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Paul's Prayers - An Example for Us to Follow

– What Do You Pray About? –


PART 3 - Paul's Prayer Requests for Himself

There are several instances in which Paul mentions prayer requests for himself and (when applicable) for those who were with him. These requests are listed below. Note that, as far as his own life was concerned, Paul's focus wasn't that he would "have a nice day." As you examine these prayer requests, pay attention not only to the requests themselves, but also to the motives or reasons he gives, for having such prayer requests. (Example: Who did he focus his attention on?)


  1. Prayer for God's help, when he (and those with him) proclaimed the good news about Jesus Christ.

  2. Prayer that what he did would be accepted by the other believers - Romans 15:31.

  3. Prayer for deliverance from people who opposed him.

  4. Prayer for deliverance from difficult circumstances and imprisonment.

  5. Prayer that he would be able to visit the people he was writing to.


If we look at the general context of these prayers for Paul, there are some principles we can learn. These things are briefly mentioned here. (A more in-depth look at them can be found at the end of this study - see "Appendix 2.")

  1. Paul was willing to do the types of things he asked others to do. Every time Paul asked the people to pray for him, he also prayed for them. [In the passages we have examined, he expressed his desires (prayers) for them before he asked them to pray for him. In some instances, he also asked them to pray for other Christians, before giving any specific requests for himself.]

  2. Every time Paul mentions a request that they were already praying for him, he focuses on God as the one who would answer their prayers. He also mentioned his prayers for them, somewhere in the letter.

  3. When Paul made general comments, such as asking the people to pray "constantly" (that is, to make it an ongoing characteristic of their lives), he wasn't asking them to do anything he didn't already do. He showed them, by his own example, how they should pray: Praying for them was an ongoing part of his life (Romans 1:9, Ephesians 1:16; Colossians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:11).


When it comes to prayer requests for Paul, it may be interesting to compare Paul's prayer focus to the people's prayer focus. The people focused on what would benefit Paul - his deliverance from enemies or his restoration to them. Paul's focus, however, was on what would benefit the people. His desire was that whatever happened to him would be for their good. They focused on Paul, as an expression of their love for him; Paul focused on the people, as an expression of his love for them. Each fulfilled the command, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39)! [Of course, when they were willing to yield their own wills (and prayer requests) to the will of their Father in heaven (who does all things for the good of those who love him - Romans 8:28), they would also be expressing love for God (Matthew 22:37).]

We should make it our desire to pray for others who are being used by God. When we do so, we are, in a sense, right there with them. As Paul told the Roman Christians, when they prayed for him, they were joining him in his "struggle" (Romans 15:30), in his work for the kingdom of God.

Dennis Hinks © 1999, 2001

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