Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray….The Lord has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord accepts my prayer. (Psalm 5:2, 6:9)
Fran Tarkenton is a former NFL quarterback who led his team to three Super Bowls. He wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal lambasting himself and other athletes for their shallow prayers. He wrote that asking for God’s intervention didn’t work out as he wanted. He prayed fervently before each of the three Super Bowl games the Minnesota Vikings played in. Tarkenton said that he was sure the Lord would be on their side against the Oakland Raiders since they were the villains of the league. Yet the Vikings lost. Before every game, the coach asked the most God-fearing player to lead in prayer. Then after this moment of devotion, the team all shouted in unison, “Now let’s go kill those guys!”1
Instead of praying self-centered prayers, we can be Bible-centered. Our lives are busy and our days are filled with noise, so Jesus urges us to go to a quiet place to connect with Him without distraction. Then we can focus on letting His word speak to us and direct our prayers. Praying according to the Scriptures prevents us from praying selfishly, it ensures that God hears and answers our prayers, and it helps us to live more Christ-centered lives. Praying according to the Bible keeps the unbelieving world from squeezing us into its mold, and lets the Holy Spirit transform us from within.2
This builds upon our previous post which began a list of things to pray for. You can read Things to Pray For (Part 1)
Ask the Lord to Help You Love Your Neighbors
Scriptures: We love because He first loved us….Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord….So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets….Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (1 John 4:19; Lev 19:18; Matt 7:12; James 2:15-17)
Comments: The proof of love is its capacity to suffer for others’ benefit….Love means giving and forgiving…If my heart is right with God, then every human being is my neighbor….Love must act to bless others even when we get nothing out of it….Religion that does not glow with love is unsatisfactory….I am determined that I am going to love everybody, even if it kills me! I have to set my heart on it. By God’s grace, I am going to do it….As soon as God’s love was shed abroad in my soul, I loved all Christians, whatever denomination, who loved the Lord Jesus with glad and sincere hearts.3
Pray for the Needs of Others
Scriptures: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others….Far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you….Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective….I urge that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone. (Phil 2:3-4; 1 Sam 12:23; James 5:16; 1 Tim 2:1)
Comments: The greatest gift we can give to others is praying for them….When you take the time to pray for others, God finds the time to bless you. Nothing proves that you love someone more than mentioning them in your prayers….When you can’t forgive someone, pray for them. It may or may not change them, but it should always change you….It is not only our duty to pray for others, but also to desire the prayers of others for ourselves….I have been benefited by praying for others. By making an errand to God for them I have often gotten something for myself.4
Pray for People Who Do Not Yet Know and Follow Christ
Scriptures: Open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from Satan’s power to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus….Pray for everyone. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people….The Son of Man came to seek and to save people who were lost….The Lord is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (Acts 26:18; 2 Tim 2:1-6; Luke 19:10; 2 Peter 3:9)
Comments: Because of Jesus’ burden for the lost, He instructed us to ask the Lord to send laborers into the harvest field. We ask the Lord to send people into their lives to clearly present Christ’s gospel….Our continuing to pray for someone is a testimony of our faith, not in them or in ourselves, but in God….Precede all your labors with earnest, diligent prayer. Do not rest on the number of tracts you have given out, because a million tracts may not lead to the conversion of one single soul. Expect everything to come from the Lord’s blessing and nothing at all from your own exertions.5
Bonus: Advice on Evangelism
- Pray for the opportunity to share your faith in Christ.
- Pray to be ready to share God’s good news.
- Pray for wisdom, gentleness, and boldness in sharing your faith.
- Pray for the right words to share Jesus’ gospel.
- Pray for patience and respect to listen as you tell others of Christ.
- Pray for God to prepare the other person’s heart and mind as you share your faith.
- Thank God for the opportunity to glorify Jesus’ name.6
Though it is hard to wait on God, and though it sometimes seems to us that God is slow, God’s timing is always perfect. He is never late. He always acts at just the right time. (
To be continued.
Notes (various Bible translations are used): 1 Fran Tarkenton, “Does God Care Who Wins Football Games?,” Wall Street Journal (1-12-12). 2 Rom 12:2 J.B. Phillips New Testament. 3 John Boys, Oswald Chambers, Roger Forster, Richard Glover, A. W. Tozer, George Whitefield. 4 Thomas Watson, Gladys Aylward, Craig Groeschel, William Gurnall, Samuel Rutherford. 5 Bill Thrasher, Mark Dever, George Muller. 6 Adapted from How to Stay Christian in College by J. Budziszewski, p. 61-63.