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Prayer: What are our best examples? 

Gary Googe Oct 15

Our apostle Paul provides us with the best example. Many might think the best example of prayer is the one our Lord gave the Twelve Apostles recorded in Matthew 6:9-13. But please note my article that is on this website about that—

Prayer:  Is “The Lord’s Prayer” a model prayer for us today? 

For us today it is Paul who is our apostle and our example in this and many other things.  Even though most of those in Christendom refuse to accept it, numerous passages of Scripture come to mind supporting that belief.  First, we are told that if you want to follow Christ today one must follow the teachings of the apostle Paul.

1 Corinthians 11:1  

1 Be ye followers of me [Paul], even as I also am of Christ. [Emphasis added]

He’s not just talking about his manner of life, but his doctrine, his teaching that was different from what had gone before.  I don’t think most churchgoers today are even aware of that verse and its significance.  We are clearly warned about failing to realize the apostle Paul’s role in our lives today.

1 Corinthians 14:37-38

37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. [Emphasis added]

Have you noticed that it is only Paul who is spoken of as the apostle of the Gentiles.

Romans 11:13

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify [MEGALUNO = make great, emphasize] mine office: [Emphasis added]

Please see my articles on this— 

Paul:  Do we make too much of him?

Paul:  What’s so special about his teaching?

It is Paul who has been appointed to be our instructor for our time now.

2 Timothy 1:11

11 Whereunto I [Paul] am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. [Emphasis added]

Such is never said of Peter and the eleven.  Even in the apostle Peter’s last recorded words he directs us all to Paul and his teaching.

2 Peter 3:15-16

15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him  [that was different from what had gone before] hath written unto you;

16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [STREBLOO = twist or distort], as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. [Emphasis added]

The fact that Peter and Paul preached different gospel messages is clearly stated.  Only the one taught by Paul is ours today.

Galatians 2:7-8

7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) [Emphasis added]

If you want more information about this, please see my article about it—

Gospels: Did Peter and Paul preach the same gospel?

People today have tried to combine these gospels into one, but Peter’s gospel demanded obedience to the things of the Mosaic Law and water baptism. Paul’s gospel did not.

Romans 6:14-15

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. [Emphasis added]

Please note his plain comment about water baptism.

1 Corinthians 1:17

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. [Emphasis added]

How often would you hear a preacher today say that? There’s only one baptism in place today and it is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:5

5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, [Emphasis added]

I always want to ask people, what do you not understand about one?

1 Corinthians 12:13

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. [Emphasis added]

There’s no water in this baptism.  It is dry, but it is the one for us today.  Yes, we are under a different system today.  The bottom line to it all is that we’re to follow Paul and his teachings over all the other writers of Scripture. Anything that conflicts with his teaching is to be rejected as something not for our obedience or application in our time.

Philippians 3:17

17 Brethren, be followers together of me [Paul], and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. [Emphasis added]

Christ’s ministry was exclusively to Israel, the circumcision, not to us, the Gentiles.

Romans 15:8

8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [he’s speaking of Israel] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: [Emphasis added]

One of the most important things about Paul’s example to us is in prayer.  He tells us to pray as he himself was faithful in that.

1 Thessalonians 5:17

17 Pray without ceasing.

This is to be a habitual thing for us.  It doesn’t have to be audible because God knows all our thoughts.  But even in how we pray and what we pray we must realize the importance of learning and understanding the principles associated with the right division of Scripture.

2 Timothy 2:15

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]

One of many examples I could give for this is regarding the forgiveness of sins.  In my very early years, I now remember hearing many prayers where the request for the forgiveness of sins was made.  Obviously, these people didn’t even know they were already forgiven. It was foolish for them to ask for something they already had.

Ephesians 1:7

7 In whom [speaking of Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; [Emphasis added]

Paul reminded the Colossian church of this same thing.

