The Prayers of the Apostle Paul
The Most Effectual Prayers of and for the Church Today
by Steve Santini
The ways in which the Father brings us to understand the cross of Christ are as varied as the stars and as numerous as the grains of sand by the seashore. As we learn Christ each part becomes more fitly joined together in his body so that in full sharing we grow together unto the holy temple in the Lord. Even so, there are some ways of growth that are common to all. One is prayer.
In light of this I would like to share something from personal growth that has helped us experience the mystery of godliness described by the apostle Paul. After my wife and I were placed in a situation that motivated us towards an intense desire to know in 1995, we reasoned that there was a purpose for the inspiration and that we were not to go back to just holding to Christian basics. We spent a time searching ministries and messages. I walked and prayed and asked, "What is your will for our lives?" Eventually I came across a book on prayer, which suggested personalizing biblical prayers by changing pronouns and nouns. For example it suggested changing:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
Lord you are Steve's shepherd, I shall not want.
About the same time I was directed to a minister who was beginning what turned out to be a twelve-month series on the apostle Paul's gospel. I had removed my minister's hat years before, so I just listened. During this time I realized that Paul had prayed timeless prayers for us centuries ago that are as powerful today as they were about two millenniums ago. During our prayers my wife and I began to occasionally pray for each other by inserting our names in Paul's prayers and changing the corresponding pronouns. In retrospect I can say that this was a turning point, however gradual it has seemed, to understanding the Father's will for our lives. It has not always been easy for us to give up previous understandings and to accept, without a living apostle Paul to readily answer questions, that periods of wonder and possible perplexity are a part of the course. Although there are obstacles to understanding the mystery, I believe the search is worth it in the scheme of all things. Why? There is a pearl of great price in and from heaven that is to be laid hold for each calling and each chosen vessel.
We began to focus on several things. We read and studied what is written by and taught about the apostle Paul, asking questions as we patiently moved along. We decided to trust the Holy Spirit to give us understanding and to lead us to others with understandings.
We prayed Paul's prayers of Ephesians chapters one and three, Philippians chapter one, and Colossians chapter one for others and each another. For example we changed:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints... Ephesians 1:17,18
That you, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give Steve the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ: the eyes of my understanding being enlightened; that I may know what is the hope of your calling, and what is the riches of the glory of your inheritance in the saints...
These are not prayers for prosperity, health or peace. They are prayers for knowledge, wisdom and understanding - the three most valuable commodities from God to man. (Proverbs 3:11-20) Attaining an understanding of God's will may bring pressure as one is challenged to discard broken cisterns of unbelief and lifestyle for the fountain of living waters.
I would like to be able to promise prosperity and health for those who seek through the prayers of Paul, yet, in honesty, I cannot. I can, though, promise what the words themselves promise, that the faithful eyes of your understanding will be enlightened so that you may know the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of the Father�s inheritance in the saints. And I can say as these things are attained other aspects of life will fulfillingly flow.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. II Corinthians 6:17,18
With your desire and willingness to be formed more deeply by His hands, would you join us in making it a custom to pray the prayers of the apostle Paul for your growth and understanding and the growth and understanding of the church so that all may enter His presence in praise with knowledge, understanding and wisdom?
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. Proverbs 3:13,14
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Proverbs 9:10: