Superficial Prayers

Recently Derek and I decided to do a Bible Study together. We went out and bought a couple Bible study books by John MacArthur on the book of Ephesians, and we're trying to do one of the lessons each week and discuss it together each Saturday. We haven't got to discuss this week's lesson yet, but I was working on my lesson this morning, and it really convicted me.

The lesson this morning was on Ephesians 1:15-23. In this passage Paul talks about how he always thanks the Lord for the Ephesians when he thinks of their faith and the love they have for each other, and then he goes on talking about the things that he prays for them.

It just struck me how Paul didn't pray that the Ephesians would have a good day, or that everything would go smoothly for them. Does anyone else pray for others that way? I know I do - I want to pray for other people, but my prayers for them always end up being so superficial. My prayers for my own situation are the same way - I pray that the Lord would allow work to go well, or that he would help us with our discipline efforts for our dog, or that he would lead us in the way we should go when it comes to Derek's job.

Not that there is anything wrong with praying about our specific troubles. But I realized as I did the lesson this morning that though I do cast those cares on the Lord, as we are encouraged to do in 1 Peter 5:7, that's pretty much all I do. All my prayers consist of earthly concerns. And the Lord does care about our earthly concerns, and He wants to hear about them. But shouldn't I be focusing a little bit more on eternal things, especially when I pray?

Paul's prayer for the Ephesians was a request that the Lord would give them "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" . . . "that you may know the hope of His calling, what are the riches of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward those who believe".

Do you see what I mean? Paul didn't just pray for the immediate benefits of a blessed day, or that all their present troubles would work out okay. He prayed that the Lord would give them things that would last forever, things that they truly needed - to know God better, and to understand His power, the hope we have in Him, and the riches He gives us when we know Him.

The knowledge of those things is of lasting benefit to those who have them - they can get through all their troubles because they understand God and can be focused more on what is really important. They can appreciate everything they have in the Lord and bring more glory to Him through their troubles, because though the cares they have may not work out exactly like they wanted, they have so many spiritual blessings that are of a more lasting value.

This verse seemed to go well with this concept: "Therefore do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:31-33. If we focus first on honoring the Lord, drawing closer to Him, and keeping our mind on eternal things, everything else will fall into place. And I realized I need to do this not only just in my daily actions, but also in my prayer life. Those unseen, eternal things last a whole lot longer than a good day at work, so I think the proportions of the time I spend praying for each of those things should fit accordingly.

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katie said...
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katie said...

Great post! What a fresh perspective for a woman whose prayers lately have been so much about being free from hers and others earthly discomforts!

Thank you for sharing.

Brittney Galloway said...

That was beautiful! Thanks for sharing from your heart today!

Anonymous said...

such a beautiful post!! I have been convicted recently about giving it all over to God and it is so hard but I really feel as we challenge ourselves we are growing more like Jesus and in Him everyday and He loves it!

AmyK said...

Nice post!
Especially when you look at Psalm 37:25, which says, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."

He takes care of our earthly needs, so we really don't need to ask him. Asking him for things like that is almost like saying that you don't trust Him enough for it already--that He's got it taken care of. And in reality, He took care of our eternal needs as well by sending Christ to die in our stead. We just have to call on Him and basically "tap into" the power in that sacrifice, 'cause Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Also looking at 1 Corinthians 10:13. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

Trust that God already covered the little day-to-day things; certainly there are other things to pray about than that! ;)

AmyK said...

Oh, and James 5:16
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Callie said...

Thanks for the verses Amy! I don't really consider telling the Lord our needs as being insulting to Him - I know He already knows what we need, but I really do think He still wants us to ask Him, because of that verse in 1 Peter. He cares for us, and He wants us to pray about everything that's going on in our lives. But I just think I focus too much on everyday, earthly things in general, when I should be setting my mind more on things that will last.

Callie said...

P.S. Also consider our Lord Jesus's prayer, when He prayed that the Lord would "give us our daily bread". I think the Lord does want us to bring our requests to Him, even the everyday requests (like daily bread) but that shouldn't be all we pray about (which is what I was convicted of). We should spend time in adoration and thanksgiving, as well as confession and supplication when we pray, and I've just noticed that I tend to neglect those first three categories.

My pastor likes to give us this acronym to remind us what is important to cover in prayer:
A - Adoration
C - Confession
T - Thanksgiving
S - Supplication

AmyK said...

I suppose there's also Philippians 4:6-7
6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Callie said...

That's a good one! Especially the "with thanksgiving" part - like I said, I tend to neglect that part.

Jessica said...

Thanks for sharing this! It really puts everything into perspective.

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