Our church intentionally tries to get men involved in worship through prayer. There are times throughout our corporate worship services wherein we go before the Lord in prayer and, on some of these occasions, we call upon men in the congregation to pray. The beauty of it is that some of the men are clearly more comfortable praying aloud than others, some are more well-spoken, some are a bit rough around the edges, some are long-winded, some are short and concise, and yet all are praying to the same God, being heard by the same God, and trusting in the same God.

Of course, this is not merely “trial by fire”. I, personally, will spend time with the men in prayer, either within group settings or one-on-one. Over time, I begin to ask them to pray more and more. Sometimes it starts off in an awkward manner and it’s easy to see how uncomfortable they are. But this is part of the disciple-making process. I want them to learn to pray well so that they are learning to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I want them to learn to lead their families in prayer. I want them to learn to lead the church in prayer. I want them to be comfortable praying to their God.  

Discipling Through Prayer

To attempt to engage in biblical discipleship without prayer is a mistake. When we read Scripture, God is speaking to us. But no relationship is made up of one-sided conversation, is it? Of course not! Prayer, then, is when we speak to God.

Prayer must be normalized for the Christian. It must not be unusual to pray when we are alone in the car, or lying in bed at night, or about to eat supper with our families. Prayer must not be thought unusual when we are spending time with our friends. In fact, there must never be a moment wherein we find prayer to be strange or disconcerting.

We must discipline ourselves to pray more regularly and disciple others to do the same. Ask yourself: are you intentionally praying with your spouse, children, friends, co-workers, or neighbors? When is the last time you stopped what you were doing and prayed for the person in the grocery store? Are you actively trying to teach others to pray, taking time to sit still and speak to the Lord together, making your petitions and pleas with thanksgiving to Him (Philippians 4:5-7)?

One of the great tools that we have been given by the Lord is the written prayers of past saints. These can be incredibly helpful in training us, or others, to pray. Likewise, we can engage with written prayers in our church services, which allows the whole congregation to pray together, in unison. Or we can simply turn to the Psalms. Let’s turn our attention to an example of how prayer may actively disciple us in Scripture by looking at the Psalter.

Psalm 72

Psalm 72 holds the distinction of its final verse stating, “The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.” Though this is not the last psalm of David to appear in the Psalter, it is evidently the last psalm that David penned. At first glance, and even within the psalm’s heading, it appears that David penned this psalm as a prayer to God regarding his son, Solomon, who was soon to begin reigning as king in Jerusalem. From that perspective, David’s prayers were answered, for Solomon’s reign as king was truly one of prosperity. However, even within Solomon’s life, there were various sins committed. Thus, the psalm points to an even deeper, longer, and more urgent need, for a true King who would reign eternally with blessing and dominion forevermore. From this vantage point, the psalm is prophetically pointing to Jesus Christ.

Verses 1-4 speak of a King who is just and renders justice to His people. He and His people enjoy peace, even as He meets the needs of the poor and downtrodden in the land. Then, in verses 5-11, Yahweh is praised for providing this King to the people. This King who is just and brings prosperity and peace is like rain that falls upon mown grass (vs. 6). He causes the righteous to flourish and peace to increase continually during His everlasting reign (vs. 7).

Verses 8-11 are, in my estimation, some of the most encouraging of all. In verse 8, the Psalmist prays that this King would have dominion from sea to sea—that is to say, His dominion would extend over the earth. Then, in verses 9-11, desert tribes are brought before Him, along with kings and queens. All bow before Him—a picture of the spread of the gospel and the salvation of sinners from every tribe, language, and nation (Revelation 7:9).

Then, in verses 12-15, the motif becomes one of salvation and praise. This King is called upon to save the people, and the people are called upon to praise the King. In fact, the call is for the people to both pray for and bless this King, who saves them and meets their needs. Continuing this prayer of blessing for the King then, verses 16 and 17 call for there to be physical prosperity during His reign, as well a salvation to extend over the entire circumference of the earth.

Finally, verses 18 and 19 return to praising Yahweh, especially in recognition that He is the one who both provides this King in the first place, and then ordains that He should bless the earth in such a way. The prayer, ultimately, is for the whole earth to be filled with Yahweh’s glory (vs. 19). If ever there was a psalm to produce hope in evangelism, confidence in the spread of the gospel, and even optimism in eschatology, this is the one. Clearly, the reign of Christ is perfect, sure, and true, and He will reign until all dominions are placed beneath His feet, the elect are gathered into the Kingdom, and God’s glory truly covers the earth.

Just look at the multitude of ways that David teaches us to pray in Psalm 72! He shows us what to pray for and how to pray for it. If you don’t know what to pray, begin with the Psalms! If you know what to pray, keep returning to the Psalms!

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