Praying for myself (and others)!

October 21, 2012

My understanding about how I should pray for myself and others took a huge leap forward a few months ago when I ran across a blog post by Nancy Guthrie titled “Praying Past Our Preferred Outcomes”. Its focus is praying in the midst of suffering but it seems to me that her concept could and should be applied to every aspect of praying for ourselves and for others. Here’s an excerpt.

If we really believe that God is purposeful in suffering, that our suffering is not meaningless or random, shouldn’t that affect how we pray about the suffering in our lives and in the lives of others? As it is, we pretty much only know how to pray for suffering to be removed—for there to be healing, relief, restoration. Praying for anything less seems less than compassionate. But shouldn’t the purposes for suffering we find in Scripture guide our prayers more than our predetermined positive outcomes? We could make a very long list of purposes for which God intends to use suffering according to the Scripture. But here are just a few:

    • To put God’s glory on display (John 9:3)
    • To make the life of Jesus evident (2 Cor. 4:10-11)
    • To live out genuine faith (1 Peter 1:6-7)
    • To cause us to depend on him more fully (2 Cor. 1:8-9)
    • To reveal hidden sin or keep us from sin (2 Cor. 12:7)
    • To experience that Christ is enough (2 Cor. 12:9)
    • To discipline us for holiness (Hebrews 12:10-11)
    • To equip us to comfort others (1 Cor. 1:3)
    • To make us spiritually mature (James 1:2-5)
    • To make us fruitful (John 15:2)
    • To shape us into Christ’s likeness (Romans 8:29)
    • To share in the suffering of Christ (Philippians 3:10)

What would happen if we allowed Scripture to provide the outcomes we prayed toward? What if we expanded our prayers from praying solely for healing and deliverance and success to praying that God would use the suffering and disappointment and dead ends in our lives to accomplish the purposes he has set forth in Scripture?

So I am populating the “About Myself” folder in my copy of Prayer Prompter with requests that have nothing to do with my own comfort or convenience. Here are a few of them.

A love for the Word of God

That I might value God’s Word more than anything else.

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23:10-12 KJV)

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. (1 Peter 2:2 KJV)

The nearness of God

That I might live in God’s presence and by His purpose.

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4 KJV)

Others more important

That I would consider other more important than myself.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 KJV)

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 KJV)

A longer list will come pre-installed in Prayer Prompter for new users starting with version 1.3. If you are already using Prayer Prompter, you can download the list here and copy and paste them into the “About Myself” folder one at a time…and then start adding some of your own.

The entire article by Nancy Guthrie is available here.

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