Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

Polycarp’s blessing

“Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High Priest himself, the Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth and in all gentleness and in all freedom from anger and forbearance and steadfastness and patient endurance and purity, and may he give to you a share and a place among his saints, and to us with you, and to all those under heaven who will yet believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his Father who raised him from the dead. Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings and powers and rulers, and for those who persecute and hate you, and for the enemies of the cross, in order that your fruit may be evident among all people, that you may be perfect in him.” 

Polycarp, To the Philippians (ca. AD 120) in Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers (219). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

HT: W. Varner

More prayers for children

See the first ones here along with the explanation for their structure.



Pursuing Father,

The nations without Your Son are dark

Spread your Word and create a spark

That we will be a light for You

Ever faithful, ever true

Telling of Jesus as we go

His salvation ready to show



Loving Father,

Your promise still remains

Your lovingkindness always the same

Your Word is sure and true

Came He, Your will, to do

Blessing you have promised

To those who you call by name

Your covenant love to accomplish

Your Son, always the same.




Redeeming Father,

In sin we came to be

In love you came that we

Might know Your Son

The begotten One

And live always with Thee




Holy Father,

Incline our hearts to hear your Word

That our eyes may behold

Your testimonies, our delight

A treasure more than gold

Unto Jesus who lights our way


Prayers for Children

Thanks to John Starke for his realistic article Teaching Children the Gospel in Everyday Prayers. In the same vein, I have penned a few dinner prayers for my children that try to accomplish a few things: 1) address various attributes of the Father, 2) teach a simple theology, and 3) focus on Jesus. For the sake of aiding memory they also rhyme and they’re short. Enjoy!



Everlasting Father,

We thank you for the Way.

We thank you for the Truth.

We thank you for the Life . . .

Jesus, who we bless tonight.




Holy Father,

You teach us to love

You teach us to give

You teach us to follow

Now teach us to live

For Jesus our Lord




Gracious Father,

You give us daily bread

Through Jesus we are led

Our cares and worries we bring

Help this our hearts to sing

To Jesus our Savior



Daniel: Reading & Praying Jeremiah

Having spent the Summer preparing a Bible Study on the book of Daniel—which by the way explains where I have been to my fellow contributors—the book has weighed heavily on my mind for a while. The passage that was really brought home to me was Daniel 9, a passage of which I’m sure our readers are familiar. The prayer of Daniel 9 is one of the truly convicting sections of the book, as the reader is challenged by Daniel’s sincerity and eloquence. The prayer stands as a fitting example for believers of all times.

While tempted to jump in and talk about the OT use of the OT (this is not a typo), a topic I would like to post more about in the future, I thought I would share some general thoughts about an implication I believe comes home to we who share in leading congregations in corporate worship.

Daniel 9:2 makes an interesting shift in the book. Daniel had previously received revelation through visions and dreams. Here, the text shifts to the interpretation of Scripture. Instead of receiving a new divine vision, Daniel reads, tries to understand Jeremiah 25, and prays as a response to this text. The particular verse that mentions the 70 years is Jer 25:11 (see also 29:10), but it is pretty clear based on his prayer that he was reading the whole text. Moreover, it is also clear that Daniel had a mastery of the Scripture that was available to him.

As a result of his understanding the text of Jeremiah, Daniel responded in the following manner: “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (v. 3). Daniel literally “turned his face toward the Lord God,” which is a fitting description of prayer. In prayer, believers turn their face from the world, its allurements, and their preoccupation with themselves to the Lord their God. The focus of their mind turns to God Himself and His will for their lives. Daniel’s manner in prayer revealed a determined, fervent heart; not an in-passing, flippant approach to prayer. He was desperate, and he lingered long before the Lord in order to understand God’s will. This was not simply a quick request before reading Scripture to ask for God’s blessing; this was a prolonged time of fasting and sitting before the Lord in a humble state. We learn much from Daniel’s countenance, but…

If you are like me, prayer sometimes is difficult because we do not know what to pray. What is it about the prayers of those we think of as good pray-ers? I am pretty certain that good praying is not marked by its use of King James English. I think what sticks out in my mind about such individuals is that their prayers are well versed in Scripture. I think this is the reason that their prayers seem to be an expression of the heart of God. They know Him well, because they have spent time in His Word. This reflects itself in their praying as they view life through His lens, not their own.

