Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Beatitudinal Prayer List

Prayer is not only a battle for the individual believer in Jesus Christ, but all the more when believers seek to gather in Jesus’ name to pray for the glory of God to be revealed through our lives.

A battle does not mean we give in before even trying. Rather, knowing that the world, the flesh, and the devil, are all conspiring against us to shut down our corporate gatherings to pray in the Spirit,[1] we rise up to seek the mind of Christ so that we can pray through even the most discouraging thoughts and debilitating feelings, presenting all our prayers and requests to our Father with thanksgiving, and experiencing the peace of God that transcends all our understanding.[2]

Because the Beatitudes of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount have become so central to my understanding of how God transforms us through the renewal of our minds,[3] here is a sampling of how to pray through the Beatitudes in order to present ourselves to God. If you have nothing else on your prayer list for your church’s prayer meeting, open up to the Beatitudes and pray through them one at a time, attaching to your heavenly Father over ways he is working these things into your life. Not only will your praying lift up the incense of your prayers before the throne of grace so that you can receive mercy and grace to help you in your time of need,[4] but your praying these things in fellowship with other believers, seeking to pray in the Spirit as instructed,[5] may also encourage your brothers to pray more earnestly for difficult things in their own lives.

Here, then, are some thoughts on praying through the Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

In this we find that the blessing of God is upon those who are poor in spirit, not those who are proud in spirit. Because of this, we pray that God would enable us to humble ourselves before him and see ourselves as we really are in our poverty. Where we have been struggling in relationship with him because we keep trusting our flesh instead of relying on the Spirit, we admit to God our difficulties, our poverty of being able to do his will.

If we pray this way both privately and corporately, we can let our private times with God admit to the most intimate issues of poverty and bankruptcy and helplessness and inability and failure, and then use our corporate times to pray about these things as would be beneficial for all who have gathered, addressing things that it would be good for others to know we struggle with, while trusting that God is hearing and answering our prayers even when we are not able to say in front of others what we are able to say to Father in secret.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

This makes clear that God’s will for us, his desire in blessing us, is that we would mourn things that are wrong with us, not suppress them in self-protective denial, or minimize them so we won’t feel so bad, or defend them because things have happened to us that justify the poverty of our souls. When we allow our hearts to mourn what is wrong with us, even though pouring it out with greater personal intensity in private than we are able to do in public, we present our hearts to God for the experience of his comfort, something that cannot happen when we are trying to hide our broken condition from him and our church. Since Father is waiting to comfort those who mourn, the more willing we are to mourn honestly in his presence, the more we will experience his comfort working in us individually, and uniting our prayer fellowships in the comforts of the Holy Spirit.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

As we seek to join God’s blessing of meekness in prayer, we address that fleshly propensity to handle things in our own strength. We know God is working to get us to admit we cannot fix our poverty of spirit ourselves. We know he wants us to know the liberation of coming before him without any merit of our own to convince him to like us. We meekly accept our helplessness, and pray about each bankrupt area of our lives like little children who have run out of all our energy to try making our lives better. We admit we are helpless in every problem we are facing. Whatever comes up, whatever fears, and sins, and traumas, and hopelessness we are facing, we present it to God like little children who know we can neither fix the mess we have made of our lives by handling things in the flesh, nor make ourselves righteous in any of these areas in which we are failing. We pray about the impoverished issues of our souls in helplessness, admitting to how desperately we need our Father.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

Now we turn from praying about how helpless we are in our impoverished areas, to expressing to God our longings to be righteous like Jesus. As we have admitted to our utter helplessness to make anything right with God, we are now free to come pray for things that could only happen by grace through faith. No matter how often we ourselves have failed to attain righteousness through good works, we look at the riches of God’s kindness and mercy and tell God what we wish we were like in Christ. Anything God has told us in his word we could be like in Christ, we ask for it knowing that one hundred percent of having it would be because God does it by grace, and we rejoice in his work by faith.

There is a tendency for church-folk to become discouraged about asking God for impossible things because our flesh has trained our minds to think only in terms of what we ourselves can do. The Beatitudinal way of praying frees us from any sense of what we can do to consider what God can and will do in our lives by the riches of God’s glory attaching to us in grace, and our impoverished souls attaching to him in faith. The more we can pray for impossibly wonderful things to happen because the riches of God’s grace is supremely glorious over all our helplessness, the more we will feel the satisfaction of God doing things in us that would never happen as long as we are in the way trying to do them ourselves.[6]

And, be assured that, if we will try praying like this in private, pouring our hearts out to God with every longing for the experience of the righteousness of faith, we will also be prepared to pray similar things in our public gatherings of prayer. We then join God in a work that he can do in all those who are gathered as everyone finds greater encouragement to pray for things that only the grace of God could do for us rather than what we would pray while thinking of the limitations of what we could ever do for Father.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."

When we pray to be “the merciful”, leaving it for this point in the Beatitudes, we are protected from praying for us to be the good Christians who are merciful, reducing this to another works-based, self-dependent expression of religious Christianity that sets us up for failure.

Instead, we pray to be the merciful as those who have experienced the mercy of God as already prayed in the first four Beatitudes. When we present our poverty of spirit to God in prayer, and we mourn our impoverished condition to God in prayer, and we confess our utter meekness to God in prayer, admitting that we cannot possible fix all the impoverished things that are wrong with us, and we express to God all the longings of our heart to be like Jesus, and then we feel God satisfying us with the riches of his glorious mercy and grace, we then feel such a joy in the mercy of God that we can become the merciful by transformation, not by good works.

Therefore, when we pray about being merciful, we pray as those who have been immersed in so much mercy and grace from God for impoverished sinners like ourselves, that our prayers for other sinners are merciful prayers. We do not pray according to the law, that God would make people be good, or he would make people do the right thing towards us. We do not pray that God would make people confess their sins to us. We pray for the blessings of God to fall upon the lives of everyone, no matter what they have done to us or anyone else. Our prayers are now mercy-minded because our minds have been saturated by the mercies of God.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

When it comes to praying for the purest experience of purity of heart we are no longer thinking of good works, what we ourselves can do to be good Christians. Instead, we are praying as the impoverished sinners who have mourned our sinful condition, meekly accepted we cannot change how poorly we are doing, hungered and thirsted for the righteousness we cannot fabricate on our own, and experienced the grace of God transforming us as we fellowship with Father by faith. We know that we do not become pure by relying on ourselves since that self-reliance contaminates our purity!

Instead, we pray for pure hearts as children who long to be so single-mindedly devoted to Jesus Christ our Lord, so constantly and purely filled with the Holy Spirit of the living God, so simply attached to Father by grace through faith, that all we want is to be in fellowship with the Triune.

At the same time, as we mature in this purity of heart, we pray for things that are always according to the will of God. We pray as those seeking first the kingdom and righteousness of God in everything. We have seen how impossible it is for us to do this ourselves, and now our hearts are pure in trusting God and his will for everything, so our praying reflects things we would never pray for when we are relying on our flesh, but must pray for now that we only want to be in intimate fellowship with God by grace through faith.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

As we pray from a pure heart that we could be peacemakers like our Savior, we are asking God to give us grace to lead other people to have peace with God.[7] Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and our pure hearts long to be part of this work. We know that sinners all around us are under the condemnation for their sins, soon to face the wrath of God without any recourse to salvation, and so we pray now, praying that God would graciously lead us and our church to lead people to have peace with him through the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Not only do we pray that God would make us peacemakers, but, as peacemakers, we pray for people to find peace with God. Our greatest desire in the lives of those we pray for is that they would come to have genuine peace with God through the gospel. While there may be many temporal needs to pray for, our longing is that everyone would know the Beatitudinal blessings of coming to have peace with our heavenly Father through faith in his Son.

Our peacemaking prayers, seeking that all around us would have peace with God, include both salvation prayers as we seek God to bring sinners to have peace with him, but also sanctification prayers as we consider those among us who struggle with worries and anxieties over problems in their lives. Our peacemaking prayers aim to present all our church’s anxieties to God in prayer, casting all our anxieties upon him because he cares for us, and trusting that the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.[8] To whatever extent we or anyone in our church is lacking this peace, we seek Father’s heart that he would do whatever Beatitudinal things are required to lead us into this experience of peace.

