“Reasoning with God in Prayer”, from P.J. Tibayan -Give life to your Prayer List (Prayer, Intimacy with God, Holy Spirit)

Inject Your Prayer List with Life
Article by P.J. Tibayan

Pastor, Bellflower, California

I want to pray more this year. More than ever before.

God promises that he hears and actively responds to prayers as we come to him in the name of Jesus. We have not, because we ask not.

I’m resolved to pray biblical prayers for myself and others. I’m responsible to pray for the members of my church family because I’m a member of the family and James commands us to “pray for one another” (James 5:16). As a pastor, I’m to be devoted to not only the ministry of the Word, but also the ministry of prayer (Acts 6:4). As a friend, I want those I love to experience the joy of the Lord.

But there’s the problem: my praying through a list of names and needs often feels more like reading a shopping list than meaningfully communing with the Father in heaven.

As a Christian who cares a lot about theological accuracy, I’ve found that if I pray a biblically grounded prayer request then I’m content with that even if I’m not really meaningfully pleading or connecting with God. There has to be a better way.

As I finished up Tim Keller’s book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, I realized the problem, and discovered two antidotes. Tim Keller writes, distilling the insight of J. I. Packer,

. . . Packer is concerned about how many Christians tend to pray from long “prayer lists.” The theological thinking and self-reflection that should accompany supplication takes time. Prayer lists and other such methods may lead us to very speedily move through names and needs with a cursory statement “if it is your will” without the discipline of backing up our requests with thoughtful reasoning.

Packer writes that “if we are going to take time to think our way into the situations and personal lives on which our intercessions focus,” we may not be able to pray for as many items and issues.

“Our amplifyings and argumentation will [then] lift our intercessions from the shopping list, prayer-wheel level to the apostolic category of what Paul called ‘struggle’’’ (Colos,sians 2:1–3). (229–230, see also 250)

I see at least three tips for transforming our praying from grocery-list-praying to wrestling with God.

  1. Reason with God from his word.

First, when praying for names and needs, do not only ask God your specific request, but tell him why you’re asking for it.

Undergirding all of our requests is the spirit of “not my will, but yours be done.” This does not mean that we just tag an “if-you-will” mantra at the end of each request.

Every specific answer God gives to each prayer prayed is already according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11).

It does mean that when we pray our desires and reasons to God, we listen afresh to what his word teaches us about his character, mission, and desires — his will. It’s okay if we don’t know the Bible as well as a pastor or theologian. God knows that. We submit our request and our reasoning to our Father, knowing he cares for us and is drawing us near to him. And we ask him to continually be shaping and aligning our will with his.

For example, instead of praying, “God, please heal John of his sickness,” you might pray, “God, please heal John from his sickness so that he might glorify you at his job (1 Corinthians 10:31), working as unto you and not unto men (Colossians 3:23). Heal him so that as he goes back to work, he’ll accomplish the good works you’ve prepared for him (Ephesians 2:10). Heal him in order that he might earn money as your means of supplying his needs (Philippians 4:19) and giving him the resources he stewards to generously support the Great Commission work in his local church and elsewhere (2 Corinthians 9:6–8). And while he’s sick, draw him near to you and help him examine his soul for sin (Psalm 139:23–24). If there is any, may he confess it to you and others as you lead him (James 5:14–16).”

  1. Reflect on how God might use you to answer your prayer.

Second, reflect on what God is leading you by his Spirit to do in light of your request.

He may be telling you to follow up with the person or contact him. Perhaps he’s telling you to write him a note or ask him a question when you see him on Sunday. Maybe he’s telling you to repent of your negligence in the way you relate to that person. It’s possible he’s leading you to start a conversation where you can begin to share the gospel with him. You’ve asked God to move. What do you think he might be leading you to do?

Pray those self-reflective thoughts to God as you pray about the specific name or need.

Instead of praying, “God, please heal John of his sickness,” you might pray, “God, please heal John of his sickness. Help me to encourage him to draw near to you in the time of sickness. Should I ask him if he’s examined his soul for sin? If I should, can you please help me to ask him in a way that is not misunderstood or offensive? Help me ask in a way that is edifying and in which he feels loved. As I send him a text message, I pray that it lifts up his soul toward joy in you.”

Practice self-reflection. Then make sure you do what you believe God is leading you to do as you participate in God’s sovereign response to your prayers.

  1. Resist the urge to cram and rush.

Third, wrestling with God in prayer takes time. As you intercede for others, God is drawing you near to himself.

You can’t microwave meaningful moments with the Father. Moments like these are marinated.

As Keller puts it, “We may not be able to pray for as many items and issues.” I confess that I often pray for 11–13 church members a day like I’m reading a grocery list with a quick helpful thought between names. We should consider extending our prayer time or choosing to pray through fewer names, taking our time while drawing near to him.

As we meet with God in prayer, may we continually learn to wrestle with our Refuge and struggle with our Stronghold, that we may receive strength in the inner man for those we love and serve.

