Call upon God, adore, confess,
Petition, plead, and then declare
You are the Lord's; give thanks and bless,
And let the Amen confirm the prayer. ~Isaac Watts
The fourth item of prayer in this poem by Watts is “petition.” We often think of a petition as a something that someone wants to happen in society and goes about getting people’s signatures in preparation for getting it done. Watts, however, means something different. We petition the Lord in several ways for ourselves, other believers, and all men (cf. Eph 6:18; 2 Tim 2:1–2).
First, we ask God to deliver us from evil. Jesus gave an example of such a prayer in teaching His disciples how to pray: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt 6:13). We pray that God would deliver us from the evil in which we ourselves participate, and we pray that God would deliver us from the forces of evil that could harm us.
Second, we ask God to grant his goodness to us. The apostle John gives us an example of praying for God’s goodness to us in wealth, health, and soul. He wrote to his friend Gaius and said, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 2). That it would “go well with you” is a prayer for physical prosperity. “Good health” is something to pray for others as well. “As it goes well with your soul” is certainly a most important matter of prayer.
Third, we should pray for mercy upon our country. We should specifically pray that peace would reign so that the gospel may be freely preached (1 Tim 2:1–2).
Fourth, we should pray that God would carry out vengeance against His enemies. God’s enemies are those who intentionally oppose the gospel, and we should pray that they would be removed from their devices so that the gospel may be at work (Gal 1:8–9).
Online Resources for Prayer
Method for Prayer by Matthew Henry
A Guide to Prayer by Isaac Watts
Helpful Books on Prayer
A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by D. A. Carson – This book teaches us to pray like Paul.
The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett – This book is a collection of Puritan prayers that are excellent examples for how to pray.
Pastor regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our staff page.