If you’ve been tracking with this series for a while now, you know that I wholeheartedly encourage praying the Word–actually turning the words of Scripture into your own prayers. Many verses can become powerful, intimate prayers, but there is one particular set of verses that is especially useful. We call them the apostolic prayers. Apostolic prayers are prayers that were prayed in the New Testament by Jesus and the apostles.
Here’s a sampling of some of the key themes from the apostolic prayers:
- For wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God (Eph. 1:17)
- For strengthening with might in the inner being (Eph. 3:16, Col. 1:11)
- For love to abound (Phil. 1:9, 1 Thes. 3:12)
- For the knowledge of God’s will (Col. 1:9)
- That the Word of the Lord would run swiftly [rapidly spread and powerfully take hold] (2 Thes. 3:1)
- To glorify God in unity, with joy, peace, and hope (Rom. 15:5-6, 13)
- To preach with boldness and power (Acts 4:29-30)
You can find a great starter list of apostolic prayers compiled by IHOPKC. I have this printed out and always with me in my Bible.
Why Pray the Apostolic Prayers
1. They’re inspired by the Holy Spirit.
There are about 40 apostolic prayers in the New Testament, and these are the ones that burn in the heart of God enough for Him to put them in the Bible forever. The Holy Spirit put these prayers in the mouths of the apostles, and they give us a glimpse of what God desires to do in and through His people. We can think of them as checks already signed by God, just waiting to be cashed–these are prayers that we KNOW God already wants to answer!
2. They’re God-centered.
All of these prayers are directed to God, not Satan. This is God’s model of spiritual warfare. Following this pattern, we learn to spend way more time talking to God than rebuking the enemy.
3. They’re positive, not negative.
These prayers teach us to pray for good things, not against bad things. For example, Philippians 1:9 says, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more…” rather than praying for hatred to be removed. Praying positively guards us against growing frustrated and angry, and instead we get to grow in love for the people we’re praying for. Plus, if a member of a certain group is in the room, they would certainly be hurt and not in unity with me if I pray that that group would “stop being hateful/sinful/etc,” but they could much more easily agree and pray along with me if I pray for an INCREASE in love, righteousness, etc!
4. They’re for the church.
Most of the time, God’s answer to a crisis will be to empower His church to be light in the darkness. Accordingly, these prayers are mostly focussed on the church (the only exception is Romans 10:1 for the salvation of Israel). Paul prays for things like love, strengthening, hope, holiness, and boldness to increase in the church, and the effect would be that the unbelievers in a city would be greatly impacted and brought to salvation.
5. They’re super flexible!
I’ve never found a topic I couldn’t pray with an apostolic prayer. My favourite one is Ephesians 1:17 — “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him”. In my experience, deeper knowledge of God is the starting point of the solution to every problem. I also love to pray 2 Thessalonians 3:1 — “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified…” (NKJV) and imagine the gospel spreading like wildfire through a region.
How to Pray an Apostolic Prayer
Each prayer is so rich with multiple key phrases that can be used as launchpads for intercession! When I pray with one of these verses, I usually choose one phrase at a time to focus on. Here’s an example of praying for my family using my favorite, Ephesians 1:17-19. (Most of the time, I end up using other cross-references that come to mind as well.):
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened”
Father of glory, I ask that You would give my family the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You. Open their eyes to know You more. Let them see You for who You are, as beautiful and glorious (Isaiah 4:2). Let the knowledge of Your character permeate their hearts, affecting every situation and bringing hope and life into every area.
“that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you”
God, I ask that my family would know the hope to which You have called them. Even in hard times, give them a clear vision of the hope You have in store for them (Colossians 1:5).
“what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,”
Jesus, my family is Your inheritance. You died to win their hearts forever as Your bride. I ask that You would reveal to them how much You love them and how You desire them as Your glorious inheritance.
“and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.”
God, reveal Your immeasurably great power to my family! I ask that You would encourage them that nothing is impossible for You (Luke 1:37) and You would work powerfully on their behalf in every situation they need breakthrough.
Did you check out IHOPKC’s list of apostolic prayers? Which one is your favorite?