Last week, we began a study of prayer. Let’s continue our study.
Prayers are to be offered for those who are unkind and unloving toward others. Jesus said, “But I say unto you which hear, ‘Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you’” (Luke 6:27-28). Children of God always will have those who malign them and cause them harm, just as the Lord did in his last hours on Earth. The cry “Crucify him, crucify him” was made, yet he still prayed, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). While it may not be easy to pray for those who have caused harm and hurt, it is a command from the Lord to do so.
Prayers should go beyond the physical well-being. The apostle Paul prayed for the saints at Ephesus: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:14 – 21).
Paul prayed for the hearts of those Christians. He wanted them to come to a true understanding of God’s love for them through Christ that they would come to know all the blessings of being in Christ. These are things that need to be prayed for today: that Christians might grow closer to God and be strengthened in their faith.
Those who pray in public should be careful that their prayers are not for show. Such prayers are without heart and empty, for they are only said to impress men. When public prayers are said in worship service, the one praying should lead the congregation in humble, reverent words that are directed to God and not to impress the hearers. It might be that specific individuals need to be named if they have asked for prayer on their behalf. If a prayer is to be for a specific purpose or person, that should be the subject of the prayer, not anything and everything that comes to mind. Public prayer is a time to lead the congregation concerning blessings desired and thankfulness to God for what has been done. It is not to be taken lightly.
The Lord instructed his disciples to not use “vain repetitions” as the heathen did (Matthew 6:7). Idol worshipers used phrases over and over in their prayers to the gods they served (1 Kings 18:25). When praying for others, vain repetitions can creep in without the user being aware. Repeating the same words in a prayer is not wrong if they are said from the heart. In times of great distress, the plea for God’s help might be repeated in all sincerity. In fact, Jesus did that in his prayers in Gethsemane. He prayed for the father’s will to be done, but if possible, let “this cup pass from me.” His words were said in earnest as he faced the death on the cross.
The problem comes when the words are empty and without heart. The mind of the one praying must be concentrating on what is needed. Remember pray from the heart.