Prayer

A Prayer for Today

Father, our world is broken, and we’ve proven time and time again that we’re unable to fix it ourselves. We weep with those who weep and hurt with those who are hurting. We pray for peace and justice for the family of George Floyd, and we pray for peace and justice in communities of color. These protests are an expression of pain. Help us respond with appropriate repentance—individually and corporately.

We also pray for justice for all lawlessness, and for the restoration of property and the peace of our cities. And we ask for the peace and protection of law enforcement, national guard, and other folks who are placing their lives on the line to stem the tide of evil. Would you give government officials wisdom to balance the need for justice, security, due process, and freedom of speech?

We intercede for African American members of our congregation that you would grant them peace of mind and grace in Christ. For men, women, and families who put their lives on the line each day in service—that you will give them courage and wisdom. These are such perilous times.

And, Lord, may the church of Christ be a beacon of repentance, hope, and love, and a model for the kind of courageous peace and unity that we see in your Word. May our lives be marked by clear, compelling love for each other and the community around us. And give us opportunities to speak the hope of the gospel into the darkness around us. We ask that you would bring people into the family of God in this time of chaos.

Jesus, you are a Man of Sorrows, well acquainted with grief, and today is a reminder of that grief. You were broken, so that we might be whole; your blood was shed so we might be forgiven. We pray all of this in the name of Jesus the Savior who rose to conquer sin, death, and hell. Amen.

Tips on Prayer

Do you ever pray, other than before a meal or a quick breathed prayer before or a big test or job interview? Prayer is one of the simplest, yet most difficult, Christian practices. Here are some thoughts that may help in establishing the discipline of regularly talking to God in prayer:

1. Pray.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t wait until you’ve got the perfect system. Get into the habit of talking with God, rather than just talking with yourself about what’s going on. Set aside time in your schedule to help make this happen.

2. Find places you can go and things you can do to help you pray.
It might be taking a walk or riding your bike. Perhaps it’s getting alone in a quiet place. It might be riding in the car, leaving off the music and podcasts, and talking to God.

3. Use written guides in prayer.
Start a prayer list or prayer journal. “PrayerMate” is an app that can be quite helpful.  Create categories for prayer on different days of the week. Pray for extended family one day; pray for friends another day; pray through your church membership another day. Find something that helps you pray.

4. Use Scripture.
The Bible is full of prayers. Take a walk sometime and pray a psalm back to God. Study the prayers in the Old and New Testaments, and let those guide your prayer time.

Prayer can be hard, but the fruit is worth the effort: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working!” (James 5:16).

How God Answers Prayer

In his excellent book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, D. A. Carson suggests a helpful model for Christians to understand how and why God answers some prayers differently than others.

“Even a little reflective acquaintance with the God of the Bible acknowledges that he is not less than utterly sovereign, and not less than personal and responsive. Correspondingly, the Bible boasts many examples of praise and adoration, and no fewer examples of intercession. Indeed, 'Christian prayer is marked decisively by petition, because this form of prayer discloses the true state of affairs. It reminds the believer that God is the source of all good, and that human beings are utterly dependent and stand in need of everything.'

“Of the various models that usefully capture both of these poles, the model of a personal relationship with a father is as helpful as any. If a boy asks his father for several things, all within the father’s power to give, the father may give him one of them right away, delay giving him another, decline to give him a third, set up a condition for a fourth. The child is not assured of receiving something because he has used the right incantation: that would be magic. The father may decline to give something because he knows it is not in the child’s best interests. He may delay giving something else because he knows that so many requests from his young son are temporary and whimsical. He may also withhold something that he knows the child needs until the child asks for it in an appropriate way. But above all, the wise father is more interested in a relationship with his son than in merely giving him things. Giving him things constitutes part of that relationship but certainly not all of it. The father and son may enjoy simply going out for walks together. Often the son will talk with his father not to obtain something, or even to find out something, but simply because he likes to be with him.”