"And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying FOR ALL THE SAINTS.”
I studied this verse for years, not knowing really why Paul, even in his hardship and imprisonment, would say such a thing. For surely, wasn’t Paul a “saint”? And wasn’t Paul in the toughest place in his life when he said this? Of course he was. But rather than asking for believers to pray for his release or for comfort from God to detox the stress in his life, he instead instructed others to “..pray in the spirit on all occasions….and be alert….and keep on praying for all the saints.”
This one verse has revolutionized how I approach my prayer life. For years, I would (of course) pray for my needs, my kids, my husband, my ministry, my my my…..everything. And for years, I saw the hand of God be slow to answering many of those prayers. Some of our prayers are not prayers at all. They are need lists, rant lists and “to do” lists, as if God is some kind of cosmic bellboy.
Lee Brace of the Navigators says, “Prayers in the Bible are primarily for praying and interceding for the believers. When Christ is lifted up through believers, He draws people to Himself.”
I thought about this for quite some time. Except for Jesus teaching us “how” to pray the Lord’s Prayer, there are few scriptures that tell us how we should pray. So, for a few months I did just what Paul said to do - Pray FOR ALL THE SAINTS, that they would be equipped for duty for the cause of Christ, to fight and resist the devil and his tactics, and that by this, those around them would be drawn to Him.. I prayed and listed missionaries, pastors and ministry leaders right and left. I prayed and singled out specific Christians around the world who are on the front lines; those who literally have to choose between life and death everyday.
Can I honestly tell you? Some of the very prayers that I had prayed for years have now been answered. That’s right. I’m telling you the truth. It’s as if God heard me, because I was interceding for His children; the ones who are spreading truth around the world. I quit praying for my needs, and made it about the needs of others. And all the while I had my focus on scripturally-sound prayers and petition, God has been answering my first prayers.
Here’s an example: Instead of praying for my son, his new job and his relationship with Christ, I’ve been praying, (1) “Lord, thank you for the co-workers and bosses that surround my son everyday. Bless you, God, for raising up the strong Christians at his work, to be an influence on my son.” (2) “I praise you Father for my daughter. I ask in Jesus’ Name, for a strong, Christ-like man to come into her life; the one you have prepared her heart for. May you strengthen him right now, whoever and wherever he is.”
Both prayers mention my kids, but both prayers do more than just ask God for personal reasons. I’m asking God to “equip” the saints around them, to be a hedge of protection, to bring living breathing life to the Christians that my children come in contact with every day, as a guide and spiritual influence. I never prayed like this before. And I also have to say, I’ve never seen such miraculous moves of God in my adult kids’ lives - either, ever.
On this National Day of Prayer, be mindful of “how” you pray. Write it down. Ask God to “equip the saints”, to do the work of the Lord. Be ready FOR CHANGE when you change how you pray.
Special thanks to author/speaker, Cynthia Heald, who changed my life with her teachings and Bible studies.Also on SueDuffield.com