Purpose for prayer

Training Category: Prayer Ministry

If you want to develop a prayer ministry, personally or with a group, one of the first questions you must ask is “Why?” — What are you hoping to accomplish through it?

Effectiveness in Prayer Requires Having the Right Purposes for Praying

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Maybe you are hoping to see God take care of a list of requests.

You possibly want to see Him do great and mighty things in your midst or to bring revival.

Perhaps you simply want to be obedient to His command to pray.

Or, you may be trying to emulate the early church of the New Testament of whom it was said that they devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42).

While all that and much more can happen as people meet together to pray, you will undoubtedly find a greater level of effectiveness when your purposes are centered more on God than on you. When prayer is about Him and not you, you tend to come to Him with the right heart attitudes. Your role, though important, isn’t primary. If you want people to be devoted to prayer, like the Early Church, you must be focused on the right purposes for having a prayer ministry.

Emphasize the following purposes and watch the difference it makes in your prayer ministry:

  1. Use prayer as a means of keeping focused on God.
  2. Use prayer as a means of acknowledging His grace in your life.
  3. Use prayer as a means of keeping His sovereignty in place in your life.
  4. Use prayer as a means of maintaining your relationship with Him.

Check out the Prayer Ministry Manual where you’ll find some thoughts on the above four points as to what heart attitude we need within each of these purposes and the role we have in it. You will also find a parallel of the above points to Jesus’ sample prayer in Matthew 6 (commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer). And, you will be guided in determining if you, as an individual, or as a prayer group, have the right purposes for praying.

For More on what will help you develop and maintain an effective Prayer Ministry, read the following:

  • Effectiveness in Prayer Requires Personal Relationship
  • Effectiveness in Prayer Requires Having the Right Purposes for Praying (this post)
  • Effectiveness in Prayer Requires A Passion for Prayer
  • Effectiveness in Prayer Requires that it is a Priority
  • Effectiveness in Prayer Requires Adherence to Biblical Principles
  • Effectiveness in Prayer Requires and Results in Power
  • Effectiveness in Prayer Requires that it be a Permanent Practice
  • Planning Strategies for Effective Corporate Prayer
  • Preparing Others to Join Your Prayer Efforts
  • Promoting Prayer Successfully

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In Acts 9, an intriguing story is told of the conversion of a man named Saul, from a pious religious zealot, hellbent on completely destroying the fledging band of Jesus followers, to one of the most prolific authors, evangelists and defenders of the same faith the world has ever known. On the way to fulfill what he thought was his God-given purpose (destroying these Christians), Jesus appeared to Saul in a bright light that struck him to the ground, leaving him in a state mirroring his spiritual condition – blind.  The Bible says that for three days he could not see and ate nothing.  As I read his story, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What was he doing for those three days?” It wasn’t long before I discovered the profound answer, which shook me to my core!

Acts 9:11 says that God spoke to a disciple named Ananias and told him to go to a house on a particular street and ask for a man named Saul.  What blew my mind is what God told Ananias was the reason for this most unexpected mission.  God said he was sending him because, “he is praying.” Wow!  Then it hit me.  Saul had no idea that ANYTHING was happening on his behalf.  All he knew was that everything he thought was true about his religious beliefs were categorically false.

Now, his purpose for living was unclear at best.  I can only imagine his utter confusion!  His entire mission in life, his purpose for God, had been dramatically upended.  Jesus WAS alive and WAS the Messiah!  Now, he was left in the dark, literally blind and confused.  But that’s when something miraculous happened. While still in the midst of utter confusion, he started praying and without him knowing, God started moving and preparing for his healing.  His prayers were making all the difference and he didn’t even know it!

Right now, you may be going through a similar situation like Paul.  Life isn’t turning out the way you’d hoped.  You’re confused about your purpose.  What you were banking on no way resembles the outcome. Things you thought true have turned out to be false.  You thought you were on the right path, but life’s events have made it clear that was a presumption that has now left you confused about your purpose.  You feel like life or even God Himself has knocked you down to the ground and now you’re left here in the dark…fighting to see the light.  If this describes you, buckle your seatbelt and feel the power of God’s word in this story surging through you.

When we are left all alone and in the darkness of our confusion, our prayers DO move the hand of God, especially when we THINK nothing is happening!  God said to Ananias it is BECAUSE Saul is praying that I am sending you to heal his eyes!

