What Do You Do with All These Prayer Requests?
Christ Jesus. . . intercedes for us. Romans 8:34.
That means He goes before the Father and reminds Him of our needs. (Not that He needs reminding, of course.)

Christ commands us to pray for others.
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

Paul did. 
Most of his letters remind his listeners that he is praying for them.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all. Philippians 1:3-4.

Often at churches, the physical needs seem to be an acceptable need to share, but what if your marriage is suffering, your kids are rebellious, your life’s a mess, why don’t we hear about those needs?
Or what about those who are searching but don’t know God, who prays for the lost?

Paul shares some of his prayers with us.
What did he pray for?
Let’s look. (His words are in italics while my comments are not.)

…do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 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.

Paul prays for them to have wisdom and know God.
True wisdom comes from God. By knowing Him, He shares what He knows.
We’ve been talking about how to look for God in the little everyday things. 
God also wants us to share what we’re learning with others, for their edification and encouragement.

 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. 

Paul prays they will have God’s hope, riches and power.
These aren’t our things—they are God’s.
He wants to give them to us. 
That hope enables His children to experience all kinds of trials.
Without hope, there’s no purpose for it.
Those riches—we will share what God has. He has it all!
That power—not our own strength, which is never enough, but His. 
His power enables us to conquer evil, sin, and those things that trip us up.
That’s a lot of power packed in Paul’s intercessory prayers.

These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:16-23.

Paul prays they will submit to Christ’s authority. 
None of those things before mentioned—hope, riches and power, will happen unless God’s will is followed. 
We don’t hold to the hope that is in Christ Jesus if we are feeling sorry for ourselves because we have a trial.
We know the riches promised in heaven, but there are those riches found here in spite of a fallen world. 
But without submitting to Christ’s authority on a daily basis, we don’t see those riches—like His presence, joy, and peace. (Like we’ve talked about in this article: Looking for God in every day moments)

Paul prays that we so align our lives with Christ that we obey God fully. 
He doesn’t pray for their broken bones and disease ridden bodies—as some received from their torture for their faith. 
Instead he prays they will know God fully.

Here’s another prayer of Paul’s:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father. . . that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 

Paul prays they would be strong through the Spirit.
Again, we must be in obedient to His Will to be working through the Spirit.

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;

Paul prays our faith would rest in Christ. 
Nothing would hinder Christ, as He lives inside us, from doing what He must do. 
Because we are seeking to obey Him fully.
In other words, everything we do should be specific instructions from Christ.
We get our marching orders and resting orders from Christ, trusting fully in what He wants to do with us. (That’s the faith part.)

and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 

 Love—our words, motives, actions reflect God’s love. 
We must submit to His will moment by moment so that God’s love is reflected. 
If that prayer was worked in our lives, think how different things would be.
How we treat each other at home would reflect it.
Those searching for God would be attracted to find Him because of what they see lived out in you.

may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:14-19.

They will not just know about the love of God, but they will be filled with it.
Paul wanted these believers to see the world through God’s eyes.
The closer we get to God, the more we experience His love, because we know what God has forgiven in our own lives.
By feeling His love, the more we see the lost world and the hurts of believers. 
That makes us pray for them more.

Paul wasn’t praying that so-and-so feels better.
Even his own trials, he told the believers, were necessary so those in prison heard the Gospel.
He recognized God brought the trials to further His glory.

None of us like to suffer. 
We want to feel strong and independent and capable of taking care of things.
But Paul understood that suffering makes us look to God.
Because we aren’t strong enough.
We should be dependent on Him.
We can’t take care of things.
When we finally look to God,  Paul prays, we would clearly see Him.
Instead of questioning “why me?”, Paul prayed that we would bow our knees to the Creator and submit our will to His.

Know what happens as you pray for others in this way?
You are reminded of what Christ has done for you.
Your faith is strengthened.
You see answers, because you are looking for God in everyday things. (REMEMBER THIS ARTICLE Looking for God in Every Day Moments?)
It causes you to praise God.

Sometimes you can see God working better than the one who is in the middle of it. 
You encourage them with their progress.
You cheer them to continue to submit and obey.
You stand with them.
That’s what intercessory prayer is about.

When I tell someone, “Have a good day” that’s not a request that all goes according to their plans, 
but a request that the goodness of their day depends on how well they submit to the will of God, Who will make their day good. See the difference?

My prayers for my sons are not that they go on their merry way and nothing goes wrong for them. 
Although I hate to see problems and hardships, I pray their faith remains strong, their trust deepens, and they learn to live in God’s will and presence.

It’s only there, in God’s presence, where no problems arise—not that you don’t have any, but they are God’s, aren’t they?
There's no cause for fear, for God has them and He’s in charge.

That kind of prayer enables me to allow my sons to live miles from my help—because what kind of help can I give that is greater than God’s?

Do you see how intercessory prayer gets to the heart of issues?
As I pray for my sons, I must also trust them to God.
I don’t meddle with their choices.
God is bringing them and me to submit to Him.
Every day.
Every moment.

But I do pray.
I pray that God is near.
That God’s presence can be felt.
That His wisdom would be heard.
That His love could be trusted.
That our wills will bow to His.

As I do this, God changes me, too.
I  trust Him more. 
Interfere less.

He wants all to commune with Him.
To live in His presence.
That’s why we pray.
That’s how we pray for others.

And God will be praised.

Displaying all 3 comments

You are so right, it seems that most of the time we and others ask for prayers for our physical needs when they are not what really counts. How often in church does someone admit they are having trouble spiritually and need help? We just don't hear that. Though in smaller Bible studies and small groups, we do hear that, which means we need close friends to be there for us. I've been trying to concentrate on my kids spiritual and emotional needs which will bring eternal results more than that things go right for them. So appreciate your words each week, each is a reminder or encouragement or reprimand from God. God bless you and your family, and praying for your youngest, Anne

Excellent as always. This is the kind of prayer that is so much more adequate and substantive than "help Sue to feel better" and "help Joe to have enough money." And I'm so glad that we have real, Biblical examples of people who showed us how to pray by praying these beautiful, deep prayers.

I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

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under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
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under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Articles on Suffering can be found  here, 
under Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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