Making Our Prayer Requests More Biblical

David Powlison:

…  the Bible’s prayers are rarely about health, travel mercies, finances, doing well on a test, finding a job, or the salvation of unsaved relatives. Of course, these are legitimate things to pray for, but they are a minor emphasis in Scripture. Even so, these topics typically dominate most church and small group prayer requests. They easily miss the real action of God’s dealings with his beloved people.

In contrast, the driving focus of biblical prayer asks God to show himself, asks that we will know him, asks that we will love others.

It names our troubles.

It names our troublesome reactions and temptations.

It names our holy desires.

It names our God, his promises, and his will.

When someone asks, “How may I pray for you?” Powlison asks us to imagine the impact of responding like this:

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and have been inattentive and irritable to those nearest and dearest to me. Please pray for me, that I will awaken and turn from my preoccupation with work pressures, recreations, health problems, or money. God promises to help me pay attention to him. Ask him to help me remember and focus. Ask him to help me to take my family and other people to heart. Pray that I will take refuge in him when the pressure is on. The Lord is my refuge, but I’ve been taking refuge in TV and food.

He also answers the question, “How can we help people change the way they make prayer requests?”

First and foremost, model what it’s like to be in touch with where you really need God’s mercies, strength, and wisdom.

Second, help God’s people to study what the Bible shows and tells about prayer. Learning to pray is not mainly about how often we pray, or the techniques and elements that go into prayer. It is about how to need the right things, and how look in the right direction for what you need. What is the Lord’s Prayer asking for?  What are the Psalms asking for? What about God comes into view in the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms? This is what we ought to be asking for from others, and how we ought to be praying for each other.

Read the whole thing here.

[via Justin Taylor]

more on prayer as a means of grace

Romans 15:30-31

Consider Romans 15:30-31.

30 Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints

Paul’s preservation and acceptable service are seen as dependent upon on what God is pleased to do through the prayers of his people.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Here is Paul again in 2 Corinthians 1.

8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. (2 Cor. 1:8-11)

Paul viewed prayer as a means through which the people of God could help each other. The help that comes through prayer, however, is divine help in the form of deliverance from affliction, burden, and despair. Prayer is a means through which divine favors are bestowed upon God’s people.

Ephesians 1:15-17

Here is Paul in Ephesians 1.

15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. (Eph. 1:15-17)

Paul’s prayer had this goal in mind, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.” This clearly implies that our Father in heaven does something to elect and believing souls on the earth through prayer.

from (title unknown)

Copyright ©Monergism Books

The Hidden Life of Prayer

by David M’Intyre

Also Available in Kindle .mobi and ePub formats (Free eBook!)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1, The Life of Prayer.
Chapter 2, The Equipment.
Chapter 3, The Direction of the Mind.
Chapter 4, The Engagement: Worship.
Chapter 5, The Engagement: Confession.
Chapter 6, The Engagement: Request.
Chapter 7, The Hidden Riches of the Secret Place.
Chapter 8, The Open Recompense.
Footnotes, Footnotes to all chapters.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the statutes of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much pure gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
King David (Psalm 19:7-10)
Holy and gracious Father, apart from the gospel, there’s no way I would be able to join King David in singing this robust praise song about your law. Indeed, if Jesus hadn’t offered his law-keeping as my own, and if he hadn’t taken my law-breaking as his own, I would not be singing; I would be despairing.
     For apart from the gospel, the law didn’t revive me; it condemned me. Apart from the gospel, it didn’t give joy to my heart; it brought terror to my soul. Apart from the gospel, the law wasn’t like the sunshine lighting my way; it was only a searchlight exposing my sin.
     The law didn’t lead me to fear you with an affectionate reverence but to be afraid of you with a guilty conscience. Apart from the gospel, I didn’t value the law like precious gold; I avoided it like a deadly plague. It wasn’t sweeter than honey from the comb but more bitter than zest from a lemon.
     But Father, when the law drove me to Jesus—when you gave me faith to trust Jesus as my forgiveness and my righteousness, everything began to change. I’m now learning to love your law as fatherly instruction to your beloved children, as a revelation of the good, the true, and the beautiful, not as a formula for merit, acceptance, and favor. What a difference—what a life-giving, liberty-fueling difference!
     May the gospel continue to free me from “cheap grace” which ignores your law and from graceless legalism which ignores your Son. I want to continue growing in the obedience of faith and love until the day when Jesus, who has perfectly fulfilled the law for me, perfectly fulfills the law in me. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ holy and loving name.