Are you in need of healing?  Pray!  Are you in the dark?  Pray!  Are you longing for some bit of light?  Pray!  Are you desperate to hear the voice of God again or perhaps for the first time?  Pray!  Are you in search for your purpose for living?  Pray and know that AS you are praying, God is moving and preparing your healing!  In fact, your healing IS on the way!  Expect it!

Saul’s healing showed up because he started praying.  It took some time, but he kept praying.  It didn’t happen right away, but he kept praying.  He didn’t even know if God was listening, but he kept praying and three days later his healing showed up, knocking at his door because he was praying.  AND it was better than he expected!  God’s answers usually are!  His solution to our problems, His response to our pain, His purpose for our lives is always better than what we could have imagined! Our dilemma was sin; He responded with grace. We lost fellowship with Him; He responded by becoming one of us and giving us the companionship of His Spirit. We had a wound that no one could cure; He allowed Himself to be pierced in His side, cut to the core of His soul, whipped on our behalf, and with His stripes we are now healed!  We suffered the curse of death; He gave us life by dying on a cross so one day we won’t ever have to again. We lost the garden; through His righteousness He gives us Heaven! He is both the root and the offspring of David (Revelation 22:16).  Yes!  Keep praying!

If you’re facing a wall between you and your purpose for living, pray.  Your healing…your light…your revelation of purpose and pathway through is on the way!

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42 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Purpose of Prayer:

Watchfulness

Watching and praying are often associated in the Bible. Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, encouraged his Disciples to watch and pray with him as he contemplated the cross. I think Jesus was telling them more than simply to stay awake and pray, or to be watchful and pray. They fell asleep. Jesus told them “pray that you enter not into temptation”. I think this was more than just an exhortation to the content of prayer-I think Jesus was indicating the expected results of prayer. Prayer changes your perspective; it changes the way you look at yourself and the world. I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if the Disciples had stayed awake with Jesus and prayed that night.

Elisha prayed for his servant “Lord, open his eyes so he can see”. The servant looked and saw horses and chariots of fire surrounding the prophet. Our first prayer should be that the Lord would give us eyes to see things as he sees them-to grant us his perspective. Prayer wakes us up to the spiritual realities around and within us. This is its first purpose. The next purpose for prayer is that we would be truly grateful.

Thankfulness

I don’t know about you, but I often burden God first thing with all my complaints and requests. I bring to him all the things I want him to change. But truth be thought and known I always have much more to be thankful for than to complain about. The thing is we all have a negativity bias (I’ve talked about this elsewhere). We obsess over the things that are not right rather than obsessing over the things that are too good to comprehend. There is so much to thank God for-life, health, family, friends, calling, mission, the goodness of God, the gift of his Son, his Spirit, truth, faithfulness, constancy, forgiveness-the list goes on. Set aside the mental, social, physical and spiritual benefits of thankfulness, we shouldn’t pray without thanking God; it’s just wrong. But Paul spends most of his prayer request & exhortation focused on effectiveness.

Effectiveness

Paul was an evangelist, and he asks for prayer that he would be diligent and effective in his calling even when he was in prison. What’s your calling? Our prayer should be that we would “walk in wisdom”. Every calling is an opportunity to give witness/testimony concerning God, if we do it well. Are you in business? Do business wisely and honestly. Are you a home maker? Make your home beautiful, a reflection of our destined heavenly glory. Are you a performer? Make music that draws people to a higher calling and purpose, and do so with such excellence that the world takes notice. In all things, be effective so that your life creates opportunities to show people the goodness of our God.

Prayer for Today

(from the old hymn by Clara Scott)

Father,

Open my eyes that I may see

Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;

Place in my hands the wonderful key

That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for Thee,

Ready, my God, Thy will to see;

Open my eyes, illumine me,

Spirit Divine!

Father,

Thank you! Thank you for life, and love, and your truth. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for love and joy and all the other gifts of your Spirit. Thank you for the brief time you’ve given us on this planet to enjoy its goodness. Thank you for the promised hope we have in you.

And

Father

Make my life count. Use me at work, at home, in every relationship, to draw people to you and your goodness and your truth. Shine your light in me and use me as the light of the world. Make this world a better place because you’ve placed me here.

In the name of Jesus, who makes this world a better place still, even though he died and rose again almost two thousand years ago. Make my life like that.

Amen

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