Day 16 – Nine Prayers of Paul
Effective Prayer Podcast, by Colin Dye
Now as well as praying for individual people for a whole range of situations, the nine prayers of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament give us a number of themes which we should adopt in our own prayer life. In fact, there are eight of them. Let me go through with them.
Number #1, the Apostle Paul most frequently prays for knowledge. He prays that the people will be filled with what knowledge, whatever knowledge that they needed. For example, in Ephesians 1:17 he prays that the Ephesians would receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, and he goes on to say in verse 18, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
And so here he is praying for the revelation of the knowledge of Him. The NIV says, “that you may know Jesus better.” So that’s a very good thing to pray.
Actually, if you took this study seriously, it would transform your prayer life. you would never be without something to pray. You would always know what to pray. And if you are leading people and in your leadership you are developing this, you need to pray this, that the people who are under your care will have knowledge, they would have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation for the knowledge of Him, to know Him better, and without that Spirit of wisdom and revelation, they are not going to grow.
You would also pray that they would also know what it is the hope of their calling and receive enlightenment to understand this. They will know the riches of Christ’s inheritance; they will know the vastness of His love.
What a great prayer in Ephesians 3:18. “that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.”
Yes, a very good prayer request. And he also prays in Colossians 1:9 that they should know and have an understanding of God and wisdom in that, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
What a powerful prayer! You can pray that prayer over every new convert until they are established. And then there are so many other aspects to the things that the Apostle Paul prays when he talks about them needing to come into knowledge; however, I want to point out to you that Paul uses the Greek word for knowledge—gnosis—with the intensifying suffix—epi—epignosis. Now epignosis does not just mean “knowledge.” It means “full knowledge.” Full knowledge, full experiential knowledge. In other words, He prays for them to experience these things in the manner, in the fullest manner possible.
But there are two exceptions, and I’ll just pause to show you those two exceptions to show you that there is a reason. One I’ve just read, from Ephesians 3:18, “that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and depth and height, and to know this love which surpasses knowledge.” So of course he can’t use epignosis there because he describes this knowledge as beyond your understanding. It surpasses your knowledge.
And then in the other example we have is Ephesians 1:18, the very first part of the verse, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” And here he doesn’t use the Greek word epignosis; he uses another word dianoia, which means to stress, to stress that the hope is a present understanding of the future. So this hope will come to pass, but it cannot be fully known now because it hasn’t arrived yet. So you can only know your future hope in a kind of small way, by way of foretaste.
And so the Apostle Paul uses his words very, very, very carefully here as he acknowledges that we need to move in the revelation and the knowledge of the Holy Spirit, and there are times—many times—when we can pray, “Lord, I want to know fully these things,” and other times we have to back off and say, “Not even all the revelation this side of heaven will give me the full understanding of that. So that’s a very helpful understanding of New Testament principles as well as point us to prayer.
Now something else we find that the Apostle Paul mentions very strongly in his prayers, secondly, is strength. He wants the people for whom he is praying to become strong—Ephesians 3:16, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.” So here he is talking about being strengthened and he wants us to be made strong. He wants the people of God to be filled in their hearts, strong in the inner person, not just outward strength. They are to be made strong in the inner person.
In Colossians 1:11 he prays that we would be made powerful with the power of God’s might. Colossians 1:11, “strengthened with all might,” strong prayer, isn’t it? “According to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.” Now why does he pray for such power and such strength? He says because you’re going to need it. You’re going to need patience, you’re going to need longsuffering, and you’re going to need to be strong to endure the things that He is going to call you to endure.
Now when…remember, all of this teaching is flowing from a person who practiced what he preached. He practiced what he prayed. He could say, “Follow my example as I follow Christ.” And so he says, “I am praying for you that you will be strengthened in your inner person. I am praying for you that you will be strengthened according to all God’s glorious power.” Why? That you would learn patience and endurance. I have had to learn it, and if you’re going to follow Christ and carry your cross, you’re going to have to learn it as well.
Oh, we don’t have some kind of cozy prayer session here, do we? Here we have a man who has paid the price, a man who has stood firm in the midst of trial and circumstances and difficulties, and then finally and ultimately acknowledges that all those who want to be godly in Christ Jesus are going to suffer persecutions and tribulations, and that’s just the good news, because God is with you and will strengthen you.
