Have you ever thought about the way that you pray? If you never have, perhaps you should. I find that when I am praying daily, it can be very tempting to focus all of my prayers on myself. Here is what I mean. We have an issue when we are praying man-centered prayers to a God-centered God. God is first concerned about God and when we center our prayers on anything else, we are not in sync with God’s agenda and character. Does this mean we do not pray for ourselves? Absolutely not. In fact, we should pray more heavily for our own soul than we do. But when we pray for ourselves, we should have God on our mind and at the center of our prayers. When we pray for others souls, we should do the same thing. Pray for them with God at the center of the prayers.
How can we have such a God-centered mind when we pray? Maybe we should begin by praying for a God-centered mind to pray with. Praying to be prepared to pray properly? It may make your head hurt, but this is exactly what we need—more dependence on God. Most directly, the way to be God-centered in your prayers is to be Word-saturated in your prayers. Saturating your mind and prayers with the Word of God will keep your prayers focused on God and his agenda. Your prayers will be more in sync with God. In praying to a God who is primarily concerned with his glory and it being praised, exalted, and known, our prayers should beat with this very rhythm of God’s desire to be glorified. I would like to suggest eight ways that we can biblically pray God-centered prayers for our own souls and the souls of others so that we would be more in sync with God and his agenda.
1. Pray for God to instill a desire for him in you. “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain” (Psalm 119:36).Too often we do not seek God in the Word of God because we do not genuinely desire him. And even when we do read, it is out of some begrudging duty or methodical and mundane adherence to some reading plan (which I use and believe are very helpful and wise to use by the way). Therefore, to begin being more God-centered in your prayers and having a soul that is more in sync with God, I believe we should pray that God grant us and incline our desires for him in his Word. We can do this by praying Psalm 119:36.
2. Pray for God to give understanding once the desire to be in the Word is instilled. “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). Once we have a desire for God in his Word, it is vital that we have understanding in our reading. It is God who grants this understanding. Therefore, we should pray for God to illumine the eyes of our hearts to see him for who he is and not who we want him to be.
3. Pray for God to enlighten your heart to be amazed at what you see in the Word. “…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” (Ephesians 1:18). Not only should we pray for understanding, but also for our hearts to be flooded with emotions at the wonders of God. May we not simply read for more knowledge of facts, but to be moved and enlightened by the glory of God in his Word. In order to be more in sync with God, we must be moved by and amazed at God. Pray for God to grant this by praying Ephesians 1:18.
4. Pray for unity with God even as you still live in the flesh. “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:11). Even when God enlightens and illumines our hearts, we are still living under the cloud of the flesh even though we are liberated from its hold on us. The darkness of our souls tries to creep into our lives. Pray that God would unite us to him so that the light of his glory would overwhelm the darkness of sin in our lives as we fear his name.
5. Pray that your heart would be satisfied with God and not the world. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14). Still yet, our souls can be illumined and enlightened and yet somehow lack joy. We are tempted to find satisfaction in the things of this world—both things that are sinful and not. This is a prayer that should be uttered at the moment our souls wake from slumber. When we read the Word of God we must pray that God would satisfy us with himself. We are in need of joy and not just any joy, but lasting and satisfying joy in God. In praying for your soul and the souls of others that you and they would be in sync with God, pray Psalm 90:14.
6. Pray for God to strengthen your joy in the face of suffering and adversity. “…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16). There will be times when it will be difficult to be joyful. There will be times of suffering, heartache, and adversity. In times such as these we will need strength to be joyful in God. Pray to the God of strength to grant this strength. Pray Ephesians 3:16.
7. Pray that you would produce good fruits and loving works for others so that others would see just how good and satisfying God is. “…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” (Colossians 1:10). Not only should our soul be in mind as we pray, but also others as we do become more in sync with God. Being in sync with God has in mind the spread of God’s glory and fame. So, through good fruit and loving works that flow from the Word of God (see John 15), may others see these works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).
8. Pray that God’s glory would be exalted and his fame would be spread. “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” (Matthew 6:9). That God would cause his name to be known, feared, loved, cherished, admired, praised, and trusted because of my life. May this fly over all of our prayers like a victorious banner reading, “May your name be kept holy and your glory spread and be exalted as I desire you, understand you, adore you, remain united to you, take joy in you, find strength in you, and produce good fruit.”
Pray all of these prayers in Jesus’ name, since God only gives all of these things to us on the basis of his death and resurrection. He freely gives all things to me because he died for me and removed the wrath of God from me (Rom. 8:32). May we pray as we ought with a mind focused on the things of God. May we pray in a biblical way and in a God-centered way in order for our souls to be more in sync with the glorious and joyful God of the Bible.