For those of us who struggle with this, praying in light of Scripture, I believe, is an important principle for modern believers. If God speaks to us in His word—and He does—and if we desire to pray according to His will—as we should—then we will consistently pray in light of the text. When we read Scripture, in other words, we learn what God’s heart truly loves and what He desires. Therefore, when we pray with the words of Scripture, we are assured that our requests are not self-centered or outside of His will. Our requests will be focused upon Him and His glory and in line with His larger plans. When we read the Bible for our devotions or when reflecting upon Sunday’s sermon, it would be helpful for us to rephrase what we have learned in a prayer. This will help us develop not only a better vocabulary for prayer but also train our hearts to respond to God in a way that pleases Him. In many ways, this is why the book of Psalms has been so well loved by believers. In it we find the writer dealing with the highs and lows of life, and we learn how he responds to those situations with his words. The same is true of Daniel in this passage. His mind was filled with the Word of God. Much of the language he uses in his prayer is not new to him; it is taken from what he was reading in Jeremiah. This prayer may leave you saying, “If I could only pray like Daniel!” Well, the good news is that you can, because he was simply a faithful student of God’s words, and he recognized their continued validity in his life.

In my opinion, praying in light of the significance of the text, particularly during corporate worship, is extremely valuable. We practice this at our church in order to ensure that the prayers we pray reflect our belief that Scripture, where God speaks and clearly articulates His will, should inform the way we approach our Lord.

When God Doesn’t Answer Prayer

Nine Hindrances to Fruitful Intercessory Prayer:

  1. Cherishing unrepentant sin in your heart (Ps 66:18)
  2. Asking with selfish motives (James 4:3)
  3. Failing to ask in faith (James 1:5-7)
  4. Failing to pray according to God’s will (1 John 5:14-15)
  5. Failing to care for your wife (1 Peter 3:7)
  6. Failing to ask in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14)
  7. Failing to abide in Christ (John 15:7)
  8. Failing to let Christ’s words abide in you (John 15:7)
  9. Failing to be persistent (Luke 11:5-10; 18:1-8)

If God has not been answering your prayers lately, could it be that one (or more) of these is the reason?

Sunday Prayer

“O Lord, we praise Thee for keeping alive a testimony for the truth in the land. There have been dark and evil days, and some that professed to be Thy servants have turned traitors to the gospel; yet still Thou hast heard the cry of the faithful, and the candle is not put out, neither hath the sun gone down, but even unto this day the Lord, the God of Israel reigneth in the midst of His people and His saints exult in His name.”

from C. H. Spurgeon, The Pastor in Prayer (Banner of Truth, 2004), 66-67.

God’s Priorities for Your Prayer Life

Do you ever wonder what kinds of priorities should be reflected in your prayers? Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 6:9-13 where He exhorts us to pray for:


1. The Manifestation of Divine Glory (9)

2. The Coming of God’s Kingdom (10)

3. The Provision of Physical Needs (11)

4. The Cleansing of Daily Sin (12)

5. The Blessing of Spiritual Protection (13)

Preaching in your public prayers

Are there things we should avoid when we pray in public worship? I listened to a sermon recently in which a well-known expositor began his sermon by addressing Satan in his prayer. Something to the effect of “Satan, you have no authority, you are bound . . .etc.” I listened to another sermon where the closing prayer fleshed-out the preacher’s final point which he had not developed during the sermon.

How many times have we concluded a sermon and started to pray only to drift back over into the other lane and round-out a few points of the sermon in our prayer? We must avoid the temptation to keep preaching to the people in our prayers. When we pray we are no longer addressing the people but “Our Father who art in heaven . . .” Therefore pray to God, it is not a time to preach to the people or worse announce to Satan that he is somehow “bound.”

Samuel Miller wrote that “the excellence of a public prayer may be marred by introducing into it a large portion of didactic statement.” More recently, Ligon Duncan has noted “The purpose of prayer is not to provide an outline of the text, the sermon or some topic in Christian doctrine, but to lead sinners to the throne of grace.”

Any thoughts?

Sometimes tragedy hits very close to home

Yesterday, between our morning services, one of my dear friends from church was standing in the lobby looking troubled. I approached and asked how she was doing. She was not doing well. She had just received a phone call from her dad. Her brother is connected with Y-WAM in Denver. He had just dropped his roommate and his roommate’s girlfriend off at the dormitory. Fifteen minutes later her brother got a phone call; the girl’s life and another friend had been taken and his roommate was in critical condition with a bullet in his throat.

In God’s providence I was preaching on prayer that morning. We took some time to pray for these events at the beginning of the second service. It was a sweet time of koinonia.

As an encouragement to the pastors who read this blog, sometimes tragedies like the one in Nebraska or the fires in SD or floods in Indonesia escape our attention because they are too far from home. But when those events come close to home, we are quickly sobered to counsel and prayer. Let the events of tragedy that come into our purview cause us to pray for those affected. Let us exhort the people under our care to pray for those who are devastated by these tragedies. We simply never know if and when those events might come to our doorstep. At those moments we’ll covet the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ across the world.

Please keep this dear family in prayer and especially the families of all those who lost children in this heinous act. At moments like this I cling to 2 Cor 1:3-5

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

Preachers need prayer

“and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:19-20).

“praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:3-4).

“Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

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