The Prayers of a Builder: The Apostle Paul’s Pattern of Prayer (Part 3)

The apostle Paul instructed Christians to follow both the doctrine he taught and the example of godly living he provided. He commanded these things by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In Paul, we find a pattern or example of faith and practice that God intends for us to learn from and emulate. In the context of “Epaphras ministry,” or the ministry of praying for the people of God, have Paul’s prayer life in mind as you read the following verses from his epistles:

 I Cor 4:15-17  Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son, whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord.  He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

I Cor 11:1-2  Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

Phil 3:17  Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Phil 4:9  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.

I Tim 1:16  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

II Tim 1:13  What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

***

Paul’s admonitions to follow him apply just as fully and forcefully to his praying as to anything else he models or teaches. Consider these verses again, specifically in the context of prayer:

I Cor 4:15-17  Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me [in prayer]. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son, whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord.  He will remind you of my way of life [and prayer] in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

I Cor 11:1-2  Follow my example [in prayer], as I follow the example of Christ. I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings [on prayer], just as I passed them on to you.

Phil 3:17  Join with others in following my example [in prayer], brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern [of prayer] we gave you.

Phil 4:9  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me [concerning prayer], or seen in me—put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.

II Tim 1:13  What you have heard from me [concerning prayer], keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

***

Let it be settled in our hearts and fixed in our minds: If we wish to pray in a way that is pleasing to God, in a way that is effectual and fruitful, we simply must study and follow Paul’s teaching about prayer. We cannot ignore his “pattern of sound teaching” and example without missing God’s best or even going badly astray.

Let us hold to a sound doctrine and practice of prayer, standing securely upon the foundation of Scripture, including Paul’s plentiful teaching and example. Within these holy bounds, there is great scope for the wonderful and the miraculous, for mighty exploits, for outpourings of the Holy Spirit from on high, and for the edification and eternal blessing of the saints.

Those who come to the Word in faith and heed what it says need not fear “dead orthodoxy” nor any quenching of the Holy Spirit. The Word and the Spirit agree; they ought never to be separated from each other nor to be set against each other. The Word does not rob us or tie our hands. It enriches us, sanctifies us and sets us free indeed. It reveals God’s unspeakably great and gracious purposes for those who trust in Christ. The Word is Spirit, says Jesus, and it is life!

The Word is the one and only light to our prayer-path, so let us pray in that light and in that light alone. There is no place in God-pleasing prayer for human invention or speculation. The Bible tells us everything God would have us know about prayer, and what it tells us is not only good, it is glorious. If we will let the Bible teach us about prayer, and if we will take the Lord at his word, we will surely see the glory of God.

In the next post:  We will begin to examine that sensible, solid, sound, excellent, fruitful, wise, loving, glorious life of prayer taught and lived by Paul. We will discover a greater vision of God’s purposes and his power to accomplish them—even working through such little ones as we are—than perhaps many Christians have dreamed of.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s