Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. — Philippians 4:6
You have prayed prayers of petition (or supplication) many, many times, even if you didn’t know that they were called prayers of petition. They are perhaps the most natural response to God in prayer… “God I need You! God I need…” When we come to God in prayer and ask Him for something or to do something, we are praying prayers of petition.
Now this might seem simple enough but there are a some amazing things going on here.
The first and perhaps most amazing is that, God invites us to come to Him and ask!
Throughout scripture this humbling invitation is repeated to us. God wants His children to petition Him in prayer. For example, in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells the Parable of the Persistent Widow who persistently petitioned a judge for justice. Luke says that Jesus told his disciples that parable “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1)
We are welcomed by God to come to Him to ask!
But isn’t that selfish? Doesn’t that turn God into a sort of cosmic genie? Potentially. If we approach God in prayer from the position of “I want MY will to be done, so God do this for me” then our approach is backwards and missing the point!
On the other hand, if we remember how Jesus taught us to pray, these prayers of petition are amazing. You see, Jesus taught us to petition God with this prayer as the frame: “God Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” In other words, we frame our prayers in submission God’s sovereignty and Lordship over our lives. Rather than come to God with our requests and specific outcomes, Jesus taught us to come to God with our requests and trust God with His outcomes! When you present your requests to God, do you come to Him with an understanding and trust in His wisdom and perfect will?
Prayers of petition are so much more than a “wish-list” for God, they are an opportunity to surrender our ways and hopes to God’s perfect ways. As Timothy Keller says, there is a “necessary balance of two purposes of petitionary prayer- to put the world right (“thy kingdom come”) and to align our hearts with God (“thy will be done”).”1
Can you come to God in prayer, in full confidence knowing that He welcomes you to ask Him for what is on your heart?
Can you come to God in prayer, in full trust in His goodness and perfect will?
What needs can you bring God today? For yourself, your family, your campus, workplace, country, world. We are loved by a big God, Who welcomes us to ASK!
1 “Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God,” Timothy Keller, 2014