What should I pray for?
Sometimes you just don’t know. Sure, there are times when it’s obvious. Healing, financial provision, salvation, protection, direction. These come to mind easily. But what prayers are most pleasing to God? If you really want to see Him move in your life, here are a few prayers that promise to bless the Father’s heart — and yours.
HOW SHOULD I PRAY?
In order to get the big picture, I encourage you to start with my first article on prayer: How Should I Pray? Of course, these ideas aren’t mine. Otherwise they wouldn’t be worth reading! Instead, I’ve sifted and gathered truth from what God Himself has to say on the subject — in His Word.
So before diving into what you’d like to pray for, make sure you’ve got a solid foundation. This includes a clean heart and relationship with God. Then, return to this article when you’re ready to move on.
WHAT SHOULD I PRAY FOR?
Once you are found in Jesus, what follows is a collection of solid, tried, true — and powerful — prayers that will keep you close to God’s heart — and moving within His will.
How can I speak with such confidence? Because, effective prayers come from humble and honest hearts. Their substance, therefore, is nothing new. Thanks to the Bible, we have centuries of prayers that moved heaven and earth at our fingertips.
WHAT SHOULD I PRAY FOR? — LET SCRIPTURE BE YOUR GUIDE!
Do you know that Jesus Himself prayed Scripture? He knew the Old Testament like the back of His hand. The Psalms, for example, were so embedded in our Savior’s soul that even in excruciating pain, God’s Word was on the tip of His tongue. In the midst of death, Jesus cried to the Father in the words of King David (Psalm 22:1):
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
If Jesus prayed Scripture under such duress, surely you and I should have the presence of mind to petition God in daily living.
What Should I Pray for? — Preparing Your Heart
With this incentive, here’s a small gathering of biblical petitions. Think of this. When you lift your heart to heaven, you’ll be joining saints of old as you take their words upon your lips. These are prayers that the Holy Spirit saw fit to memorialize — and sanctify — in His Word.
If you’re looking for the path straight to the Father’s heart, it’s through His Holy Scriptures — and the prayers and lessons therein. When these appeals pour from an honest, humble heart, God will respond.
1. PSALM 139:23-24
Here’s a great prayer to start off with:
Search me, God, and know my heart. Put me to the test — examine me — and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful or wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
I often present this request to my Father — at the beginning of a longer time of prayer, because it gets my heart in the right place.
By the way, did you know that King David wrote this Psalm? This is significant, because our Father describes him as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). May you and I aspire to this!
Resources for Praying God’s Word
Here’s an aside. If you want to dig deeper into any of these Bible verses by using a simple online resource, check out this link to the Blue Letter Bible. It’s free, and you’ll get to explore the original Greek and Hebrew, which often leads to a richer understanding. I use this application constantly in times of prayer and study.
For instance, in the previous verse, hurtful way can also be translated as way of pain. Then lo and behold, a striking contrast emerges between the way of pain and God’s way of everlasting life!
God rewards those who dig into His Word with a hungry heart.
2. EPHESIANS 1:15-21
The apostle Paul was a great man of God who deeply loved the believers in Ephesus. As he interceded for them, Paul handwrote his prayers. Here’s one such petition — the apostle’s love practically bursts off the page! It’s beautiful, inspired, and covers all the bases. I often offer this prayer to the Lord, on behalf of those I know and love.
Paul begins: “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers . . .
- that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom
- and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
- the eyes of your understanding being enlightened;
- that you may know what is the hope of His calling,
- what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
- and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe,
- according to the working of His mighty power
- which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.“
Do you see how I broke this long prayer into individual sections (Paul didn’t do that for us)? 😉 It’s Scripture — and now it’s in easy prayer-form! I encourage you to break down Paul’s other prayers this way — it will simplify your meditation and application of the passage.
3. JAMES 4:1-5
Jesus beckons you to ask, seek, and knock. (Matthew 7:7)
In other words — pray and don’t give up!
But! This is not a license to name and claim whatever you want.
Check your motives. Keep these verses (from James 4:2-3) in mind when offering your requests:
“You do not have because you do not ask God.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
You adulterous [unfaithful] people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
Ouch. James is right! Jesus says to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) The Almighty One knows your needs before you ask. Ask according to His will, and you will never be disappointed.
What are you devoted to?
A side note:
Elevating any person, desire, or thing — to the place of complete devotion — is idolatry. Only God is worthy. The phrase “devoted to” — in Biblical usage — means “to arrange your life around something”. Be mindful. Even good things — family, activism, wellness, career — can become sinful when they usurp God’s preeminence in your life.
WHAT SHOULD I PRAY FOR? — JOIN GOD WHERE HE’S WORKING!
Do you have lots of ideas for your life? It’s great to think creatively, plan and step out in faith to see what God will do.
But have you ever thought about joining God where He is already working?
You don’t have to start something new.
There are many ways to trace God’s ever-moving hand upon the world around you. Suffice it to say that His plans are much bigger — and more exciting — than anything you and I can dream up.
In fact, there’s an entire book dedicated to this topic — which I love and highly recommend. Are you eager to learn about coming alongside your Heavenly Father, and stepping into the places where He’s already active? Then click the book review on Experiencing God, by Blackaby, and take a read.
IN CONCLUSION — THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE LIST!
Just in case you thought this was it, please know that the list of effective prayers is endless! With the Bible as your resource, and the Holy Spirit as your guide, there’s no limiting the powerful prayers of a humble heart. Embrace Jesus, and seek God‘s will for your life, instead of your own.
These two verses are a great take-away:
- “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much.” (James 5:16)
- “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (Proverbs 3:34 & 1 Peter 5:5)
I hope you’ve found these few Scriptures a helpful starting point, as you begin the adventure of praying God’s Word. It’s my hope that the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth, as you follow hard after the One who loves you most.
I look forward to hearing your experiences in praying God’s Word. Be patient. Wait upon the Lord. Learn stillness of soul. And persevere! When you draw near to God — in all honesty and humility — He will draw near to you. Blessings, Ali 🙂