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How to Pray in Light of the Resurrection

After the early Christians encountered the risen Christ, they prayed boldly and powerfully. So can we.

Christ is risen
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Imagine what it was like for Lazarus, friend of Jesus, to live again after he’d been dead, buried and then resurrected by the Lord. Imagine what it was like for Lazarus to pray after that! Do you think there was anything he wouldn’t pray about? Anything he wouldn’t ask? Any doubt in his mind?

That must have been the case for every first-century follower of Jesus after they encountered the risen Christ. After all, if Jesus could not only raise Lazarus from the grave but also rise Himself, what could He not do, in answer to prayer? 

Isn’t that also the case for us? If we believe in and affirm the resurrection of Jesus, we should be able to pray in its light. Here are six ways:

1) Pray boldly, like the early church.
The first-century Jerusalem church responded to danger and persecution by praying, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness. Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30 NIV). 

After they prayed, the Bible says, “the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31 NIV).

2)  Pray big, like Peter.
When a woman named Tabitha died in Joppa, her fellow Jesus-followers sent for Peter, who was staying nearby. Peter responded and went to the room where Tabitha’s body lay, surrounded by mourners. 

The Bible says, “Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive” (Acts 9:40-41 NIV). 

3)  Pray powerfully, like Paul.
Writing to the churches in and around Ephesus, Paul prayed, “Ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. 

“That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:15–23 NIV).

4)  Pray broadly, like James.
Living and praying in light of the resurrection, James apparently couldn’t envision a circumstance that couldn’t be taken to God in prayer. He wrote, in the Bible book that bears his name, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:13-16 NIV).

5)  Pray confidently, like John.
John, the “beloved disciple,” wrote in a letter to the church, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him” (3 John 2 NIV).

6)  Pray victoriously, like Jude.
Jude ended the Bible book that bears his name with a prayer of praise: “To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 24-25 NIV).

All of these early Christians prayed as they did because they knew what we say we know: “The Lord is risen.” May our prayers, like theirs, remind us and testify to a needy world: “He is risen indeed!”

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