I have just moved from the Pacific Northwest (where I've spent my entire life) to Colorado. I am separated from friends who are going through difficult struggles and I can't do anything but send little encouraging notes and pray. I know the Bible says the prayers of a righteous man affect much although I'm not sure how. I can't say I am altogether righteous...well, perhaps I am since Jesus has covered all my sins and can present me to the Father holy and acceptable. But still, there is some mystery to prayer. How does it work; how do we make it work? If we just get the words right, have enough of our spiritual house in order, or come with the proper attitude, does God listen then? Is God simply a big "vending machine in the sky" where, as long as we put the proper things in, we can push His buttons to get what we want? Uh...no!
We know the Holy Spirit intervenes on our behalf so, when we do not know how to pray, he takes our prayers before the throne of God and presents them. Does that mean I should not pray specifically and only pray, "Holy Spirit, you know the concerns, please take them to God for me. Amen"? That doesn't seem right either.
Several years ago I began a study on Biblical prayers. I had just come from a Bible study where it seemed every prayer was for health issues, travel mercies, employment problems, and school concerns. I was suddenly fed up with the lack of spiritual depth in our corporate prayer times. I determined to do a word study on prayer to see what Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament authors prayed. Now, please don't get me wrong. I don't think God wants us to stop praying for upcoming surgeries, trips, job interviews, and exams, but we would be wise to see what prayers are recorded in the Bible as examples.
Take this one from Col. 1:10-11. "...pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."
Wow! Now there's a prayer. I'm not sure about you, but I wish someone would pray that for me.
And so, to close, here is my prayer for my precious friends who are struggling right now...you know who you are.
Eph. 3: 14-20
"...I bow my knees before the Father...that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God, beyond all we ask or think, according to the power that works within us."