Pray for the Inner Man First
I Thessalonians 5:23—Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our lord Jesus Christ.
Much time of many prayer meetings is taken up with wordy requests and rambling moans about the outer man. This would be tolerable if there was at least some effort to pray on behalf of the inner man. Sadly, we humans default to prayers that concentrate on “When can I get out of this rather than what can I get out of this?” I am not heartless in this. To the contrary, the Scripture itself informs us. “The spirit of man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?” (Proverbs 18:14)
Our introductory verse above also gives direction to the truth that sanctification is perfected from the inside out. So let’s pray for the inner man first.
In reality, we want to rescue prayer from outer man needs only. This allows us to participate with God’s work in the transformation process through the trials of faith. When we focus on the spirit of man and claim the promises of God, we become actual partakers of the divine nature which allows all of life to focus with a divine purpose. Therefore, let us pray for strength in the inner man.
Here’s a word from the autobiography of George Muller.
“It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost for more than 14 years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord, but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.
How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon me.”
Our Lead Pastor illustrated this in His model prayer when He simply included, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Again, we don’t need to eliminate outer man needs from our praying; we just need to put it in its proper place.
In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, the Apostle Paul related the value of inner man praying this way:
For which cause we faint not: but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Three of Paul’s prayers stand out as examples:
Ephesians 1:15-23—inner sight
Ephesians 3:14-21—inner strength
Colossians 1:9-14—inner direction
We would be wise to note the transformational value of such praying.
Shepherds, please remember this kind of praying requires instruction, nurturing, and role modeling. Keep building your prayer core and allow them to be a holy leaven growing throughout the congregation.
There is a huge cause here! Strength in the inner man is a universal need and has many audiences who are watching how we respond from the herd (Ephesians 3:1-21).
The heathen (8,9)
The angels (10)
The persons involved (13)
Family of God (14)
For Jesus (17)
For God’s glory (20,21)
The children (21)
Even our spirit of joy witnesses to the sufficiency of Jesus, and that’s contagious.
John 15:11—These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
From Belief to Behavior
Examine some key prayers from Paul. What were some of the requests?
Think about what “daily bread” may include.
Keep physical requests in perspective.
Give value to trials biblically.
Wait expectantly for grace.