Prayer – looking at Paul’s prayers.
I few years ago I spent an ideal few hours looking at Paul’s prayers as recorded in his letters. By prayers I mean these 4 things.
- Prayers – where Paul appears to be praying as he writes
- Prayer reports – where Paul tells his readers about what he has prayed
- Prayer wishes – e.g. May the God of all peace do such and such
- Exhortations to prayer.
I found 42 examples, which I then classified into types of prayer, as shown below, with the number of times they occurred. Obviously some of the prayers contained more than one type of prayer.
- Intercession 26
- Thanksgiving = 17
- Petition 7
- Praise 6
- Exhortation 4
- Listening 1
The fact that intercession was the most common type of prayer wasn’t a surprise. However the prominence of thanksgiving in Paul’s prayer life wasn’t something I had fully recognised. It was also very challenging to me, as my prayers didn’t have the same emphasis on thanksgiving and gratitude.
I recognised that I was in danger of focusing too much on what I wanted God to do, not appreciating what he had already done. Any child who is always wanting more, but doesn’t say thank you for what he has received is lacking something. I realised I was lacking something!
Since that time I have tried to model’s Paul’s example of gratitude, appreciating all that God has given rather than just focusing on what is needed. As Paul himself says in Philippians 4v6 I have tried to present my requests to God with thanksgiving.
I would encourage you to do the same.