All those at our Bible study had prayer requests, but one person. She said she had nothing that she needed to pray about, which was a surprise. I’ve never found myself in that place. If I don’t have something I want from God, I can think of others who have needs and need prayer.
Today’s devotional reading draws attention to some of the possibilities to put on a prayer list.
Forgiveness of sin and healing: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16) God promises both for prayer is a powerful thing.
Dire circumstances: Such as Jonah when he ran away from God and wound up in the belly of a great fish. “When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:7–9)
To understand why God allows difficulties, exemplified by Paul’s thorn in the flesh . . .
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7–10)
Weakness and a sense of need, a common motivation to pray . . .
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14–16)
Forgiveness and cleansing: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8–10)
This short and incomplete list begins and ends with requests for forgiveness. Christ died that we might be set free from the penalty and power of sin. In the economy of God, I am justified and can rely on what Christ has done. At the same time, whenever I sin, guilt will always keep me from praying. It might be something like resisting God, but it can also be the sin of not caring about the needs of others, or being oblivious to my own needs. For this, asking forgiveness is at least two times on the prayer list.