Let’s be honest. Our prayer lives can be anemic. And often, our times of prayer only heat up when things are difficult. In those difficult times we cry out to God to solve our problems, but how much of our prayer time should be used for this kind of praying?
Studying the apostle Paul’s prayers a couple of years ago was eye-opening for me. Most people may not realize contained within his letters are prayers for that particular group of Christians to whom he was writing. So I spent a considerable amount of time looking at those prayers. What I discovered was earth-shattering. Paul never, not even once, prayed for these Christians’ circumstances to change!
He prayed for them to live lives worthy of the calling they had received (2 Thessalonians 1:11).
He prayed for them to grasp the magnitude of God’s love for them (Ephesians 3:17-19).
He prayed for them to grow in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-11).
And many more!
Not once did Paul pray for their circumstances to change. Dare I say, Paul was praying for bigger things?! Does that mean we shouldn’t bring our concerns to God? No. We should cast our anxiety on him (1 Peter 5:7). But what it does mean is that our prayer lives need to reflect the prayers of the Bible. Which means, our prayers should be concerned with more than just the difficult circumstances immediately before us. Our greatest good isn’t changed circumstances, but changed lives!