On Mothers day our church choir sang an old hymn with this refrain:
If I could hear my mother pray again,
If I could hear her tender voice as then!
So glad I’d be, ‘twould mean so much to me,
If I could hear my mother pray again.
I agree … and so did devotional writer Henry Bosch: “The simple prayers from our infant lips were but echoes from our mother’s heart. Can we ever forget the soft caresses of those hands of blessing on our heads as we knelt by our beds? Can we fail to remember her night vigils, her seasons of intercession, her well-marked Bible, and her words of admonition? Her actions spoke eloquently of Him who taught us of the greater love of God.”
When we pray for our family and friends it’s natural to mention their obvious material needs. We ask for their health, safety, relationships and materials needs. While it’s fine to intercede for “our daily bread,” the more important spiritual needs are usually overlooked. “God bless Bill, God bless Sally” requests are okay to get started, but when we are cooperating with the Holy Spirit in prayer, our petitions will be more substantial.
Studying biblical prayers encourages us to grow in intercession. One that is rich in meaning and implications is Paul’s prayer for the Colossian believers. His requests demonstrate a faith that identifies spiritual values as greater than societal values.
Consider this prayer pattern to intercede by faith.
“…We … do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:9-13).
As you review these five petitions, keep in mind the people you’re concerned about.
1. Pray for their deepening knowledge of God’s will.
Our automatic attitude is to view everything from the reference point of our interests. Instead, “We … do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will.” Discerning God’s will requires “all wisdom” (discerning how it relates to life), “and spiritual understanding” (discerning God’s ultimate intention).
I heard that at a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bobby Richardson, former New York Yankee second baseman, offered a a simple but profound prayer: “Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen.”
2. Pray for their dignified living.
Those who are redeemed have a high calling. “That you may walk worthy of the Lord.” Because of our union with Christ we are accepted in Him, yet a dignified life seeks to be “fully pleasing [to] Him.” As the Holy Spirit empowers us we can be “fruitful in every good work…” Good deeds do not have any part in meriting salvation, rather, they demonstrate the reality of our faith. and love.
3. Pray that they would grow to know God more deeply.
God’s Word is filled with revelation that can enable us to be “increasing in the knowledge of God.” This is not to be restricted to doctrinal knowledge; this learning involves experiential knowledge. We need to know Him (relationship) not just know about him (scholarship).
4. Pray for their divine enablement.
Although all needed strength resides within the believer through God’s Spirit, we need to appropriate this by faith rather than relying on our own resources: “strengthened with all might.” If our circumstances seem overwhelming, we are reminded of the magnitude of God’s enablement: “according to His glorious power.” Wow; His power is limitless!
5. Pray for their perseverance.
The Christian life in not a sprint; it’s more like a marathon. No wonder we need to intercede for endurance: “[enabled…] for all patience and longsuffering.” It’s one thing to hang in there. It’s even more supernatural to persevere “with joy”–another fruit of the Holy Spirit.
We are helped to intercede effectively through this prayer pattern. This kind of praying qualifies for increased confidence in the results as well. We can claim this promise: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14,15).
 Our Daily Bread, RBC.org (April 27, 1996).
Copyright by John Woodward 1998, 2013. Permission is granted to reprint for non-commercial use when credit is given to the author and GraceNotebook.com. Biblical quotations are from the New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson).