In the old city of Jerusalem next to the ancient spot where Solomon’s Temple once stood remains a wall. The Western Wall is the closest Jews today get to their “meeting place” (a.k.a. temple) with God.
Writing in the wall
A modern custom when people visit this wall is to write a prayer on paper and place it in the crevice of the huge stones. Doing this is regarded as offering your prayer to God to read and possibly answer.
Princes to popes to presidents have visited the wall to write down their prayers and lodge them in a crack as an offering to the Creator. Now Christians know that we don’t need to travel to a special holy wall to offer prayers. Nor are we mandated to write our prayers down.
The Bible explains that because Christians have Jesus as their great High Priest, He is able to take our prayers and present them before God. We have no wall or curtain between us and God because of what Jesus has done. However, it does raise the question of, if you were at the Western Wall and wanted to write one prayer to stick in the rocks, what would it be?
In his recent book, “Pray Big: Learn to pray like an Apostle“, Alistair Begg encourages us to re-examine our prayers and model them off the Apostle Paul.
Begg examines Paul’s prayers to the church in Ephesus and is struck at the spiritual enormity of his prayers. Paul’s prayers are big, and he encourages us to pray big Kingdom prayers.
He is not saying small prayers are not relevant or unnecessary. However, he wants us to examine the Bible (particularly Paul’s letters) to learn how this should shape our prayers.
When Paul prays, he gets big and he gets specific. He does not pray vague prayers, such as, ‘God, be with Aunt Doris.’ Begg says that God already knows and is with Doris so why pray for Him to ‘be with’ her. Begg points to big specific prayers to shape our wording, such as, ‘Lord, let Aunt Doris be filled with your knowledge and wisdom. Let her be strengthened to continue in her faith. And let her know the joy of her salvation.’
Do you notice the prayers are big: they are for Kingdom and eternal matters related to Doris and her knowledge and experience of Jesus. They are also specific, asking for knowledge, strength and joy for Doris in this spiritual realm.
This doesn’t mean we don’t pray for Doris’ sick dog or her gamy knee. It does, however, mean we need to think big to the larger spiritual dimensions. The key, Begg argues, is to let Scripture shape the way we pray. Read Ephesians and let Paul’s inspired prayers model the way we also should pray.
Try this test: does your church have public prayer? Many churches have removed prayer from the public worship. This reflects the downgrading of prayer in modern Christianity.
Pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “What a man is on his knees before God, that he is and nothing more.” The same could be said of a church. If they pray as a congregation they are showing the value and importance of prayer. They are also modelling what Paul explained whole churches should be doing – praying publicly.
Prayer is important and not to be neglected. However, if your church does pray, or you hear someone praying, ask is the prayer a ‘small prayer’? For example, help for an exam or a job interview. Or does it also include the ‘big’ aspects that the Apostle Paul uses.
For example, praying that the student will do well in the exam but also that the exam will be a tool that helps them grow in their trust of God. This makes it a specific and eternal prayer. Begg’s small book is a paradigm shift back to a Biblical prayer that is powerful because it taps into the Spirit’s eternal vision.
What would you write down as a prayer to put in the Western Wall? Would you travel all the way to Israel, go to the wall and write down a small prayer? Many world leaders have written their requests to God on the wall asking for peace in Israel.
The Pope wrote the Lord’s Prayer on paper and put this writing in the wall.
A former US President wrote, “Protect my family and me. Forgive my sins and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.”
The Apostle Paul models for us a template for praying big Kingdom prayers that are specific to our spiritual growth. As these made it into the Bible as part of inspired Scripture, they should be our primary guide to shape our own prayers.
Republished from Christian Today UK.