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Praying for yourself is not selfish; it is necessary. Just as flight attendants instruct adults to put on their oxygen masks before helping children in an emergency, if you do not pray for yourself you are more vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.
God wants us to grow in faith and wisdom and love and in so many other ways. It is only logical that we should be praying for ourselves in these ways. Arm yourself with prayer and you will grow in faith.
The list below just scratches the surface of Biblical principles about which you could pray. However, this list is a great place to start. As you faithfully pray for yourself, you will see spiritual growth. And as you grow, you will begin to notice other areas that need to be the focus of prayer. Simply add them to this list or replace something on the list with those new items.
As you study the Word and read good Christian literature, God will open your spiritual understanding as to what you need to pray for. Perhaps you don’t need to pray about controlling your tongue (#11). Instead, you might need to pray about developing boldness in sharing the Word with others (covered extensively in the 20 Ways to Pray for the Lost list).
As with all the “other “20 Ways” lists, choose how you will use this and be faithful to that – whether one item per day (my choice) or five items once a week. Praying consistently is a key to spiritual growth.
20 Ways to Pray for Yourself: The List
- Pray that you will understand the hope of your calling and the power that is in you. Paul, in this prayer for the Ephesians, asks the Lord for many blessings. He asks for wisdom and knowledge (v. 16), that you would understand the hope of the His calling and the riches of His inheritance (v. 18), and that you would experience the resurrection power of Christ (v. 19). [Ephesians 1:16-19]
- Pray your love will be expansive, but also be in knowledge and discernment. Remember, only love will last – faith and hope will one day be sight, but love is eternal because God is love. [1 Corinthians 13: 13; Philippians 1:9; 1 John 4:8]
- Pray that you will abide in Christ and be fruitful. We can be fruitful in many ways: in leading others to a saving knowledge of Jesus; in discipling others; in sharing and planting seeds that others will water and harvest; and in conduct. Pray that God will make you sensitive to the areas of your life that need your attention to become more fruitful. Then pray for those areas and work on them with the Lord’s help to increase your fruitfulness. [John 15:5; 1 Corinthians 3:5-8]
- Pray that you will know the Lord’s will in all areas of your life. Much of the Lord’s will is spelled out for us in Scripture. Pray that you will be sensitive to those areas where you know what to do and that you will faithfully perform the will of the Lord. But pray also for wisdom in discerning those areas that are not so carefully written out for us. Pray that God will keep you on His path. [Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 1:9; 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5]
- Pray that you will be fully prepared for spiritual battle and able to stand strong in your faith. Make no mistake, we are in a spiritual battle. If you don’t feel the pressures of battle, then you need to pray for an awareness of the battle around you. Remember that the war is already won, but individual battles still need to be fought. Some of the battles you fight will be for your benefit, some will be for the benefit of others. Faith, prayer, and the Word are the weapons that win our battles. [Romans 13:12;2 Corinthians 10:4 Ephesians 6:11-16]
- Pray that you would always bring all your burdens to Christ. We were never made to carry the load of care that most of us struggle under; give it to Jesus. And support your brothers and sisters who are struggling under heavy burdens as well. For just as Christ bears our burdens, so we are to bear each other’s burdens as well. [Matthew 11:28-30; Galatians 6:1-2]
- Pray that you will manifest the fruit of the Spirit in your life. You might even pray for a different aspect of the fruit of the Spirit to be grown in you every day: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. For, as we all know, there is no law against such things. [Galatians 5:22-23]
- Pray for godly wisdom in all areas of your life. Godly wisdom is in short supply in our society. It is sorely needed not only in society, but in the church, in our workplaces, and in our families. Godly wisdom is distinct from worldly wisdom which is self-centered and can even be demonic. As you pray for godly wisdom, read, and re-read, the book of Proverbs; it will teach you much wisdom. [James 1:5; 3:17-18]
- Pray that you would grow in godly character traits. As with the fruit of the Spirit, you could choose one trait to pray for each day – or even for an entire week – and then the next. Diligence, faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love are the characteristics that Peter encourages us to work at developing. As with the fruit of the Spirit, there is ample opportunity here to pray for yourself for months without leaving this list. While you are praying to develop these godly characteristics, work on them as well. [2 Peter 1:5-8]
- Pray that you will not be someone who reads the Word, and then forgets it, but that you will be a person who lives the Word. In Matthew, when Jesus teaches about false prophets, He warns us that by their fruits they shall be known. However, the same is true of faithful believers: by their fruits – that is by their actions and words – they will be known. [Matthew 7:15-20; James 1:22-25]
- Pray that God will enable you to control your tongue. Proverbs tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue; therefore, we should make every effort to control the tongue. [Proverbs 18:21; 21:23; James 3:5-12]
- Pray that you would sow good things in life and that you would reap accordingly. Sowing the Word into your life will reap the character of Jesus. Sowing time in prayer will reap a powerful connection to heaven. Sowing good works will reap blessings from God and others. [Proverbs 11:18; Hosea 10:12; Galatians 6:7-10; James 3:18]
- Pray that you would be as Joshua – meditating on the Word, strong, and courageous. Pray that you would, as a result of living like Joshua, live a prosperous and successful life, as defined by the Word. Pray that fear would not cripple you, but that you would be strong in faith. [Joshua 1:6-9]
- Pray that you would be as Daniel and his three companions – faithful in the face of opposition. Even though we know they were rescued – three from the fiery furnace and one from the lion’s den – they all purposed in their hearts that they would not dishonor God, even if he did not save them in this world. Pray you would have that same steadfast character. [Daniel 3:17-18; 6:10]
- Pray that you would be as Isaiah – truly seeing the holiness of the Lord and your own sinfulness, then responding in confession and worship. Pray that as you see yourself as the Lord does – first sinful, then forgiven – that you would be willing to go wherever, say whatever, and be whoever the Lord asks of you. [Isaiah 6:1-8]
- Pray that you would be as Mary – submitting to the will of the Lord whatever that may be. The will of God may not always be easy; I’m sure it wasn’t easy being an unmarried, pregnant young woman in ancient Israel. But it is always worthwhile. To encourage your heart, read Mary’s hymn of praise. [Luke 1:38, 46-55]
- Pray that you would be as David – pursuing God with wholehearted devotion. The Scriptures tell us that God is looking for people whose heart is completely His – so that He can bless them! [1 Samuel 13:14; 16:7; 2 Chronicles 16:9]
- Pray that you would be as Peter – with faith enough to walk on water! While many scold Peter for taking his eyes off Jesus and sinking, we must always remember, he was the one with enough faith to step out of the boat onto the water in the first place. Stepping out of the boat is the first hard step. Pray you would have the faith to get out of the boat to follow Jesus wherever he calls. [Matthew 14:28-29]
- Pray that you would be like the Good Samaritan – always looking for those whom you can help. James tells us that those who say ‘be warmed and full’ to those who have neither clothes nor food are useless. Meet those needs that you can and be grateful for the opportunity. Such faith is true faith. [Luke 10:25-37: James 1:27; 2:14-17]
- Pray that you would be like Jesus – Who was obedient to the Father, even to the point of death. Jesus is our ultimate example. He did not hold on to the status and privileges He had but laid it all aside for our sakes. Be like Jesus. [Philippians 2:5-8]
As you faithfully pray for yourself and for others, God will do miracles. They might be miracles you can see with your eyes. Or they might be miracles taking place inside your heart or the hearts of others. But even when we don’t get the answers we want from praying, God is still working.
“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17