Colossians 2:13

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; [Emphasis added]

He’s not talking about just past sins.  He’s talking about all of them—past, present, and future sins.  Bear in mind that they were all in the future when Christ died for them.  Because Christ paid the full penalty for all our sins on the cross, they have already been forgiven for all of us.  He did not provide salvation for all by this, but He did provide through this a way of salvation for all.  Therefore, we need not ask for something we already have.  Because all our sins were charged to Christ on the cross, they’ll never be charged to us.

2 Corinthians 5:19

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word [this good news we have in the gospel message] of reconciliation. [Emphasis added]

Again, this is why we speak of our message to the unsaved as the gospel, meaning good news.  Only accepting what He did stands between them and everlasting salvation.  We should all be committed to sharing this wonderful news to open the eyes of the unsaved to this marvelous truth.

Acts 26:18

18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. [Emphasis added]

Another thing we should faithfully pray about is the salvation of unbelievers.  Here we have Paul commenting about this concerning his fellow countrymen.

Romans 10:1

1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [Emphasis added]

Who are you now praying for concerning this? If you don’t have a list to remind you, I hope you’ll make one.  The gospel message is the best and most important information you’ll ever have the opportunity to present to anyone.

The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ was directed exclusively to the nation Israel.  Please notice what He said about this.

Matthew 15:24

24 But he [Jesus Christ] answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [Emphasis added]

Paul later speaks of this.

Romans 15:8

8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Jews, the people of Israel] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers [their ancestors]: [Emphasis added]

All those things He taught that are recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were to Israel, not us today. There are some things there that overlap and apply to us, but many do not.  Sorting those things out is called rightly dividing Scripture. [Again, 2 Timothy 2:15].

The ascended Lord Jesus Christ saved Saul of Tarsus and made him Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles [Acts 9:15,16; Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 1:11].  It was our Savior who sent Paul to us.  Here are His words about that.

John 13:20

20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him [God the Father] that sent me. [Emphasis added]

To reject the words and the authority of the apostle Paul is to reject Jesus Christ.  They are one and the same.  All His words are set forth in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.  To minimize the importance of those words is to minimize the Word of God that is specifically addressed to us today.  One of the most important things said to us in his writings is our need as believers to make a habit of praying to our Heavenly Father.

Again, 1 Thessalonians 5:17

17 Pray without ceasing.

Note what Paul also said to these believers in Thessalonica concerning this.

1 Thessalonians 1:2

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; [Emphasis added]

Have you made mention of people in your prayers today? But these prayers uttered by Paul were personal prayers about personal things, not some memorized prayer or something read out of a prayer book that hardly requires thought. Prayer is a time for us to speak intimately with God about all kinds of things.

Psalm 62:8

8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. [Emphasis added]

Yes, we’re to “pour our hearts out” to God regarding all kinds of things.

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Be careful for nothing [meaning we’re to stop worrying about even one thing]; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding [beyond natural comprehension], shall keep [PHROUREO = guard] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [Emphasis added]

What a wonderful promise! Worry and fear have destroyed many people, but this need not be the case for you.  Prayer and the belief that God would somehow answer have provided deliverance from and through these things for many people.

Furthermore, our prayers aren’t to be selfish, saying give me this and give me that! Don’t you just love it when some people only contact you when they want something? I doubt it! I’m afraid most people only pray when they think they need something. There’s certainly nothing wrong with making requests, but prayer is a time mainly to intercede for others, to express praise to God, and to give thanks for things you already have.  None of these prayers must be out loud or prayed on our knees.  Volume and posture really don’t play into this. Personal requests should usually be last on the list of things we pray about, but we should be bold in all our requests believing God will in some way answer all our prayers.  As I often say, a no to a request of Him is just as much of an answer as a yes.  There’s nothing too small or too large for us to be praying about.  Fortunately, we have the record of some of Paul’s prayers to guide us in all of this.  We’ll look at four of them in this study. Many volumes of material have been written about these through the ages.  I hope you’ll make it a priority to become familiar with all four of these passages.  I’ll make some comments about each of them.

