Content Of Paul’s Prayers Part 1

The Content of Paul’s Prayers
Now the content of the prayers of Paul is quite interesting also. Let’s take a little time to consider
the inward parts of prayer.
With Thanksgiving
We find there is a note of thanksgiving running through all of Paul’s prayers. Thanksgiving
should characterize all our prayers. Notice again how Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers:
[I] cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:16)
You will find thanksgiving in his instructions to the Philippian believers also:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer, and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6)
Now “with thanksgiving” is a very strange expression in this context. Paul said that when you
bring your requests to God you also are to come with thanksgiving! There have been several
ways of explaining that. Some have said that what Paul really meant was for you to thank God
after you get your answer. But the interesting thing is that the same tense of the verb is used
throughout the passage, thus it cannot be so interpreted. Paul said that at the very moment you
make your request you are to thank Him — right then and there. Others have tried to interpret it
as meaning that you should thank Him for past favors when you make requests for future
favors. The only thing is, Paul didn’t say that. He said you are to thank Him for the very request
you have just made.
Somebody says, “Well, wait a minute. He may not answer.” But Paul also said that He will answer. I believe one of the worst misnomers Christians use today is “I have unanswered
prayer.” Have you ever stopped to think what an insult that is to God? What you are really saying
is this: “I took a request to God, and He didn’t hear me,” “He wouldn’t listen to me,” or “He
refused to answer it.” May I say to you, if you are a child of God and you brought a request to
Him, He has heard and answered your prayer. But somebody says, “Wait a minute! I know that,
practically speaking, I have unanswered prayers!” My friend, again may I resist you and say,
you do not have unanswered prayers! You did get the answer. You simply didn’t like it, so you
call it an unanswered prayer. May I say to you, God said, “No,” and no is a good answer. Why
don’t you accept from God His no? Why don’t you put the blame where it belongs and say, “I
do not have unanswered prayers, but I just don’t seem to be praying in the will of God”?
You don’t have unanswered prayer if you are God’s child; He is simply not answering them
your way.
Paul experienced this. Let me paraphrase 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 where Paul said, in effect, “I
had a thorn in the flesh, and I went to the Lord about it. I rationalized, saying to Him, ‘Lord, I’d
be a better missionary if You’d take this thorn out.’ Since nothing happened in response to my
request, I went back a second time and said, ‘No, look, Lord — maybe You didn’t quite understand
what I was after the first time. What I really want is the thorn removed, and then I’ll be a
better missionary.’” But Paul still didn’t get the answer he wanted, so he went back a third time,
and the Lord said to him, “Paul, I heard you the first time. I have answered you. I am not going
to take it away, but I am giving you grace to bear it.”
God says no many times and, frankly, I’m of the opinion that it is His best answer. When I
was growing up, I never took a request to my dad that he did not answer. He always answered.
But the best answer that he ever gave was no. I remember one time I asked my dad for a bicycle,
and he said yes. But when I asked for a shotgun, he said no. That was the best answer.
Likewise, God always answers with the best possible answer, and we are to make our requests
with thanksgiving.
Oh, my friend, Paul always had a note of thanksgiving in his prayers. Part of that thanksgiving
came out of his knowledge that God would always hear and answer. When he came to God
he would say, “Here is the request,” and he would lay it out before Him. Then he’d say, “Lord,
thank You for hearing and answering my prayer.” He always got an answer. And you, if you are
God’s child, will get an answer.
Directed to the Father
Now, there is another thing that identifies Paul’s prayers. Will you notice this: He prays to
God the Father. Somebody says, “You are being technical now. Aren’t you splitting hairs?” Yes,
but I want to be very frank with you. I think it is very important to pray correctly. Let me illustrate:
I went to ask about an important matter when I was in Portland, Oregon. Believe me, I got
the runaround! They passed me from one man to another. Finally I said, “I want to talk to the
man who knows. Don’t send me to somebody else. Send me to the man who can make the decision.”
Then I called for a friend of mine who worked there, he came down from his office, and
the whole matter was resolved in about three seconds. It is well to go to the right person. We are
technical in situations down here. So what about our prayer lives? I think we had better be careful
there also.
Paul prayed directly to God the Father. Listen to him:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you….(Ephesians 1:17)
Then over in Ephesians 3:14 he said:
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was being very scriptural, because the Lord Jesus said to His apostles:
And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:23, 24)
To paraphrase what the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Here is a new way of praying. You have never
prayed this way before. Don’t pray to Me directly. Pray to God the Father in My name.”
You see, when you and I pray to the Son, we lose the benefit of His intercession. He is our
great Intercessor. When we pray to God the Father, the Lord Jesus is at God’s right hand, and
He “liveth to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25). He says, “That is one of Mine down
there who is praying. I laid down My life for him. Father, I want You to hear and answer his
prayer.” We lose the benefit of our Intercessor when we attempt to go directly to the Lord Jesus
with our requests.
Now, you say, that is a technicality. Sure it is. Do I think Jesus would hear if we prayed to
Him? Of course He would hear. But when I pray, I want the benefit of everything God has to offer. And, my friend, don’t we want to be scriptural? He said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” I may be splitting hairs, but I am just saying what is here in the Scripture, if you please. “Ask the Father in my name.” This is the thing that Jesus emphasized!





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