One more verse, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, he prayed that we would be strong and established. Well, actually he was praying for the Thessalonians, but this prayer applies to us and it shows us how we should pray, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, “that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
So he prays that we—or he’s not praying for us, as I’ve just said, but let’s just skip that for a moment. It’s the kind of prayer God has on His heart for us, that we should be made strong, holy and blameless, ready to face Jesus at His second coming. That is a very great prayer request that you can make for yourself and the people that you are leading, for the believers that are in your care, for yourself and for others, that we should be strengthened in the inner man, with all His might, to face our circumstances with patience and endurance, and we should be finally blameless and holy and pure before Jesus when He returns.
Now number #3, another great theme of the Apostle Paul’s praying is love. It is love. In fact, love is the answer. You’re not going to find anything more elevated in the Apostle Paul’s writings that love. You’ve not going to find anything more elevated anywhere in God’s mind and estimation than love. Nothing is going to be more important than heaven than love. Even God is love—hallelujah—and so when we pray, we pray out of love and we pray for love.
The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 3:17, says, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love.” In other words, he wants our lives to be grounded in love. And you can pray this for people. How marvelous it is. We need so much more love in the Body of Christ. How marvelous it is that when you begin to pray like this, God will hear your prayer and He will move and pour out His love in the hearts and lives of people?
And then in Philippians 1:9, he prays that that love would flow out, and that it would be an experience not just for the people themselves, but that it would overflow to others. Philippians 1:9, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.” In other words, he wants it to abound. He wants it to overflow, that not that it just infects them, but it infects other people around them. Of course this love is God’s agape love. It’s the love which is unconditional. It’s the love that can only ever really come from God himself.
And now in Philippians 1:10, the Apostle Paul prays another similar prayer to what we’ve had, Philippians 1:10, “that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense at the day of Christ.” Let’s look at this in more detail. He wants us to be sincere and without offense, meaning, to be pure. The word “sincere” means “unmixed.” Unmixed, so in other words this prayer is a prayer in which the Holy Spirit will come and deal with mixed motives and purify ourselves so that we will be ready to see Jesus.
Wow. This kind of prayer is very important. Can you see now if you are leading people to Christ and if you are teaching them the things of God, can you see if you are wanting them to mature in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, can you see that the most important thing is to pray for them very specifically? And I think you could very well find over every person that you’re praying some specific verse—you could even take them from these passages of Paul’s prayers, and you can pray that something would happen. That’s powerful praying. That’s lining up with the will of God.
And the other word, which means “without offense” means that there is everything removed from you that displeases God. What wonderful praying this is. Wouldn’t you want somebody to be praying this over your life? God will be calling you to do that for you, but also for others. He wants us to be pure and blameless.
Now in Colossians 1:10 he describes that this kind of life, a life that is worthy, brings pleasure to God. That’s what is behind Paul’s praying. Colossians 1:10, “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Do you see that phrase “fully pleasing to Him”? We want to be fully pleasing Him. That’s what we want, isn’t it? And when we pray like that, God will work.
He prayed in 2 Corinthians for the believers to be perfect; 2 Corinthians 13:9, “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete.” Some translations: perfect. He is not talking about the perfection of having no sin. He uses a word which means “complete.” Completely restored. In other words, every part of our lives being restored and made ready. The word here is “resorted to a place of usefulness, to be made ready.” He says, “I want you to be ready for what God has for you.” “Oh Lord,” he would pray, “strengthen those believers, make them strong, Lord. Restore them in every part of their lives so that the might be ready to serve you with all of their life.”
So that they might be ready to minister the gospel. You see, the Apostle Paul is always concerned about the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the reason why he is praying. He has but one passion, and His name is Jesus. He has but one purpose, and that is to make Him known. And that comes through in all of his prayers.
Are you beginning to get the message as we read these prayers and study them? Are you beginning to get the message? And the message is this: The Apostle Paul shows that most of our praying is shabby and selfish. It’s about the petty needs and comforts of daily life. now please don’t misunderstand me. God is concerned about every detail. He is not a God who is so small that the big requests are beyond His ability; neither is He a God that is so big that the tiny requests are beyond His interest. Not at all.
He is the big God who is concerned with every detail of your life, and it is right to pray about everything. Paul says, Philippians 4:6 to pray about everything, “in everything with supplication,” in everything with prayer, yes. Pray about everything.
