I’m currently re-reading Tim Keller’s excellent book on prayer. When you end up underlining a whole page in a book, it is a pretty good indication that the author has nailed something! That happened to me on page 20. Listen to what Tim Keller had to say about the Apostle Paul’s Prayers:
It is remarkable that in all of his writings Paul’s prayers for his friends contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances. It is certain that they lived in the midst of many dangers and hardships. They faced persecution, death from disease, oppression by powerful forces, and separation from loved ones. Their existence was far less secure than ours is today. Yet in these prayers, you see not one petition for a better emperor, for protection from marauding armies, or even for bread for the next meal. Paul does not pray for the goods we would usually have near the top of our lists of requests.
Does that mean it would have been wrong to pray for such things? Not at all. As Paul knew, Jesus himself invites us to ask for our “daily bread” and that God would “deliver us from evil.” In 1 Timothy 2, Paul directs his readers to pray for peace, for good government, and for the needs of the world. In his own prayers, then, Paul is not giving us a universal model for prayer in the same way Jesus did. Rather, in them, he reveals what he asked most frequently for his friends–what he believed was the most important thing God could give them.
What is that? It is–to know him better.