Prayer is certainly one of the greatest privileges we have as believers. We can pray to an Almighty God whose nature is to hear prayer! Think of that. What a blessing we have.
Philippians 4:6-7 has been favorite prayer verses of mine for a very long time. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Consider the simple truths in this passage:
- We are not to be “full of care” but are to bring our requests to God!
- We are to pray about everything by making our requests known to God.
- We are to offer thanks as we pray.
- The result of our praying is that God fills our hearts and minds with the peace of Christ.
Consider the simplicity of the word requests! We are to pray specifically about the matters that are causing us to be full of care. We are to ask God to help us with these matters by making our requests known. In a technical and practical sense, therefore, there can be no such thing as an “unspoken” request! During revival weeks I have often asked people to leave prayer requests on my book table and have promised them that I would make them a matter of prayer during the revival week. We are to bear one another’s burdens and we are to pray one for another, so this is a way for me to serve a local church while I am investing some time with them. I have been surprised at how often people leave a paper with the words unspoken request. While I understand that their request may be of a sensitive nature perhaps, it also means that I am not able to make their “requests known unto God.” Sometimes, in prayer meetings, we ask for people to raise their hand if they have an “unspoken” request. I think the heart is in the right place, but again, there is no way that a “request [can] be made known unto God” without knowing what the request is. Can I gently offer a few challenges in regards to this matter?
- Always pray specific requests. Our God delights in answering prayer. “Ask,” Jesus says, “and it shall be given unto you.” “Ye have not,” James wrote, “because ye ask not.” “Call unto me,” Jehovah told Jeremiah, “and I will answer thee.” And so forth! Pray specifically.
- Don’t ask for unspoken requests. You could ask something like this instead: “How many of you have burdens that you would be unable to mention out loud” and follow that up with some instructions. Take those requests to the Lord. Find a dear friend and share that burden with them and pray together about that. After all, Jesus did teach that “if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19).
- Make sure that your church is so filled with the love of Jesus that people can safely share their heavy burdens with your church family. This is not a cause for “gasping” (Oh my word, can you believe that?) or for “reacting” (you need prayer about THAT?) or for “gossip” (did you hear what their going through?) and so forth. All of us have burdens and needs and God invites us to bring those requests to Him!
- Encourage your church family to share their more private burdens (maybe what we have typically called unspoken requests) with another brother or sister or with at least one other person so the request in their heart and life can be “made known unto God.”
Make sure that you read that first one again! Always give specific requests. When we pray specifically, God not only promises to answer that prayer, He also promises us that His peace will fill our hearts and minds through Jesus!
Thanks for reading,
Your friend, Dave