By Edd Sterchi
Oftentimes a prayer will begin this way: “Let us pray...” Since Paul was one who imitated Christ in his life (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1), maybe we should alter the phrase to, “Let us pray like Paul did.” How did Paul pray? There is a good example of how he prayed in 2 Cor. 12:8 where he himself prayed pertaining to an affliction, “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.” To pray like Paul did we must pray...
...specifically. Paul prayed “concerning” that particular infirmity (i.e. the thorn in his flesh, 2 Cor. 12:7). We would do well in our personal prayers to be very personal. We should pray concerning specific matters in our life. Our personal prayers are just between us and God. That is why we are to go to a very private place when we pray (cf. Matt. 6:6). Personal prayers are not the time to generalize.
...entreatingly. Paul “pleaded with the Lord.” It is important that we pour out our hearts and emotions before the Lord. With our innermost feelings we should let our “requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).
...repeatedly. Paul prayed “three times.” Too many times, we pray for something once (if even that) and let it go. Pray about it over and over again. We need to remember that Jesus Himself taught the importance of persistence in prayer (cf. Luke 18:1-8). Indeed, let us “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).
...purposefully. Paul prayed concerning this burden “that it might depart.” We should also pray with great purpose and intent – with much resolve and determination. We should always “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it” (Col. 4:2).
Paul’s prayer was answered, albeit not the way he initially desired. But his prayer was heard and answered with what was best for him. Let us all take a lesson from this great man of prayer and resolve to improve our own prayer lives. Now, “Let us pray...”
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.broadwaychurchofchrist.net/