This past Sunday, we discussed the topic of earnest prayer in Acts 12. The early church prayed earnestly for Peter, who was facing certain death after the martyrdom of James. The Lord heard their prayers and set him free. Have you ever prayed for something earnestly? What types of prayers do you often pray? Personally, these are the types of requests I have prayed:
Fandom prayers: Does God pick sides? (The movie "Bruce Almighty" got it wrong when Morgan Freeman (playing God) was wearing a Yankee hat.) I prayed for the Red Sox when they were playing the Yankees in game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship series and was ready to get swept. It was the only time in baseball history that a team eventually came back from being down 3-0 to win the series. The millions of prayers of the Red Sox nation were answered.
Then there are more biblical prayers:
Ritual prayers: My prayer before meals and meetings can sometimes be rote. I need to pause to acknowledge I am speaking to the Lord of the universe even though I am just asking for guidance in a meeting or blessing a conversation at mealtimes.
Personal prayers: During my single days in New York City, I regularly prayed for a wife – God graciously answered my prayer!
Desperate prayers: When my son, Benjamin, had pneumonia when he was four it caused me to pray in desperation. Sometimes, we are put in circumstances where we have nowhere else to go but to plead with God earnestly. Health issues, financial need, etc… God hears our prayers and in reality the Lord is the only one we can trust.
Spiritual growth prayers: Pray for God’s will to be done in your life and that you would grow in knowledge of God and trust in his love. Pray that you are so renewed by grace that as Charles Spurgeon commented “If you were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company.” Pray Paul's prayers for the church in Ephesus:
"According to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:16-19)
Kingdom advancement prayers: Pray for the Gospel to be proclaimed and for people to come to know Christ. The early church prayed for the advancement of the Gospel:
"Lord…grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:29-31)
There are of course more prayers than these but let’s make sure that we pray for his kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.