(Preaached at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, Wed. p.m. 6-03-15)
If you have ever prayed very long (months or years) for a special prayer request, you know that it can be easy to fall into a “rut” in the way that you pray. You can end up just saying the same things to God over and over, and it can become like the “meaningless repetition” that Jesus talked about in Matthew 6:7. So what can you do to get out of that “rut” in your prayers?
One of the best ways is to use a scripture to pray for that request. Instead of merely praying the same old, “God Bless so-and-so” or “Lord, would you touch and heal them” again, you can use a Bible verse, or series of verses as your guide to prayer.
Let me give you a couple of examples of scriptures I have used to pray for people:
— Psalm 17:8 is actually a prayer David prayed for himself, but I have used it to pray for others as well: “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”
This is a great scriptural blessing to pray for someone. What we translate there as “the pupil of Your eye” is literally “the little man of the eye” — picturing how when you look at someone, there is a little reflection of them in your eye. So this prayer is saying, God, keep them right in Your eye; hide them in the shadow of Your wings” — in other words, protect them and keep them from harm — it’s a great prayer to pray for someone you care about.
— I have prayed Proverbs 14:14 for some people who grew up in the church but who have seemed to wander away: “The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways.” I have used this to pray that the person would get sick of his backsliding ways (“have his fill of them”!) and would want to turn back to the Lord.
— Psalm 28:9 is a good prayer to pray for a church, or any corporate group of Christians:
“O save Your people and bless Your heritage. Be their shepherd and carry them forever.”
It is a great picture of what we want God to do for our church, or our family, or our ministry team: save them, bless them — and the picture of the Lord carrying them as a shepherd would carry a sheep is a great thing to pray!
Using scripture to “frame” your prayer request can help get you out of the “rut” of just praying the same thing over and over, AND it puts the prayer request in a scriptural form. God said in I John 5:14-15 that “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”. So if we are praying scripture, we can be pretty confident that we are praying according to His will! You can use the same scripture for several days, or use a different one every day for a while. It is a great way to pray a request for something or someone on your heart.
I. Using the Model Prayer for A Prayer Request
In light of that, I want to do one more brief lesson before we leave our study of The Model Prayer, and that regards using The Model to pray for a SINGLE request. Over the last weeks, we’ve primarily referred to the Model Prayer as an outline for our normal, daily, morning prayer time, spending 5 or 10 minutes on each point — and I believe that is a primary application of it. But there is also another way we can use it, and that is to use that outline pray for one specific request that you would like to lift up to the Lord. You can use the 6 petitions of the Model Prayer as a “grid” to pray for that request that is on your heart. It would go something like this:
1. The first request is “Hallowed Be Your Name.” So whatever your request is, pray that God would be glorified in this person, or situation.
2. The second request is “Your Kingdom Come.” So here we would pray that people would be saved, or grow spiritually; that God’s kingdom purposes would be advanced through this prayer request.
3. The third request is “Your Will Be Done.” So here we pray that not our ideas, or plans, or will, would be done in this person, or situation, but God’s.
4. The fourth request is “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.” That speaks about our need, so here we would pray that God would provide whatever need is present in this person or request.
5. The fifth request is “Forgive us our debts.” Here we ask God would grant forgiveness. If it is a personal request, we might ask God to forgive US for our sins which might be hindering the request from happening. If it is a request for another person, we might ask Him to forgive them for any sins which are hindering their relationship with Him, or keeping the answer from coming.
6. The final request is “Lead us not into temptation.” Here we pray for spiritual protection for the person, or the people, involved in this request, that they would not be tempted in any way towards evil.
Praying through this Model helps us to pray very specifically and purposefully for one single request, and helps us to pray it scripturally, according to God’s will, which gives us confidence that He is hearing us.
I hope that this idea of praying a request through the “grid” of the Model Prayer makes sense. If not, maybe it will help for me to show you what it looks like by using it in a couple of real-life situations, then I want us to spend some time praying that way:
II. Examples of using the Model Prayer to pray for a specific request:
A. One of the requests I have used the Model Prayer to pray for a number of times is our son Paul and his desire for a marriage partner. For some time I have prayed something like, “Lord, bring just the right person to Paul” or variations of that, but that gets old after a while. So some time ago I started using the Model Prayer to pray for him, especially for his desire for a wife, running that request through the “grid” of the 6 requests of the Model. It would go something like this:
— The first request is “Hallowed be Your name”, so I might pray:
“Lord, I know that You created Paul, and that Your purpose for having him here on earth is for You to be glorified in Him. I pray that You would glorify Your name by bringing him just the right person, in just the right way, and just the right time, and that when it happens, people would thank You, and praise Your name for what You did and how You did it. Bring glory to Your name through this.”
— The 2nd request is “Thy Kingdom Come”, so I might pray:
“Lord, I ask that Your Kingdom purposes would be advanced in this world through Paul’s choice of a marriage partner. I pray that in Your will, You would bring him a person who would work together with him in ministry and mission, and that together, they would do more and better work for the Kingdom of God than they could have done separately. Let Your Kingdom come through this area of His life.”
— Then: “Let Your will be done.” So I could pray:
“Lord, I just desire that YOUR will be done in Paul’s marriage situation. If it is Your will that he remain single and serve You, then I pray that You would just close every door, and help him to learn to be content with Your will. But if You have someone for him, I pray that You would, in Your will and time, bring just that right person to him in Your own way. And help them both to see that this is Your will. This is such an important area; I just pray that Your will would be done in his life in this — ‘on earth, just like it is in heaven.'”
