Posted by: davidlarkin | October 19, 2014

What Should We Pray For? A List From R. A. Torrey

ratorrey

Christians know that they should pray.  Jesus admonishes us in the parable of the persistent widow to pray always and not to lose heart. Luke 18:1-8 [ESV]  Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 [ESV].  What then should we pray for?  We have the Lord’s Prayer as a model, but it is not a prayer that can be said without ceasing or it becomes vain repetition.

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Matthew 6:7 [NKJV]

I was pleased to find a very complete delineation of what we should pray for in a work by a Yale alumnus, R. A. Torrey (1856-1928). Torrey was an American evangelist, pastor, educator, and writer.  He graduated from Yale University in 1875 and Yale Divinity School in 1878. From 1882-1883, Torrey studied theology at Leipzig University and Erlangen University in 1882–1883.   He had a blessed career of service for the Lord, impacting countless lives over the years.  A prolific writer, he published books to help Christians live holy lives and appreciate and use the Scriptures in their lives. From Wikipedia,

Torrey joined Dwight L. Moody in his evangelistic work in Chicago in 1889, and became superintendent of the Bible Institute of the Chicago Evangelization Society (now Moody Bible Institute). Five years later, he became pastor of the Chicago Avenue Church (now The Moody Church) in 1894.

In 1898, Torrey served as a chaplain with the YMCA at Camp Chicamauga during the Spanish-American War. Later, during World War I, he performed similar service at Camp Bowie (a POW camp in Texas) and Camp Kearny.

In 1902–1903, he preached in nearly every part of the English-speaking world and with song leader Charles McCallon Alexander conducted revival services in Great Britain from 1903 to 1905. During this period, he also visited China, Japan, Australia, and India. Torrey conducted a similar campaign in American and Canadian cities in 1906–1907. Throughout these campaigns, Torrey utilized a meeting style that he borrowed from Moody’s campaigns of the 1870s. In 1907, he accepted an honorary doctorate from Wheaton College.

In 1912, Torrey was persuaded to build another institution like Moody Bible Institute, and from 1912 to 1924, he served as Dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) and contributed to the BIOLA publication, The King’s Business. Beginning in 1915, he served as the first pastor of the Church of the Open Door, Los Angeles. Torrey was one of the three editors of The Fundamentals, a twelve-volume series that gave its name to what came to be called “fundamentalism”.

In his 1898 book, What the Bible Teaches, Torrey presents a systematic theology with propositions derived from Scripture.  In his chapter on prayer, the section on “What should we pray for,” Torrey presents 41 separate substantial matters about which Scripture provides express authority for our prayers.   I added one proposition at the end of Torrey’s list, number 42, so that we should pray for our government authorities that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 [ESV],  Romans 13: [ESV].

Here is my adaptation of Torrey’s list of what we should pray for taken from Scripture, with his citations.  I have not included Torrey’s excellent exposition of the Scriptural support for his propositions, which I encourage all to find in this fine book.  Although the book was published more than 115 years ago, it is not dated because the Scriptures were the same then, and because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Hebrews 13:7-8 [ESV].

A. Prayers Relating to God.

1. We should pray for the hallowing* of God’s name. 

Matthew 6:9 [ESV] “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name.”

* “hallow” means to honor as holy.

2. We should pray for the coming of God’s kingdom.

Matthew 6:10 [ESV] “Your kingdom come.”

3. We should pray for the coming of God’s king, Jesus.

Revelation 22:20 “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

4. We should pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10(b) [ESV] “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

5. We should pray for the reviving of God’s work and God’s people.

Habakkuk 3:2 [ESV] “O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.”

