I’m thinking about prayer this week. In our leadership meeting last week, our pastor said that we would be discussing prevailing prayer in the coming weeks. So I downloaded D.L. Moody’s book, Prevailing Prayer, to fill my mind with good instruction and background.
Moody says there are several elements to prevailing prayer. I encourage you to purchase his book for details. (At this writing it is only $.99 on Amazon Kindle). In this post, I’m looking at the elements of prevailing prayer through the lens of prayers in scripture.
Then the leaders of the Levites…called out to the people: “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting!” Then they prayed: “May your glorious name be praised! May it be exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you.”Nehemiah 9:5-6 NLT
At the time of the sacrifice, I stood up from where I had sat in mourning with my clothes torn. I fell to my knees and lifted my hands to the Lord my God. I prayed, “O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin. That is why we and our kings and our priests have been at the mercy of the pagan kings of the land. We have been killed, captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today. … And now, O our God, what can we say after all of this? For once again we have abandoned your commands!”Ezra 9:5-7, 10 NLT
Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors, for you have given me wisdom and strength. You have told me what we asked of you and revealed to us what the king demanded.”Daniel 2:19-23 NLT
Then the Lord said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.” But Moses tried to pacify the Lord his God. “O Lord!” he said. “Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand? Why let the Egyptians say, ‘Their God rescued them with the evil intention of slaughtering them in the mountains and wiping them from the face of the earth’? Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people! Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You bound yourself with an oath to them, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. And I will give them all of this land that I have promised to your descendants, and they will possess it forever.’”Exodus 32:9-13 NLT
But Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the Lord had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land. The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. … But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!2 Chronicles 33:9-13 NLT
There are other ways of thinking about prevailing prayer and many other examples in scripture as examples.
Tim Keller, in his book, Center Church, writes,
Maintenance prayer meetings are short, mechanical, and focused on physical needs inside the church. In contrast, the three basic traits of frontline prayer are these:Keller, Center Church, p.73
1) A request for grace to confess sins and to humble ourselves;
2) A compassion and zeal for the flourishing of the church and the reaching of the lost;
3) A yearning to know God, to see his face to glimpse his glory.
Bottom line – we need to pray. And we need to learn to pray more effectively. But understand, there is nothing wrong with our ordinary prayers. Prayer is a conversation with God, much like a conversation with a dear friend – we should never feel shame in our conversations. But when teachers suggest we are going to discuss prayer, how to pray, learning how to pray more effectively, I immediately feel very self-conscious about my prayers. Maybe you do as well. I don’t mind praying aloud in groups but I shudder at the idea that others are judging my prayers. My “out loud, off the cuff” prayers, are quite simple, not elegant, lack the phrasing that I would use if I had written out my prayers. And I do like to write prayers. I just don’t do that often enough!
Do you have a favorite prayer in scripture that you go to often?
If so, would you share it with me? I’d love to hear from you!
It seems only right to end this post with a prayer –
Father, great is your glory, your splendor, your majesty! We are in awe that the God of the universe is mindful of us. We praise you for your kindness, goodness, and mercy. Your faithfulness to us never fails! You are mighty in power, your right hand is both merciful and mighty. And we are grateful to be in your grip!
Permeate our lives with a vision of your glory, your might! Teach us to walk in your light, to follow well, to listen, and heed your commandments. Teach us to love your law, to soak up your words. Humble us, Lord, as we read your word, as we see your holiness and our sinfulness. Make us more aware of our idols, the things we hold more dear than we do you. Forgive us, Lord, for not loving you with our whole hearts, for not loving our neighbors as you love us. Forgive our selfishness and pride. May we bow in submission to your rule and reign in our lives.
Father, as you open avenues for service, motivate us, equip us, encourage us to walk those paths. May we be bold to proclaim your name, your goodness, your salvation to all you put in our paths. Help us especially to attend to the needs of the weak, the poor, the elderly, the widows, the orphans. Teach us, Lord, how to lay down our rights in order to serve others well. Help us to hold lightly the stuff of life so that we are able to give sacrificially for the flourishing of all your children.
May we sing for joy to you, shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. You are a great God, the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, the land, and all that is! We bow down in worship for you are our God! Amen.