By Brad Fidler
Brad is the lead Elder at Niagara Community Church and a member of the Board of Directors for National House of Prayer
Ok, so you’re growing a little bit in confidence in prayer. You know that He loves the sound of your voice and the sight of your face. That’s awesome. That’s a great place to start. We know that salvation is not a one-time event, it’s a process. We are meant to come to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…no longer children, tossed to and fro… up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Eph. 4:13-15). We’re to “go on to perfection (maturity)” (Heb. 6:1). That includes our prayer life. As beautiful as it was for my 8-month old son to excitedly connect with me through his babbling, the relationship got richer as his vocabulary developed, and it continues to richen as he continues to mature (and let’s be honest, as I continue to mature, too). In the same way, we want to mature in prayer.
On the night He was betrayed, Jesus told His disciples that whatever they asked for in His name, He would do it. He even repeated it for emphasis (Jn. 14:13-14). Similar idea in Matthew 18:18-20, when He gave them authority to bind & loose, and told them the Father would do what two on earth prayed for in His name. So how do we pray like that? Here’s the simplest way I know to pray “in His name”: we pray in His name (in agreement with Him and His purposes) when we pray the Word. Think about it. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). That word “inspiration” literally means “God-breathed.” The Scriptures were all inspired, breathed by Him…including
Many believers are familiar with praying the Lord’s prayer, whether verbatim or as a sort of guiding structure to otherwise spontaneous prayer (which is great!). But there are a number of other prayers in Scripture, which are also inspired by the same Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke in the power of. We can use them in the same way! While there are many different prayers to look at, let’s just look at some of the Apostolic Prayers (prayers prayed by the apostles, under in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the New Testament).
When I was first presented with the idea of praying these Apostolic Prayers 20 years ago, one of my first objections was that they couldn’t be that helpful. I mean, there are so many people, events, situations, needs, concerns etc. to pray for, a handful of Scriptures can’t possibly be useful in all those situations. Plus, I’ve always preferred praying spontaneously and by the leading of the Spirit…praying from words on a page felt too structured.
In my years of praying prayers from the Word, I’ve discovered 3 benefits: prayers from the Word cover every circumstance, they foster unity in corporate prayer, and they are powerful. In the last 20 years, I haven’t come across a single situation (personal, corporate, national; emergency or “maintenance”) that doesn’t relate to one or more of the Apostolic Prayers. Prayers for righteousness to increase (Phil. 1:9-11). Prayers to grow in revelation and understanding (Eph. 1:15-19). Prayers to be strengthened by the experience of His love in the inner man (Eph. 3:16-19). Prayers for hope in dire circumstances (Rom. 15:13). Prayers for God to move in power, in healing, in signs & wonders, and for His people to be emboldened in the face of persecution for the sake of the gospel (Acts 4:24-31). Prayers for us to be equipped to
walk worthy and be filled with the knowledge of His will (Col. 1:9-12). Prayers for us to mature and grow in the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 1:4-9). Prayers for effective, fruitful preaching (2 Thes.3:1,5; Col. 4:3). There are more, these are just some of my favourites. It’s amazing how helpful it is to have a strategic starting point from the Word when praying in any situation.
Praying the Word encourages unity in prayer. There are so many points of difference in the Body of Christ today, and they can keep us from agreeing on earth together in prayer (Mt. 18:19). The temptation is often there to sit and listen to someone else pray, then decide whether the theology behind their prayer warrants my agreement or not. But I tell you what, if someone prays a prayer from the pages of Scripture, it’s difficult for any Jesus-loving believer to find a good reason to cross their arms and disagree with it. If someone prays a prayer that is God-breathed, we pretty much have to agree with it (assuming it’s not prayed wildly out of context). Praying the Word brings unity in corporate prayer. Above all, these prayers are powerful and effective. “For the word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature
hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him…” (Heb. 4:12-13a).
Prayers from the Word get to the heart of the matter: they cut through my thoughts, opinions and theories, and push the buttons that need to be pushed. They hit the target. Whether you’re a new believer, or an intercessor with 50 years of prayer under your belt, I encourage you to look for these prayers in the Bible. I used to use them if I couldn’t think of anything to pray…now I start with them, almost every time. Better than coming up with my own words, I’m praying words that the Holy Spirit Himself inspired. Be free to launch out from these prayers as the Spirit leads. But I’m telling you, it’s easier to pray (both alone and corporately) in accordance with His will — in His name — when you use the prayers He put in Scriptures for our benefit. It’s like a cheat sheet for prayer. Go ahead…pray the Word!