As you slow down, reason with God, and reflect for yourself,

“May [God] grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may 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 3:16–19).

P.J. Tibayan (@pjtibayan) is a pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Bellflower, CA, where he lives with his wife, Frances, and their five children. He blogs at gospelize.me and helps lead The Gospel Coalition Los Angeles Regional Chapter and the Shepherd LA Cooperative.

Source:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/inject-your-prayer-list-with-life

More Resources on Prayer:

Suggested Prayer Resources:

From L.Willowslinks for further reading on site on Prayer

The Power of Prayer, from R.A. Torrey (united prayer, worship, God who Loves)

Rejoice in Hope, Be Patient in Tribulation, Be Constant in Prayer by John Piper

Draw Near to God in Prayer: John Calvin on The Definition and Effectiveness of Prayer, by Dr. Joel R. Beeke

Draw Near to God Through Prayer; John Calvin’s “Rules of Prayer”

Prayer; Pouring to God through Christ, John Bunyan on Prayer

Rejoice in Hope, Be Patient in Tribulation, Be Constant in Prayer by John Piper

Conforming to God’s Holiness from Ligonier Ministries of RC Sproul

Is Anything Too Hard For The Lord? Sermon from C.H.Spurgeon, 1888 Metropolitan Tabernacle

Draw Near to God in Prayer: John Calvin on The Definition and Effectiveness of

Prayer, by Dr. Joel R. Beeke

Puritan Prayer, The Deeps

The Love of Jesus, Puritan Prayer

Praying in the Spirit, Martin Lloyd Jones

Eight Keys to Prayer by Marilee Pierce Dunker, Ambassador to World Vision

Praying in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, by John Walwoord

Praying in the Name of Jesus by O Hallesby

And So We Pray, Reconciliation

The Saint’s Happiness by Richard Sibbes

The Prayer of Worship and Adoration by J. Oswald Sanders

Praying the Lord’s Prayer from Tim Keller

Kingdom Centered Prayer from Tim Keller

Prayer Transforms us by God’s Presence by Ben Patterson (God’s Prayer Book)

Revival and the Holy Spirit from Martin Lloyd Jones

“Into the Winds of Eternity’s Herd” a worship poem from L.Willows (See Jesus, God’s Glory, Humility)

Before Your sky, I bend to my knee
Heaven’s gaze does humble me.
All my heart like a river flows
into God’s ocean, prayers rise- love goes.

Take me into Your sea of Light.
Cast my soul. Lift me towards you this night.
Lord my smallness is drawn like a bird,
into the winds of Eternity’s herd.

Make me into what would only be Yours.
Let me be like a Promise from whom love would pour-
with my heart nearing as river into
Holy, God’s ocean, the Prayer at sky’s pew.

Lord, my smallness is drawn like a bird,
into the winds of Eternity’s herd.

© 2019 Linda Willows

Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Isaiah 40:26
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Psalm 86:8-10
There is none like thee among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like thine. All the nations thou hast made shall come and bow down before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great and doest wondrous things, thou alone art God.

“God is in the Midst of Her”, C. H. Spurgeon Commentary on Psalm 46.5

psalm45beloved

Psalm 46:1-5 King James Version (KJV)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

C.H. Spurgeon Commentary on Psalm 46:5
“God is in the midst of her”
Psalm 46:5

Verse 5. “God is in the midst of her.”

His help is therefore sure and near. Is she besieged, then he is himself besieged within her, and we may be certain that he will break forth upon his adversaries. How near is the Lord to the distresses of his saints, since he sojourns in their midst!

Let us take heed that we do not grieve him; let us have such respect to him as Moses had when he felt the sand of Horeb’s desert to be holy, and put off his shoes from off his feet when the Lord spake from the burning bush.

“She shall not be moved.”

How can she be moved unless her enemies move her Lord also? His presence renders all hope of capturing and demolishing the city utterly ridiculous. The Lord is in the vessel, and she cannot, therefore, be wrecked.

“God shall help her.”

Within her he will furnish rich supplies, and outside her walls he will lay her foes in heaps like the armies of Sennacherib, when the angel went forth and smote them.

“And that right early.”

As soon as the first ray of light proclaims the coming day, at the turning of the morning God’s right arm shall be outstretched for his people. The Lord is up betimes. We are slow to meet him, but he is never tardy in helping us. Impatience complains of divine delays, but in very deed the Lord is not slack concerning his promise.

Man’s haste is often folly, but God’s apparent delays are ever wise; and when rightly viewed, are no delays at all. Today the bands of evil may environ the church of God, and threaten her with destruction; but ere long they shall pass away like the foam on the waters, and the noise of their tumult shall be silent in the grave.

The darkest hour of the night is just before the turning of the morning; and then, even then, shall the Lord appear as the great ally of his church.

Resource: (to read full commentary…read below)
Blue Letter Bible.com