B. Prayers Relating to Ministers of the Word.

6. We should pray the Lord of the harvest that He send forth laborers into his Harvest.

Matthew 9:38 [ESV] “therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

7. We should pray for a door for the Word to be opened for those who preach the Word.

Colossians 4:3 [ESV] “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—

8. We should pray for words to be given to ministers of the Word in opening their mouths, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel, that in it they may speak boldly, as they ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:18-20 [ESV] “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. . . that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

9. We should pray for ministers of the Word, that the Word of the Lord may run and be glorified.

2 Thessalonians 3:1 [ESV] “Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,”

10. We should pray that God’s ministers may be clothed with righteousness.

Psalm 132:9 [ESV] “Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,”

C. Prayers for Spiritual Blessings.

11. We should pray for forgiveness of our sins.

Psalm 51:1 [ESV] “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Acts 8:22 [ESV] “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.” See also, Luke 11:4, Psalm 25:11, Luke 18:13, Hosea 14:2, Exodus 34:9, 32:31, 1 Kings 8:47-50.

12. We should pray the Lord to search us and try us.

Psalm 139:23-24 [ESV] “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

13. We should pray for cleansing from sin.

Psalm 51:7 [ESV] “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Psalm 19:12 [ESV] “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.”

14. We should pray God to create in us a clean heart.

Psalm 51:10 [ESV] “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

15. We should pray for God to hold us up.

Psalm 119:117 [ESV] “Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!”

16. We should pray to be kept back from, and delivered from the dominion of presumptuous sins.

Psalm 19:13 [ESV] “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

17. We should pray that God will not let us wander from his commandments.

Psalm 119:10 [ESV] “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!”

18. We should pray that we not be brought, nor enter, into temptation.

Matthew 6:13 [ESV] “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Mark 14:38 [ESV] “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

19. We should pray to be delivered from the Evil One.

Matthew 6:13 [ESV] “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

20. We should pray that the Lord keep watch over the door of our lips.

Psalm 141:3 [ESV] “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”

21. We should pray Yahweh to teach us His way, the way of his statutes, His path, to do His will.

Psalm 86:11 [ESV] “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”

Psalm 119:33 [ESV] “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.”

Psalm 25:4 [ESV] “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.”

Psalm 143:10 [ESV] “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!”

22. We should pray the Lord to so teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12 [ESV] “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

23. We should pray to be taught to pray.

Luke 11:1 [ESV] “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

24. We should pray the Lord to open our eyes to behold wondrous things out of His own Word.

Psalm 119:18 [ESV] “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”

25. We should pray to be led and guided.

Psalm 31:3 [ESV] “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.”

Psalm 27:11 [ESV] “Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.”

Psalm 139:24 [ESV] “And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

26. We should pray for a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:16-20 [ESV] “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 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, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,”

27. We should pray to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:9-10 [ESV] “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

28. We should pray God the Father that He would grant us according to the riches of His glory, that we may be strengthened with power through the Spirit in the inner man.

Ephesians 3:14, 16 [ESV] “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,”

29. We should pray the Lord to make us to increase and abound in love toward one another, and toward all men.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 [ESV] “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,”

30. We should pray the God of peace to sanctify us completely, and that our whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 [ESV] “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

31. We should pray for personal nearness and communion with God and the glad contemplation of his beauty.

Psalm 27:4 [ESV] “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”

32. We should pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:15 [ESV] “who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit,”

33. When the joy of the salvation of the Lord has been lost, we should pray for its restoration.

Psalm 51:12 [ESV] “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

C. Prayers for Temporal Blessings.

34. We should pray for wisdom.

James 1:5 [ESV] “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

35. We should pray for our daily bread.

Matthew 6:11 [ESV] “Give us this day our daily bread.”

36. We should pray to the Lord for healing in physical weakness.

James 5:14-16 [ESV] “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 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.”

37. We may pray to God for keeping from the wicked who do us violence and the deadly enemies who surround us.

Psalm 17:8-9 [ESV] Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.

38. We should pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Psalm 122:6 [ESV] “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!”

39. We should pray for the peace of the city in which God has placed us.

Jeremiah 29:7 [ESV] “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

40. We should pray for anything which is according to the will of God.

1 John 5:14 [ESV] “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

41. We should pray for everything we need.

Philippians 4:6, 19 [ESV] “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. . . And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

42. We should pray for our government authorities that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 [ESV] “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

Romans 13:1 [ESV] “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

A printable PDF list without citations is HERE — “What Should We Pray For – List

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