i have a prayer list of people that i try to pray for semi-regularly. sometimes i get stuck in what to pray for them. of course i want them to be generally blessed and have health and provision, but beyond the generic it is often difficult to go deep in prayer for someone and be confident that my prayers are biblical.
i have found that using the prayers that the apostle paul prayed in the different letters he wrote to churches in the new testament is a great starting place to launch me into plenty of material to pray for someone on my prayer list. one particular prayer i like to use as a starting place is ephesians 3:14-21. i will break down how i have found useful to use it, so if you want to take some of these points or even pray word for word through what he prayed for the church of ephesis, you will have confidence in asking the Father.
1. i pray to the Father.
for this reason i bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
i read an article written by john piper that pointed out how most prayers in the Bible are addressed to Father God, even prayers by Jesus Himself and his apostles after His death and resurrection. Jesus even instructed His disciples that they should pray in this way, "our Father who is in heaven..." i realized after reading piper's article that i usually had addressed Jesus first in prayer. i am not saying that we shouldn't pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but in studying prayer in the bible and Jesus' own instruction on prayer i have shifted my focus to asking the Father just as Jesus asked the Father. Jesus even said, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. (john 16:23) i do ask in the name of Jesus, but most often now address the Father directly in my prayers.
2. i ask that his/her spirit man would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit's power.
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,
how many times in our lives do we struggle with discouragement? even king david wrote many times in the psalms, why are you downcast, oh my soul? put your hope in God! it is part of our frail humanity to go through times of being extremely aware of our own brokenness and weakness. this is not contrary to the goal of the gospel: in fact, when i am weak, He is made strong in me. (2 corinthians 12:10) it is always appropriate to ask the Father to show His strength in a person and to build up his/her inner man or spirit. He is rich in glory. He is all powerful. He wants to turn to us and strengthen us in the midst of our weakness.
3. i ask that he/she would be grounded in love through Christ.
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
all people seek for love. the only way we will ever know a love that satisfies or holds us steady in the midst of storms in life is through Jesus Christ. there is no other love that satisfies. i pray for my friend to know this love in a very experiential way that would cause his/her roots to go down deep in Jesus like the righteous man in psalms 1 or the wise man in matthew 7. we can know of Him with our minds, but until we experience His love for ourselves we will never grow deep and mature in love. i want this for every person i care about.
4. i ask for supernatural understanding of the vastness of Jesus' love for him/her.
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,
i ask that he/she would know all 4 dimensions of His love for him/her. it is a love that is beyond knowledge. we cease to be amazed by the new levels and dimensions of His love that still are unfolding to us. it is a love that is transforms us. it is the love we all desire.
5. i pray that he/she would be filled to the fullness of God.
that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
i ask that my friend would have a fresh encounter with God and a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. even though if we know Jesus, we have already had those life-changing encounters, we can always use more encounter with Him. can you imagine being completely full of Him? there is so much i haven't experienced yet in Him. there is so much i have yet to encounter, and i want this very thing for those i love the most as well.
6. i remind myself that He can do all i ask and praise Him.
to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. amen.
prayer is not a wish list. He said that if we ask, we will receive. He is not only willing to answer us when we come to Him, but He is able to do far more than we can even imagine or have the guts to ask of Him. this power He puts within us. that is so crazy! to realize His vast ability and His huge desire that we come ask causes praise and worship to spill out of our hearts. i want to consciously realize that He is more than able and praise Him because of who He is.
so simple, right? i don't know anyone who wouldn't want these things prayed over them. pick a couple people that you pray for and try praying through this passage over them this week. the bible is such a great tool to use to strengthen and deepen our prayers.