— The next request is: “Give us this day our daily bread”, so I might pray something like:
“Lord, I pray that you would provide for Paul’s needs in a wife: physically, emotionally, socially, in every aspect of his life, give him just the partner that will meet the needs he has in his life. And help him to BE the marriage partner that his wife needs him to be for her, as a provider, and listener, and spiritual leader. Provide for both of them through Your will in this.”
— The next request is: “Forgive us our debts, so I could pray something like:
“Lord, if there are any sins in Paul’s life which are keeping him from Your will being done regarding a marriage partner, I pray You would cleanse him from them. Wash him from selfishness, or seeing only the outward person and not the inward person of the heart, or from his own preconceived ideas of the person he should date and marry which are not Your will. Cleanse him from any sin which might keep him from walking with You, and from knowing Your will on this.”
— And the last request is: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Here I might pray:
“Lord, this is such an important area of his life. Protect Paul from temptation in this; keep the wrong person from him; just close the doors to the wrong people. Protect him from all the temptations of pornography and immorality which are so rampant in our world today. Guard and protect both him, and the person that You have for him, from Satan and all the evil that he would try to bring them into. And be glorified in what You do in his life in this area I pray, in Jesus’ name.”
That is an example of praying through The Model Prayer for a personal request; now let me give you an example of using it to pray for another kind of request. In this case, I will use it to pray for our U.S. Supreme Court regarding the upcoming decision on same-sex marriage. That decision, which all sides agree WILL alter the social fabric of our nation, is due some time this month, probably on a Monday, observers predict. So we need to be PRAYING for that decision. Here is how you could pray for it using the Model Prayer outline:
B. Regarding an upcoming Supreme Court decision:
— “Hallowed Be Your Name”
“Lord, You created this nation, and Your name has been glorified in and through our country in many ways. I pray that Your name might be glorified in this Supreme Court decision, that the glory of Your justice might be portrayed through the decision that these authorities will render, and that Your people will give thanks and praise to Your name for the answer to prayer You give.”
— “Your Kingdom Come.”
Lord, I ask that Your Kingdom purposes would be furthered through this decision. May the forces of wickedness that are spreading through our country be turned back, and may You send a revival in our nation, so that people are saved and added to Your Kingdom, and the moral tide will turn back to righteousness. Use the Supreme Court to enforce the standards of Your kingdom and righteousness in our land, I pray.”
— “Your will be done.”
God I pray that these justices would set aside their own personal agendas, whatever they are, and that they would humble themselves before You, and that they would seek YOUR will. Shine Your light on their hearts, and give them YOUR wisdom, to know and do YOUR will in this case I ask. Despite all who are against it, may YOUR will be done in this matter.”
— “Give us this day …”.
“Lord, provide for the needs of Your people in this decision. Give us Supreme Court justices who will indeed judge justly. Work in the hearts and minds of Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Alito and Scalia and Clarence Thomas; give them what they need to render a godly decision. I pray for Justice Kennedy especially, who is often the deciding vote in many of these issues. Bring great pressure in his heart and mind to render a decision that is right in the eyes of God. I lift up Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan as well, that You would work in their lives, and humble them before You, and help them to do what is right in this decision.”
— “Forgive us our debts.”
“God, forgive Your people for not being involved in the governmental process in our land. Forgive us for not caring, for not registering, for not voting; for allowing ungodly people to be elected in our land, who have appointed those who might rule against Your word. Forgive us for not being involved in Your kingdom work as we should; for not leading people to Jesus who now work and vote in ungodly ways. Forgive us for not praying as we should for this issue, for our leaders, and for revival in our country as a whole. Cleanse these justices from their own personal sins as well, so that they might see clearly to render a decision which would honor You.”
— “Lead us not into temptation.”
“Lord, there are so many forces that are working against our nation, which would drag our country away from You. I pray in Jesus’ name that You would bind the power of the enemy; lead our country not into further temptation and moral destruction; deliver our nation from the power of the enemy. God, may You bless and protect and revive our nation. May You pour out your grace upon us especially in this Court decision I pray, in Jesus’ name.”
Those are a couple of examples of how I have prayed for some specific things, using the Model Prayer as an outline. It helps us to pray in an organized, godly way, and to see things from God’s perspective on the requests we are lifting up to Him — and that’s something we need!
I went over to Asheville yesterday to visit some of our folks in the hospital there, and on the way back I saw the sign for the Blue Ridge Parkway, so I decided to pull in and just drive on it for a few minutes. It didn’t take me long to get to the point on the Parkway where you can pull over and look out over the Haw River Valley. I stood there for a number of minutes and just soaked in the view; it was magnificent. There were a bunch of homes nestled on the hillside, a broad valley that lay between two clusters of mountains, covered with trees, and off in the distance you could see a storm brewing, and the mountains there were covered with darkness.
But then I glanced down at the homes again. I thought, you know, we often only think of our own little home, in our own little neighborhood, in our own little neighborhood. But when you step back, there is so much more to it; such a bigger picture.
And I think it can be that same way with our prayer requests as well. We tend to think only of our little situation, with our particular “need” or “want”, but we don’t really think about God’s bigger picture; His Kingdom purposes and what He is doing in the world. Praying through the outline of the Model Prayer for our requests helps us keep the “bigger picture” in mind: it helps us to remember God’s glory, His Kingdom, His will, His purposes — and not just our little need. It is still appropriate to share our need with God — He loves us and wants to hear it — but He also wants us to grow spiritually, so that we see that there is more to this world than just our own need. Praying the Model Prayer for our requests helps us to pray in a way which sees the bigger picture of what God’s purposes are, as well as to pray focused, scriptural prayers for our requests.