Praying is really nothing more than talking to God. Sometimes a prayer, in a moment of desperation, might be as simple as, “Oh God, help me!” Unfortunately, some Christians are so afraid of praying incorrectly, they don’t pray at all; a child need not feel that way with his father. But on the other hand, many of us have fallen into a routine. We say basically the same things when we pray and we haven’t stopped to examine our prayers in light of Scripture. So here are three simple ways to make your prayer life more biblical.
1. Know What It Really Means to Pray “in Jesus’ Name”
Nearly every prayer I’ve ever heard – or said – has ended the same way, “in Jesus’ name, amen.” I grew up thinking of these words like a postage stamp on the end of my prayers; the only way to make sure a prayer got to God was to attach these words on the end. In fact, I’ve heard Christians ask, “If I pray, while laying in bed at night, and drift off to sleep before saying, ‘in Jesus’ name Amen’ will God answer my prayer?” Understanding what it means to pray in Jesus’ name would deeply enhance many Christians’ prayer lives.
To do something in someone’s name is to do it by their authority. The Christians in Colossae were told, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). That didn’t mean they were to say, “In Jesus’ name…” after everything they said or did. It meant they were to live, speak, and act under the authority of Jesus and for His glory.
One simple way to understand the phrase, “in the name of” is to think of a policeman shouting at a fleeing criminal, “Stop in the name of the law.” He is saying the law gives him the authority to command the criminal to stop.
Concerning prayer, Jesus told His apostles, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you” (John 16:23). This wasn’t about giving the apostles a formula for their prayers. It was Jesus granting them special access to God and to the blessings of God. It was like Jesus saying, “When you are My follower, you have VIP access to God.”
Christians are given this special access to God. By Jesus’ authority – or “in His name” – we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). It is as if, when we bow in prayer, the hosts of heaven ask, “What gives you the right to approach God?” And we answer, “I’m with Jesus. He cleansed me and invited me here.” And the hosts of heaven say, “Then approach with confidence!”
If you want your prayers to be more biblical then you have to realize what a special privilege it is to pray in the name of Jesus Christ.
2. Pray for Deeper Spiritual Understanding
If our prayers in the public worship assembly are any indication, we pray far more about physical matters than spiritual matters. Don’t misunderstand, it isn’t wrong to pray for physical concerns. It isn’t wrong to pray for Sister So-and-so and her health. It isn’t wrong to pray for rain. It isn’t wrong to pray about the safety of our troops. But are we really praying like the apostle Paul?
Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Ephesus was that they, “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19). Be honest with yourself, when was the last time you prayed to have the strength to comprehend the love of Christ?
Paul’s prayer in Ephesians isn’t an isolated example. This is the kind of thing for which Paul prayed night and day for all the churches. For the church in Colossae, Paul prayed for them to “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).
If you want your prayers to be more biblical, you will pray for understanding and comprehension of spiritual truths. Pray like the Psalmist, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18).
3. Pray for Others
We often pray for the people in our family, in our congregation, and from our country, but we often forget a multitude of people for whom we ought to be praying. Here are some of the people for whom we are told to pray:
- “those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28)
- “for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1)
- “for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:2)
- for evangelists and missionaries “that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored” (2 Thessalonians 3:1)
If you want your prayers to be more biblical, you will pray for those you know, as well as those you don’t know. You will pray for those you adore, as well as those you fear. You will pray for those who love you, as well as those who hate you.
Personally, I want to be more like Epaphras. Paul told the Colossians that Epaphras was “always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12). The word translated “struggling” is the Greek word “agonizomai,” from which we get the word “agonize.” This word meant to fight, labor fervently, or strive.
Epaphras was truly a prayer warrior, who prayed that the church would stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. That’s the kind of prayer life I want to have. How about you?
I love you and God loves you,