The great preacher gave us the words to get unstuck from our own prayer loop.
Pray like Paul? I tend to think of Paul as the great preacher, bringing the good news to the Gentiles from Galatia to Thessaloniki to Corinth to Rome. After all, his epistles make up a massive chunk of the New Testament, the earliest documents we have of the church.
But recently, as I’ve been reading Paul–and sometimes I can’t get enough of him–I keep stumbling over prayers in his writing. He frequently exhorts others to pray, exclaims how he prays for the people he’s writing to, and his very words form prayers. Here are a few:
Don’t be anxious about anything; rather bring up all of your requests to God in your payers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Now, may the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philemon 25)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. (2 Corinthians 1-4)
As the old hymn “Balm in Gilead” puts it, “If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus and say he died for all…”
I’d be likely to say, “Nope, I can’t pray like Paul. Don’t have enough of the godly spirit. Couldn’t begin to dig that deep.”
But then, didn’t he give the words for us to use? Now, when I come across a passage in any of Paul’s epistles that feels like prayer, that sounds like it, that moves me, I pray it.
Sometimes when I get stuck in the same loop in my own prayers, I turn to one of Paul’s prayers, like any of the above, and it lifts me up.
Try it. You, too, can pray like Paul. We all can. He gave us the words.