"The Hidden Life of Prayer" by David McIntyre FREE - [audiobook]

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Finally, a word about The Hidden Life of Prayer:

The Hidden Life of Prayer

This classic was written by David McIntyre (sometimes spelled M’Intyre) who lived from 1859 to 1938. McIntyre was a Scottish preacher who succeeded Andrew Bonar as minister in Finnieston and later served as principal of the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow from 1913 to 1938. His book was first published in 1913. He describes the book’s purpose in his preface: “Books on secret prayer are without number; but it seems to me that there is still room for one in which an appeal may be taken, steadily, and from every point, to life—to the experience of God’s saints.”

One publisher’s introduction to the book says this: “Upon the foundation of biblical teaching, M’Intyre piles example after example of what has been helpful and effective in the prayer lives of many Christians, from Augustine to Spurgeon. The result is a handbook for prayer based both on Scripture and on the time-tested wisdom of God’s people through the centuries. Reading this book will, therefore, give you an abundance of counselors (Proverbs 11:14) to help you toward a victorious prayer life.” 

We pray thee,
assist us in all the religious services of this thine own holy day.

Go along with us to the solemn assembly,
for if thy presence go not up with us,
wherefore should we go up?

Give us to draw nigh to thee with a true heart,
with a free heart,
with a fixed heart,
and in full assurance of faith.

Meet us with a blessing:
Grace thine own ordinances with thy presence,
that special presence of thine which thou hast promised where two or three are gathered together in thy name.

Help us against our manifold infirmities,
and the sins that do most easily beset us in our attendance upon thee;
let thy word come with life and power to our souls,
and be as good seed sown in good soil,
taking root,
and bringing forth fruit to thy praise;
and let our prayers and praises be spiritual sacrifices,
acceptable in thy sight,
through Christ Jesus.

Matthew Henry

(“A Family Prayer for Lord’s Day Morning” in A Method For Prayer)


Dustin Neeley 

As most of you know, ministry is tough. And it isn’t just the long hours and fallen world that make it tough. It is also the emotional toll that it takes on the pastor and his family. These obstacles, unresolved conflicts, wounds from the past, and other difficult interactions naturally occurring in pastoral ministry create a perfect storm of bitterness that can cripple a pastor, his family and his church. While most of us already know that bitterness is a sin, what many of us don’t know is how to effectively deal with it in a gospel way. Here are a few suggestions to help:


Many times when we struggle with bitterness, we get angry with ourselves for struggling at all. We say things like “I’m a pastor. I shouldn’t feel this way. I need to just get over it…” While this may be true in smaller instances, many times, in the midst of our “manning up,” we are simply pushing down toxic emotions that will only fester and come back later to further harm us. We need to follow the example of the Psalmists and take all of our emotional rawness before God. He already knows what is in our hearts and the deep confession of both our sin and our hurt will lead to deep healing.


While it is optimal to seek full reconciliation in person, in some situations that’s not possible. Even so, it is a biblical command to forgive those who have wronged us in light of the good news that we, ourselves, have been forgiven. As we depend upon God to do this, we will experience his power in a profound way.


When we have been wronged, it is common for us to replay the situation in our minds over and over—to say that hurtful thing we wish we had said in the moment, to do that thing we wish we’d done. But every time the movie plays, it is our old heart rolling the film, not our new one. We need to see these moments as temptations from the evil one and flee from them immediately. Nothing good comes from them.


It’s easy to preach sovereignty when things are in our favor, but it is equally true in the moments that hurt. As we walk through the process, we begin to see that even these offenses have a purpose in God’s process of making us more like Jesus. Remember that nothing has escaped his sovereign hand and he is only a prayer away to help you deal with it.


When we get to this point, we know the gospel is really taking root in our hearts. Sometimes, by God’s grace, this happens immediately. Other times, it may take years. Either way, it is both the example and call of Jesus to us to pray for those who have hurt us. Through his Spirit at work within us, we have the resources we need to fulfill his commands. Beating bitterness is tough, but if we don’t, it will beat us. But if we go to God and allow him to bring both conviction and healing, we, our families, and our churches will be better for it. How are you dealing with your bitterness today?

Assaults On Prayer

(The Wander)

“Too short.”

“Too shallow.”

“Too distracted…again.”

“Missed out her, and him, and them…”

“Yawn. Nothing new to say?”

“You call that a prayer?”

“Not enough faith…not enough passion…not enough anything.”

“You don’t actually believe that made a difference, do you?”

“You’ll probably not even think about prayer for the rest of the day.”

So whispers the Adversary when we have tried to pray. David Murray discusses how we might fight back with the truth.

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