We now come to examine the prayers of Paul in his epistles . There can be no doubt that prayer was not simply a doctrine in Paul’s mind ; it was a dynamic in his life . He lived and walked , and preached and counseled and wrote in the spirit of prayer . He is the man who coined the phrase ‘ pray without ceasing ‘ (1 Thess 5:17) .
The life of Prayer is the secret of Paul’s amazingly effective apostolic ministry . It is the reason for his powerful preaching . Please note that Paul did not think of himself as a gifted orator , such as the Greek philosophers were ( 2 Cor 11:6) . His messages in themselves were not with ‘ lofty speech or wisdom’ ( 1 Cor 2:1) . He confessed that he came to the Corinthians ‘ in weakness and in fear and much trembling ‘ ( 1 Cor 2:3) , but ‘in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God ’ ( v.4) . Where did Paul get this power for effective ministry from ? Certainly we may say that he was gifted by God . However , on the human plain we must also say that he fetched it by prayer . The gospel that Paul preached so mightily was not just ‘ information from God’ . It was inspired. The old people called it ‘ unction’ . It lived in the preacher , and as I said , he fetched the life for his gospel messages from God , who inspired him by the Holy Spirit to preach messages that would send spiritual earthquakes down the centuries , reverberating into our own day , and no doubt it shall do so until the Lord Jesus returns !
Let’s consider the prayers of this man whom God used so much . Let us learn the art of prayer from him as he learned it from the Lord Jesus .
- 1:8-10 Prayer as thanksgiving and petition
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.”
In this prayer we see two things :
(i) His thankfulness and prayerfulness to God for the people , and especially when he hears of the fact that they are doing well . In this case , he thanks God for the fact that their faith is being spoken about everywhere . Let us learn from this to praise God whenever we hear that people are doing well spiritually . Notice that Paul prays for them always  - i.e. whenever he thinks of them , which is often . Paul must have had a remarkable prayer list !
(ii) His prayer for God to open up a way to come to them . Paul knew what he wanted. He wanted to be a blessing to the Romans for the sake of God’s glory . He knew that had unique gifts from god and he wanted to add these gifts to them for a season , to strengthen them ( v. 11) , and to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith ( see also 15:32) . But Paul wasn’t just getting Impulsively on to the next ship . He was asking God to confirm His will to Paul . I can relate to that . Ever since I had been to Germany, I am looking for another opportunity to return for a short while to strengthen the believers there – but by God’s will and providence alone !
- 8:15 ; 26-27 : Prayer inspired by the Spirit
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
8:15 : Here we learn something important about prayer ! All who are born of the Spirit are no longer slaves to fear , but they are privileged to speak to their heavenly Father ( see also Gal 4:6) with the help of the Holy Spirit . Paul explains this aspect about prayer further in vv 26 &27 . Nowhere does prayer become more powerful and meaningful than when we are placed in situations of absolute need , where we have no wisdom , and no strength . And sometimes we are even wrong in our prayers - and at such times , we learn that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness (v.26) . Our need for help in prayer is apparent as we do not always know how to pray . It is at such times that the Holy Spirit interprets our groanings . He knows the mind of Christ . He knows how to make good prayers out of bad prayers .
- 10: 1 Prayer that they may be saved !
Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
Paul had an incredible burden for the salvation of his people , Israel . His prayer burden was connected to the fact that they appeared to have a zeal for God , but not according to knowledge . When last ( or did you ever) pray for people like that ? On the strength of this prayer I believe that we need to pray much more for the many churches and Christians in Namibia who appear to have much zeal for things religious , but who do not have the Lord Jesus as the SOLE directing passion for their lives or churches . Paul says of such : “ Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved ! (converted) ” A radical prayer !
- 12:12 Constantcy in prayer
“ Rejoice in hope , be patient in tribulation , be constant in prayer “ . Steadfastness, perseverance in prayer is an important aspect of prayer . Perseverance is demonstrated in Lk 11 ( the friend at midnight) and Lk 18 ( the importunate widow) . People who persevere in prayer according to God's will normally get what they ask for .
- 15:5-6 Prayer for unity and like- mindedness
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unity is an important platform from which to do the work of the church ( see also Paul’s instruction in Eph 4:1-6 and Jesus prayer in John 17 ) . Satan thrives in chaos , and the progress of the gospel is hindered where there is no unity . Therefore, we must always pray for unity , and live in unity .
( Please note : the sermon was interrupted at this point , because we were running out of time . This concludes our studies in prayer during our Prayer Week 2011 ) . I hope to do a complete series on the prayers of the Bible at some time in the future . I can think of no better way to help people to understand the life and practise of prayer than by learning this from the Scriptures )
 Gr. adialeiptos ‘ without ceasing , not in the sense of ‘uninterrupted ‘ , but in the sense of ‘constantly recurring’