First – Ephesians 1:16-20

16 [All the saints] Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

Our prayers for people are to be ongoing.  Prayer for us is to be a daily activity.

17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

The most important prayer we’ll ever have for any believer is that they might gain this “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” More than anything else people need salvation, and then they need the information God has provided in the Bible for their spiritual growth into maturity.

18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

This “hope of his calling” is to do with the confidence we should have about the day of our coming resurrection status.  This is knowing confidently that as believers we all have a glorious future regardless of what our situation may be now here on Earth.

19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

We need to pray that God will work through us, not just despite us.

20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [Emphasis added]

We need to pray we’ll be ones who faithfully present a clear explanation of the gospel to many of the people who come into our lives.  This must become or be a priority in all our relationships.

Second – Ephesians 3:14-19

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

We as believers are family of God because of regeneration, the new birth that became ours when we put our faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the sole basis for our salvation [Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4].

16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

This strength to properly deal with life comes through the application of God’s Word we’ve taken the time to come to know.

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

This is about His thinking becoming our thinking as it is channeled to us primarily through the writings of the apostle Paul.

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

This emphasizes the broad spectrum of people God’s Word affects in our time.  It is not limited by race, by nation, or in any other way.  It is available to all.

19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. [Emphasis added]

It is far beyond our present comprehension how wonderful our status is now and how it will ultimately be in Heaven.

ThirdPhilippians 1:3-11

3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

Making great memories with God’s people is a wonderful thing.  Paul is so very thankful for those he’s come to know.  Time and time again we see Paul expressing thanks to God over many things.  Have you ever noticed that you can’t be complaining and giving thanks all at the same time? If you choose to spend a lot of time giving thanks and being thankful, the complaining will go away.  All of us can always find things for which we should be grateful.

4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

Like Paul, we should be interceding for others in prayer ongoing.

5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Yes, what God starts in us He’s going to finish.  There’s nothing that will stop it. As believers we will always have much to look forward to in that, even if there are times now when we fail spiritually.

7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

Paul had his hard times through imprisonment and other things, but through it all he was thankful as he prayed.

8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels [SPLACHNON = tender mercies—with the same emotions] of Jesus Christ.

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge [EPIGNOSIS = full knowledge] and in all judgment [EISTHESIS = discernment];

10 That ye may approve things that are excellent [DIAPHERO = things that differ]; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.

Because of our intimate union with Christ in this Dispensation of Grace, things are both different and better in our time than in any other in history. An important part of our ministry to fellow believers is to help them see and understand the many things that differ in this present time.

11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. [Emphasis added]

These “fruits of righteousness” are the applications we make of God’s Word in our lives.  It is the fruit of the Spirit of God in us [Galatians 5:22-23] that comes to expression.  And always realize that you can’t apply what you don’t know, so we’re to be faithful in our growth in God’s Word ongoing.

It seems to me that this fourth prayer is very important but after we’ve already seen so much of the content of this prayer in this study, I think it needs little explanation.

FourthColossians 1:9-12

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

Please see my article on determining the will of God.

Guidance: How does God speak to us today?

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

To “walk worthy of the Lord” is to live a life that reflects the character of God.  Life’s decisions need to be in accordance with His directives.  This demands that we’re always “increasing in the knowledge of God” through our studies of the Bible and especially the apostle Paul’s writings.

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet [HIKANOO = made us sufficient] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [Emphasis added]

Conclusion—

As believers we all have so much for which to be thankful.  We are all truly wealthy spiritually.  The list of these spiritual assets is long.  The apostle Paul gives us wonderful examples of how we should be utilizing this asset called prayer.  Clearly, we need to be giving thanks to God in prayer for all He’s provided ongoing.  The focus of this study has been on this ability we have to gain a hearing with God through prayer.  There may be people in this life you’d like to have access to, but there’s nothing greater than having access to the God of all creation.  Have you spoken to Him today? Have you given thanks for this blessing of prayer and so much more? We all need to make a habit of speaking with Him daily.  If you haven’t already been doing this, why not begin now?

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