 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

We know from God’s word that peacemakers get into trouble. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, got into trouble for seeking to lead prostitutes, and drunks, and tax collectors, and sinners of all kinds, to have peace with God through his glorious gospel of the kingdom. He also told us that we would get into trouble in the same ways since the world that hated him would hate us as well.

When we then pray as the peacemakers of God, we pray about our own willingness to suffer disgrace for the sake of Christ, and we pray that we would bear these things joyfully. We pray from pure hearts that want nothing to do with minimizing our ministries out of fear of persecution, but what to constantly and sincerely have a front-lines ministry of leading people to have peace with God no matter who, how, or how often, we get into trouble for doing so.

At the same time as we pray for ourselves and our church fellowships that we will be the poor-in-spirit, pure-hearted, peacemakers of the kingdom, we are mindful of the brotherhood of believers that is suffering throughout the world.[9] Our hunger and thirst for righteousness includes seeking first the kingdom and righteousness of God, and so we pray for all believers who are suffering for this righteousness of faith. We pray for those who are imprisoned for their faith, those who are being mistreated for their faith, and seek to share in their sufferings through prayer, just as willing to suffer persecution where we are as they are willing to glorify Christ in their persecution wherever they are.[10]


It is impossible for me to consider everything the Spirit would have you and I pray out of the Beatitudes. The point is not to memorize all the things we ought to pray, but to have the Beatitudes before us in our prayers so we can apply Beatitudinal praying as needed. It may be that someone in a prayer fellowship prays about something in a sense of despondency that you recognize as the fruit of self-reliance, and so you begin praying about our mutual and corporate poverty of spirit in doing anything about this, but then jump immediately into hope-filled prayers of the hunger and thirst for righteousness that you know will be answered because God promises to satisfy the hearts of those who hunger for him.

The point is to find some way of keeping the Beatitudes in your mind as you pray, and as you unite with other believers in what they are praying. This could be by opening your Bibles to Matthew 5:1-12 before prayer-time starts so you can remind yourself of what to pray. At your next prayer meeting you may want to pray through each of the Beatitudes, presenting only one of them to God in your prayers for that “turn”, and then going on to the next one for your next turn.

It may not work to pray through each one in your particular prayer meeting, so you may continue on praying through the Beatitudes the next time your church gets together for prayer. The more you pray these things in private, the more you are ready for the Spirit to move you in praying these things in public.

As a help, if you would like to print out the Beatitudes on a card to keep in your Bible as a prayer-primer, you can print out a 4x6 inch version here,[11] or a 3x5 inch version here.[12] Once you have the Beatitudes memorized, at least in thought even if not in exact word, you will find your mind regularly bringing one or all of the Beatitudes into your praying for yourself and others.

And, you will find your heavenly Father blessing you richly as you do! He promised!

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] My understanding of praying in the Spirit (Jude 1:20-21) is that it continues Paul’s extensive lessons on the difference between doing things in the flesh (sark) and doing things in the Spirit. Instead of praying in the flesh, focusing on selfish things independent of God, we pray in the Spirit, seeking the mind of Christ about everything, with the aim of submitting and surrendering to the whole will of God as we pray.
[2] Philippians 4:4-7
[3] The Beatitudes are found in Matthew 5:1-12. Romans 12:1-2 directs us in how to join God in his transforming work.
[4] Hebrews 4:14-16 teaches us to come before our merciful and sympathetic High Priest, Jesus Christ, in order to experience his grace and mercy working in our lives. The imagery of our prayers rising before God as incense is revealed in Psalm 141:3; Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4.
[5] Romans 8:26; 15:30; Ephesians 6:18 (context: Ephesians 6:10-20); Jude 1:20-21
[6] In Paul’s prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21, he specifically prayed for things that were according to the riches of God’s glory (vs 16), not for things that were according to the limitations of his flesh.
[7] Romans 5:1 shows what we have in Christ, and we want others to have the same peace with God.
[8] Referring again to Philippians 4:4-7
[9] I Peter 5:9 (context: I Peter 5:6-11).
[10] Hebrews 13:1-3 refers to hospitality, visiting prisoners, and fellowship with mistreated brothers as things that often accompany seasons of persecution. Peacemakers know that persecution follows the work of Christ, and so we fellowship with one another in these hard times even though it may exacerbate our difficulties.

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