To me, prayer has mainly been about myself and my own relationship with God. Daily I lift up my own soul to the Father and seek to be refreshed by Him and His Word. Surely I prayed for others but a lot of times I’m embarrassed to say that was secondary to my own soul’s happiness in the Lord.
I’ve been rereading a book by D.A. Carson called A Call to Spiritual Reformation. It’s a study of Paul’s prayers. In one chapter he quotes from most of Paul’s prayers and asks the reader to take time in reading them. He even challenges his readers at the end of the chapter to read through the prayers once a day for a month.
What strikes me about these prayers is how others focused they are. I’m sure Paul prayed for himself and sought to enjoy personal communion with the Lord. And granted, these prayers are contained in letters to people so naturally the prayers would be directed towards them. But listen to the language he uses to describe how he prays:
I always thank God for you
I have not stopped giving thanks for you
Remembering you…I keep asking
I thank my God every time I remember you
We continually remember
How can we thank God enough for you
Night and day we pray most earnestly
We constantly pray for you
I was especially struck by his devotion and love for his fellow believers. They are his brothers and sisters, his beloved, his true companions, his fellow workers and fellow soldiers, even his joy and his crown.
Do I pray like this? I’m embarrassed to confess that I don’t. I don’t have this love and this zeal. My heart is callused by worldly comforts. My time is taken up by trivial pursuits.
I’m going to take Carson’s challenge and read through these prayers for a month. We’ll see what God does.