But what we are talking about here is a balance. If all we ever pray about is the things which concern us and not the things which concern God, if we cannot get down on our knees on a daily basis and pray concerning the issues of salvation to a lost and dying world, then I don’t know that we’ve even remembered that we ourselves needed prayers like that once. We ourselves have been subject to the mercy and the grace of God.
So the Apostle Paul prays, “I want you restored. I need you back in the army. I need you to slide back to Jesus so that you become strong in your faith once more and let the world know that Jesus is alive and He’s restored you.”
Number #5, we’ve already seen this in part. The Apostle Paul prays that people will be worthy. He wanted his leaders to live in such a way that they would reflect the worthy character of God and live in such a way.
Number #6, righteousness. He prayed that the people would be filled with the fruit of righteousness. Philippians 1:11, Holy Spirit prays there again clearly for this righteousness to come, “being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” What a wonderful prayer. I think we could pray that prayer and really mean business when we do.
Now what kind of righteousness is he talking about? He’s talking about the fruits of righteousness. The free gift of righteousness comes to us by faith in Jesus Christ. The fruits of righteousness are the things that flow from that. Amen.
Then he prays that there should be good results from our labors. Paul prayed that his readers might bear fruit in good works. Colossians 1:10, we come back to that verse again and again—“that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work.” Being fruitful in every good work. By praying for ourselves and others we can bring fruitfulness, but I find this in my ministry. I have no problem with being busy. I have no problem with hard work. I work hard and I love working hard. I am working hard for Jesus. But sometimes minister and leaders, we can be so taken up with our busyness that it leads to barrenness, and I want to encourage you, every leader who is watching this video or receiving this transmission, I want to tell you: stop being so busy and get down on your knees and pray. Be released from the barrenness of busyness. Get on your face before God and pray and then the fruitfulness is going to come.
Every project that we have…and I am managing personally right now almost 175 different projects right now in my ministry. I’m not doing it all by myself, as is obvious, but I am managing them. I need to know the beginning, the middle, and the end, and I tell you, the way to manage them is to get down on your knees, disappear out from sight, take the phone off the hook, and pray. There in the secret place you can be in 175 different places at once, because the Holy Spirit is not limited, bound by circumstances, situations, times, dates, or geography. Results. When we want to be powerfully active, which is the word used in Colossians 1:10 energes, powerfully active. In other words, effective in sharing our faith.
That’s what this series is all about—effective praying. We don’t want to pray if it’s pointless, fruitless, empty prayers. God wants you to learn to pray effectively, by the energy of the Holy Spirit, with the results that we seek. It’s effective prayer. We need to be effective. What’s the point of praying if it doesn’t work? What’s the point of praying if we’re asking God to do something and it’s just a game?
No, we want to pray for fruitfulness to come, but even before that, more important than that, finally is this eighth principle that I find from Paul’s praying, is the theme of glory. Oh yes, we’re back there again. The theme of glory. Paul prayed that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ might be glorified in us as in Him. Second Thessalonians 1:11-12,
Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This summarizes everything. This tells us his prayer motivation. His desire is to see Jesus Christ glorified, and in these verses he uses a Greek construction which stresses the present possibility of this experience. He is not praying for pie in the sky. He says, “I want to see Jesus Christ glorified now.” That’s why we’re left on this earth, and if we pray with that motive above everything else, all the other aspects of prayer fall into place.
That’s why we begin, as Jesus taught us, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” We begin with the glory of God, who He is, and the whole purpose of our praying is that, and so he knows that as we pray and learn to pray like that, the glory of Jesus Christ will be a present experience just as it will be a future experience, as he says in 2 Thessalonians 1:10, “when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.”
He says, “That’s going to happen. Jesus is going to return and He is going to be glorified in all those who believe, but before then my prayer is that He will glorify Himself in you.” Let it be. Let it be. Let it be. Amen. Hallelujah, indeed. Well, God bless you. That’s the end of this session today, and we’re going to come back for further session on effective prayer. God bless you. As you take this material away with you, let it burn in your heart and God give you an effective prayer life. Amen. God bless you.
That concludes today’s teaching on Effective Prayer, and I pray that you have been blessed by the teaching from the Word of God in this most vital subject and that God has been developing your prayer life. Next time we’re going to go deeper into the subject. Good bye. God bless you.