 O Lord, make haste to help her; Ps. 40:13 be thou thyself her help and deliverer, make no tarrying, O our God. Ps. 40:17 Let her be safely delivered and remember the anguish no more, for joy that a child is born into the world, is born unto thee. Jn.16:21”
I also love the “Short Forms of Prayer” which includes prayers that are easier for children to pray, or for families to pray together. So if you want to grow in your practice of prayer—and who doesn’t?—let me encourage you to check out this site today.
For over ten years I’ve had this verse and comments by Charles Spurgeon on a scrap of paper taped to my computer monitor at work or pinned to my bulletin board at home. If your soul is burdened today (especially you battle-weary moms) I pray these words encourage you to rest in God.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” Psalm 37:5-6
“Commit your way” literally means to “roll your burden” and so Mr. Spurgeon urges us to:
“Roll the whole burden of life upon the Lord. Leave with Jehovah not thy present fretfulness merely, but all thy cares; in fact, submit the whole tenor of thy way to him. Cast away anxiety, resign thy will, submit thy judgment, leave all with the God of all….The ploughman sows and harrows, and then leaves the harvest to God. What can he do else? He cannot cover the heavens with clouds, or command the rain, or bring forth the sun or create the dew. He does well to leave the whole matter with God; and so to all of us it is truest wisdom, having obediently trusted in God, to leave results in his hands and expect a blessed issue.”
Pastor Ligon Duncan has “Some Initial Thoughts on Praying for President-Elect Obama.”
(HT: Justin Taylor)
Today David Powlison guest-posts at Between Two Worlds and his thoughts on prayer have the potential to raise the noise level of your quiet times (yes, moms with toddlers, that is possible!). Here’s an excerpt, but you really need to read the entire article for yourself:
”It’s fair to say that having a “quiet time” is a misnomer. We should more properly have a “noisy time.” By talking out loud we live the reality that we are talking with another person, not simply talking to ourselves inside our own heads….I’ve known many people whose relationship with God was significantly transformed as they started to speak up with their Father. Previously, “prayer” fizzled out in the internal buzz of self-talk and distractions, worries and responsibilities. Previously, what they thought of as prayer involved certain religious feelings, or a set of seemingly spiritual thoughts, or a vague sense of comfort, awe, and dependency on a higher power. Prayer meandered, and was virtually indistinguishable from thoughts, sometimes indistinguishable from anxieties and obsessions. But as they began to talk aloud to the God who is there, who is not silent, who listens, and who acts, they began to deal with him person-to-person….Out loud prayer became living evidence of an increasingly honest and significant relationship. As they became vocal, their faith was either born or grew up.”
In difficulty, my first question is often “Why?” I can be tempted to demand an answer from God. Sometimes He makes his purposes clear: in many cases, our trials are indeed “preparation for the task.” But God is not obligated, nor does He always tell us why.
But there is another question He will always answer, as JI Packer asserts in his new book: Praying the Lord’s Prayer:
“If you ask, ‘Why is this or that happening?’ no light may come, for ‘the secret things belong to the Lord our God’ (Deuteronomy 29:29); but if you ask, ‘How am I to serve and glorify God here and now, where I am?’ there will always be an answer.”
Our Father in heaven will show us how to glorify Him, if we simply ask, ready to obey. So which question are you asking today?
“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21
Not only when we are at our wits’ end, but even when we have our wits about us, we should pray. Not only when we are sad, but even when we are happy we should approach the throne of grace. Not only in adversity, but also in prosperity, we should make our requests known to God.
There is never a moment of our lives when we do not need God’s help and mercy. For that reason, we should always pray. It has been said of Mr. Spurgeon that he never prayed more than five minutes at a time. But he never went more than five minutes without praying. We would do well to follow his example.
So why don’t we make full use of the two short and comprehensive prayers found in Psalm 30:10: “Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!” and “O Lord, be my helper!” We do not have to find extra time in our day or even stop what we are doing; we can offer up these brief petitions anytime, anywhere. Let’s not wait another five minutes to seek the Lord in prayer.
A mother of multiple young children recently approached me: “My children are driving me crazy right now!” she confessed. “Do you have any help for me?”
After attempting to offer a couple of practical tips for her situation, I sought to remind her of the One who is our “very present help” and encouraged her to pour out her heart to Him, just as the psalmist, David did in Psalm 30:8: “To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy.”
Charles Spurgeon expanded on this verse: “Prayer is the unfailing resource of God’s people. If they are driven to their wits’ end, they may still go to the mercy-seat. Let us never forget to pray, and let us never doubt the success of prayer. Prayer will succeed where all else fails.”
Maybe it’s your little children, or your not-so-little children. Possibly it’s your in-laws or an aged parent. Or perhaps it is your boss or your co-workers. Are you feeling at your “wits end” with any relationship at present? Let’s not view our “wits’ end” as an end per say, but a beginning—the very point at which we cry out to the Lord for mercy. In fact, we should perceive our wits’ end as really a wonderful place to be—it’s the place where we have no other recourse but to cry out to God for help. And consider what will happen as we do: “They…were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.” Ps. 107:27, 28