My prayer jar is a small, handmade, paper-lantern-esque type concoction that a friend gave to me. Nestled inside are slips of paper with names scribbled in ink. With these in hand, I pray for the people in my life.
Petition the Lord with Thanksgiving
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 (NIV, emphasis mine)
I often forget this very important part of prayer. Gratitude. When I’m praying for people, I can get so caught up in laying out their burdens before the Lord, offering an outline of how they’re struggling and what I think He should do about it, that I forget to thank Him. Thank Him for not always answering my prayers how I think He should, but so often going beyond what I could imagine (Eph. 3:20). Thank Him for not sticking to my timeline, but to His own. Thank Him for already moving to answer the very prayers still on my lips (Isaiah 65:24).
The truth is, He knows what I’m going to ask before I ask it. Yet He listens, anyway, because His love is that great. So I thank Him for attending to the prayer of one such as I, and then I thank Him for the person I’m praying for — and I thank Him for answering, whether or not it’s how or when or where I want the answer.
Sometimes it’s all too easy for me to remember to ask for His will to be done and His kingdom to come while at the same time forgetting that these willing hands of mine might be the instrument He wishes to use to accomplish that today. So I decide to listen. Is Jesus whispering anything to my heart?
How can I serve the people I am praying for today? Is there a Scripture I can text to my friend or write on their Facebook wall or tag them with on Twitter? Is there an opportunity for me to bake something for my family member when I know they’re worried about job stresses? Is there another way I can listen to how He wants me to be a small answer to my own prayer for them?
When I first learned that I could pray Scripture, I did it all the time. It seemed like such a simple way to “ensure” my prayers were purposeful and according to God’s will. This method of prayer also appealed to me because of the ease with which one can adopt it. Your prayer is already written for you!
Here are some passages that make great prayers for other people (there are many, many more you can use as prayers for yourself!):
- We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
- –Jesus, I pray that ____ would have a Truth-filled mind today. Banish the lies. Demolish the arguments and every pretension…teach _____ how to take captive every thought and lie and make it obedient to You.
- And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)
- –Lord, I pray for ____ today. Establish ____ in love. Show her, together with the saints in her life, how to grasp how wide and long and high and deep Your love is, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge. I pray that ____ may be filled to the measure of all Your fullness.
- And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1: 9-11 (NIV)
- –God, my prayer is that ____’s love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that ____ may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to Your glory and praise.
I tend to favor the letters of Paul (maybe because he so often talked about how he prayed for the people to whom he wrote), but the Bible is full of prayers you can pray for the people in your life.
Do you have passages you’ve prayed? Share them in a comment below!
Resources on Prayer
“For many years I was bothered by the thought that I was a failure at prayer. Then one day I realized I would always be a failure at prayer; and I’ve gotten along much better ever since!” -Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
“In almost every TV or radio interview I take part in concerning prayer, I’m usually asked to share one step a woman can take right away to begin making prayer a reality in her life. And my answer is always the same — She must desire it'” -Elizabeth George, A Young Woman’s Call to Prayer
“Effectual, fervent prayer is how God changes this world and bestows upon it the beauty, grace, and power that He purchased at the cross.” -Eric and Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer
“I can tell you this: when you start spending time alone with God every day, you will never be the same. Friend, that’s a money-back guarantee.” -Diane Moody, Confessions of a Prayer Slacker