3 Powerful Truths Paul’s Prayers Reveal about Spirit-Led Living

3 Powerful Truths Paul’s Prayers Reveal about Spirit-Led Living

I’ve heard one can tell a lot about a person based on how they pray. Thankfully, God invites us to come to Him authentically, laying bare our souls before Him, expressing our heaviest and rawest emotions. Unveiling the deepest parts of us to the One who loves us unconditionally, when we praise Him and when we cry out in frustration, is a beautiful thing. In fact, the greater our intimacy with Christ, the less filtered our words become.

This is precisely why I find Paul’s prayers so inspiring. Through them, the first century church planter demonstrates what it looks like to live fully yielded to God and His plans.

His prayers recorded in Scripture reveal three characteristics of a Spirit-led Christian.

1. They Make Prayer a Lifestyle

As we grow closer to Christ, our desire to connect with Him, hear from Him, and participate in His kingdom plans increase. We also recognize we cannot love Him and others well in our own strength. We realize, in progressively deepening ways, how much we and our world need His wisdom, power, presence, and grace.

In discussing Paul and his biblical letters, Timothy Keller wrote, “He does not see prayer as merely a way to get things from God but as a way to get more of God himself.” He turned to the Lord, his closest companion and ever-present source of strength, for every need, with every frustration, and with every praise.

His prayers reveal a heart that remained vitally connected to Christ, in both joyous and frightening moments, and that wanted others to experience the same intimacy with the Savior. Numerous times, he mentioned how he “always” prayed for various people or “constantly” remembered them in his prayers. In Romans and Colossians, he thanked God for the witness of their faith, in 2 Corinthians for the Lord’s comfort for the hurting, and in Philippians for their partnership in the gospel. In his letter to Timothy, he urged the leader to pray for all people, and in Ephesians asked for prayer that he might fearlessly share the gospel.

In each of these instances and more, Paul demonstrated his ongoing communication with His Savior and how much he prioritized this in his life and ministry.

2. They Celebrate Evidence of Grace

I’ve heard it said “what we celebrate, we multiply.” Consider some of your most motivating experiences — the teacher who spoke words of affirmation that led to your current career. Or, perhaps a coach saw and called out one of your emerging talents. Most likely, such encouragement motivated you to try harder — to become the student or athlete they envisioned. I imagine we can all think of times when a critical statement produced the opposite effect.

Perhaps Paul, a thriving early church leader, understood this, or maybe he was simply overjoyed by the spiritual progress he witnessed. Regardless, he always seemed to recognize God’s hand in people’s lives. To the believers in ancient Corinth, he wrote, “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way — with all kinds of speech and with knowledge e— … Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed” (1 Cor. 1:4-7).

In Colossians, he thanked God for the people’s faith in Christ and love for others, both of which sprung “from the hope stored up” in heaven (Col. 1:3-5). He expressed similar gratitude for those in Thessalonica, stating, “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:2-3).

To the church in Rome, he wrote, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world” (Romans 1:8).

I find these words particularly significant when I consider how some of the first century Christians to whom he wrote behaved. Although some of the churches, such as the one in Thessalonica, were thriving, others were experiencing serious problems. For example, in Corinth, people were excusing blatant sexual immorality – including temple prostitution and incest – as permissible because of one’s freedom in Christ. The community was also plagued with division fueled by snark and favoritism.

The church in Rome, comprised of Jews and Greeks, was divided as well. People argued about the right way to follow Jesus and what and how Gentiles were to participate in religious sacraments. But, while Paul addressed these issues, calling believers to holiness, he didn’t allow their sinful behaviors to overshadow God’s grace.

Plus, most of these men and women were relatively new in their faith. Likely, Paul understood that it takes time for one to change from pagan mentality to a gospel-infused worldview that permeated every area of one’s life. I’m reminded of my early twenties. Although I responded to the gospel as a child, I didn’t grow in my faith until my early twenties, when I connected with a group of committed Christ-followers. My perspective, formed by popular culture for over two decades, changed slowly, one Bible study, sermon, and prayer at a time.

This held as true for first century believers, especially those with pagan backgrounds, as it does for the men and women sitting in the pews beside us each Sunday. May we, like Paul, remember, wherever they, or we, are at in our journey, we are always lavished with grace on top of grace.

3. They Yearn for Everyone to Know Jesus

God’s love has a multiplying effect. The more we take it in, the more we have to give. Scholars also tell us that we become like the thing we worship. Therefore, the closer and longer that we follow Jesus, the more we resemble Him. His desires become ours, and His driving focus, outside of bringing glory to the Father, is bringing life to souls once dead. His passion for me, you, and the world was so great that He willingly endured one of the cruelest executions known to man, to bring us salvation and entrance into God’s global, eternal family.

Paul embraced hardship and intense persecution for the same reason. He was willing to endure anything, even intense pain, if through it, others might turn to Christ. That included those who jealously followed him from town to town, hoping to increase his difficulties. But he refused to waste time on bitterness. Instead, he wrote:

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:15-17).

In Romans 9:3, he wrote, “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race.” These words gain significance when one recognizes that the men following Paul from one village or city to another were Jewish, Paul’s people. While they longed to increase Paul’s persecution, and incited a mob to help, Paul prioritized and prayed for their salvation.

Throughout his letters, the evangelist taught many important lessons and spoke powerful, life-changing truths. He encouraged, inspired, and corrected. But most importantly, he routinely turned to God – in every season, whether hungry or fed, joyous or discouraged. Sprinkled throughout his New Testament letters, his prayers reveal patterns and passions of a Spirit-led life.

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Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.

As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event  and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE  and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.