Praying Scripture for Your Family and Friends – Part One (August) introduced the idea of using Scripture in our prayers. This month, we touch on the topic of praying for our teens and adult children using the prayers of Paul the Apostle. Next month will be about praying specifically for those who are grieving.
In Part One of this series, I gave an example of using Scripture to pray for my husband. I included a long version of a prayer I have used often. This prayer shows you how you can take the truths found in the Bible and incorporate them into your prayers.
To pray passages of Scripture for our family and friends, it is best that we first learn them, to study them. I am not talking about memorization, but of understanding what the passage is all about in context. We should learn who wrote the passage, who the passage is written to, and who the passage is written about. Is the author talking about believers or unbelievers? That makes a huge difference in how we could use that passage in prayer. Is the passage part of prophecy for a particular time and people? Or is it a promise for all believers? We must understand the context before we use a passage in prayer.
Some passages, particularly Proverbs, are lessons on how the world works. Often the principles in Proverbs are conditional: If you do this, that will be the result. One cannot “claim” the result without meeting the conditions.
Be careful not to stand on a “promise” that is not actually for you! We should not grab one verse and “claim it” as our own without first understanding the whole verse and its context. We should read it through (along with the verses before and after) to understand what the author is writing about. Once we understand the who, what, when and why of a passage, we can more effectively use the passage in prayer.
Paul’s epistles in the New Testament contain prayers on behalf of the believers in the early church. These prayers can be used to intercede for believers today! You can pray them for your children and friends who are believers. You can even pray them for yourself!
When I first began using this model for prayer, I had the passages typed out so that I could read them as I prayed. Eventually, I memorized some of Paul’s prayers – along with other passages – which I could then pray for my teens and adult children as I went about my day. When praying for my children, I like to use New Testament passages almost word for word. So, for me, memorizing was important.
(It helps if we memorize passages, but simply having them written out is okay, too. And after you have prayed a passage many times, you may find that you have it memorized without even trying!)
The book of Ephesians is written by Paul the Apostle to the church at Ephesus (the believers who lived there and to other believers in the early church). For many years I have prayed Ephesians 1:15-20 over my teens and young adults. This is one of the first I memorized. We have had teens who do not always make wise choices. Go figure! My prayer is that they would understand all that God has for them. When I see them in difficult situations where they seem to be forgetting all that it means to be a child of The King, I pray this passage:
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.
My prayer goes something like this:
David knows You. He knows Your truth and He knows Your Son, but he is making unwise choices right now. Please give him the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that he may know You better. I pray that You would open the eyes of David’s heart so that he would know the hope to which You have called him. And help him to act on that hope. I pray that he would understand the riches of the inheritance available to him as a saint and that David would know Your incomparably great power for him, a believer. Help him remember that Christ is raised from the dead and seated at Your right hand. Your power, that raised Christ from the dead, is available to David. Help him to know that this power is for him today as he faces battles in life. Amen.
Another passage to pray for our children who are believers is found in Philippians.
Philippians 1:3-6, 9-11
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.
Paul is the author of this letter to the saints in Philippi. This passage is Paul’s prayer for the believers. Using this passage, I might pray —
Thank you for my Margaret. I am so grateful that she is in partnership with the Gospel, spreading the Good News of Christ to her friends and classmates. I am confident that You have begun a good work in her and will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ. I pray, too, that her love for You and those around her may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. I pray that she will be able to discern what is best in every situation so that she may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. And that she will be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for Your glory and praise. Amen
As you can see, I don’t really change the words much. The words in the Bible are powerful! They are inspired by God Himself. Paul was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So why would I think I could come up with something better? You can simply use the words written by Paul or the other writers and add your child’s name in the prayer.
By the way, the “day of Christ” refers to the Day of His return. This means that the work He began in my son Andrew did not stop when Andrew died. God will continue this work, which He began in Andrew, until He returns! How cool is that! And if you live in our town, you may see the work continuing in our family, in those who knew him and in the young people who benefit from the memorial scholarship set up in Andrew’s name.
The apostle Paul wrote many prayers found in the New Testament. Here are a few more of Paul’s prayers for believers. Try praying one of them for your family this week. You can simply read the passage and insert your child’s or your friend’s name as appropriate.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul also asked that believers pray for them. These passages are wonderful to use while praying for your pastor and other church leaders!
2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.
Ephesians 6:18-20 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
My challenge to you this month: Find one of Paul’s prayers that speaks to you. And pray it for your child, or your friend, or yourself.