King David prayed for protection from his enemies. Jesus prayed for all believers. The early church prayed for courage. The most powerful prayers of Scripture have one thing in common: they reflect the promises of God in his Word. How does praying biblical prayers of confession, thanksgiving, praise, intercession, petition, and communion equip you to effectively pray for peace in times of change, courage to overcome your fears, and healing for yourself and others?
Bible Gateway interviewed O.S. Hawkins (@OSHawkins) about his book, The Prayer Code: 40 Scripture Prayers Every Believer Should Pray (Thomas Nelson, 2021).
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What is prayer and why is it important?
O.S. Hawkins: Prayer, simply defined, is talking to God. Like all communication, it involves two-way conversation, listening and speaking. We speak prayers, sometimes very short, like Peter’s “Lord, save me!” as he was drowning in the Sea of Galilee, sometimes more elaborate as we pour our burdens out to the Lord. Of course, the Lord speaks to us primarily through His word.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Nehemiah Code: An Interview with O. S. Hawkins]
How many prayers are in the Bible? How did you select the 40 that comprise this book?
O.S. Hawkins: There are more than 650 recorded prayers in Scripture: prayers of penitence, praise, petition, protection, and provision. Selecting only 40 from the pages of Scripture was a great challenge. These are prayers that cover the gamut of human emotions and challenges. And much like hors d’oeuvres, whet our appetite for more. My hope is that after studying these 40 prayers in Scripture, readers will go on to read other great prayers found throughout the Bible.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Daniel Code: An Interview with O. S. Hawkins]
You write, “The foundation of true prayer is built on an unselfish recognition.” What do you mean?
O.S. Hawkins: We have to realize, unselfishly, that we’re not the center of all knowledge and experience. Prayer is the battlefield of the Christian life, the place where the struggles of life are won. Like all soldiers, we have to follow the battle plan of our general, the Lord Jesus himself.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Apostles’ Code: The Holy Spirit in You]
How should we see the Lord’s Prayer as a model for all our prayers?
O.S. Hawkins: It’s remarkable that Scripture only records one thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them. They didn’t ask how to heal the sick or to multiply loaves and fishes—they didn’t even ask him to teach them how to turn water into wine! They simply asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” That should make our ears perk up. Jesus has performed great miracles, taught with authority; the disciples apparently recognized that prayer—communion with the Father—was key to Jesus’ ministry.
With that simple request, he teaches them the model prayer. In it, we see God’s glory is the object of the prayer and our good is the outcome of the prayer. We praise God’s name, seek his kingdom, ask for him to meet our needs, to forgive our sins and deliver us from evil. And we close with praise and expectancy about the kingdom to come.
Do we have to recite the prayer verbatim each time we pray? Not necessarily, but I believe it’s an important prayer we should all know and pray ourselves regularly.
What should we expect from our prayers?
O.S. Hawkins: First, God is listening to our prayers. Every one of them. Sometimes it can feel as though our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, but he hears them and he answers them—every single one of them. Sometimes his answer is direct; we pray and the answer comes. Sometimes they’re delayed. We pray, but in God’s providence, he waits to answer them. Sometimes, they’re different. God answers, but in a way that’s different than we anticipated. While not always evident, those different answers are always better. Finally, there are times he denies our request. I’m grateful God has not answered all my prayers with a yes because there are times I’ve asked him for something that in his providence was not best for me.
How is the Holy Spirit our prayer partner?
O.S. Hawkins: Romans 8:26–27 tells us the Spirit helps in our weakness. The Spirit himself makes intercession when we don’t have the strength or the words. What an incredible fact! The Spirit makes intercession when we can’t. The Spirit is our prayer partner. And he’s a great prayer partner because in verse 28 Paul tells us the Spirit “makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” The longer I walk this road as a follower of Christ, the more I see the need to pray according to God’s will.
What are we to learn from King David’s prayer of Psalm 51?
O.S. Hawkins: We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all need forgiveness. While it’s true no one reading this interview will go to the lengths that David did to cover up his sin, it’s true all of us cover our sin from time to time. David, though, once confronted, modeled the steps we should take in prayer to repent:
- assume personal responsibility
- seek reconciliation
- embrace restoration.
In fact, recognizing his forgiveness, he pledged to teach transgressors God’s ways. We should learn that forgiveness is possible, and that God is faithful and just to forgive us if only we ask.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Gospel is the Message of the Second Chance]
What does it mean when the Bible says to pray without ceasing?
O.S. Hawkins: Paul writes in Ephesians 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Prayer is truly the battlefield of the Christian life. Think about the parallel—a solider on the battlefield has to be ready for battle at any moment. He drills, he prepares, he keeps his weapon ready to go. For us, we have to be ready for the enemy’s slings and arrows at all times. When we pray without ceasing, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re focused with our hands folded, our heads bowed and eyes closed. We might be driving down the highway, or sitting in a meeting, or sitting in a doctor’s office. It’s being in constant communion with God. There’s value in getting alone with God in the prayer closet, but I can pray as I meet with our team, or when I’m sitting amongst friends. Being in constant communion with the creator of the universe is a tremendous blessing we should embrace.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Jesus Died so We Might Be Saved]
What is the last prayer of the Bible and why should we embrace it?
O.S. Hawkins: At the end of his life, John, the disciple Jesus loved, is in exile on Patmos. He receives the vision we know as Revelation and faithfully records the wondrous imagery he has seen to the best of his ability. Almost at the very end of the book, our Lord and Savior—John’s Lord and Savior—after 66 books, 1,189 chapters, 31,103 verses, and almost one million written words, closes this book of all books by promising to come back to this planet again saying, “Surely I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:20). John had to be excited. He’s old, frail, and on an island with criminals and the insane. He’s tired. He’s seen the visions of what is to come. And as he pens Jesus’ words, John almost cries out “Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” (Rev. 22:20). It’s the very last prayer in Scripture.
Jesus is coming again to bring a true and lasting peace among us. This should give us peace for the moment, confidence for the future, and an urgency to tell others the good news!
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, God Proved His Love Toward Us]
What do you consider a personally favorite prayer of the Bible?
O.S. Hawkins: Personally, my favorite prayer in the Bible is the longest one recorded. This is commonly referred to as our Lord’s high intercession prayer recorded in John 17 when, on the eve of the crucifixion, he pours his heart out to the Father praying for himself, his disciples, and finally for you and me, along with all those in the coming generations who would put their faith and trust in him. And the good news is he’s still praying for us this very moment. The Bible says, “He ever lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:25). So if you ever wonder what Jesus is doing right now…he is praying for you!
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
O.S. Hawkins: The day I made my public profession of Christ as Lord and Savior, a man in the church came to me and handed me a piece of paper and said you’re going to need to memorize this. The paper read, “1 Cor. 10:13.” The next day, I drove to downtown Fort Worth to the Baptist Bookstore and purchased my first Bible. I found the passage and made it the first verse I ever memorized. Paul reminds us, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Because I had hidden this verse in my heart, only God has recorded how many times across the years—when I found myself faced with some sort of temptation—it surfaced in my memory and kept me from many a potential mistake. It’s a powerful passage, memorized at the very start of my Christian journey, that speaks to me all these years later.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Ash Wednesday—Amazing Grace]
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
O.S. Hawkins: Bible Gateway resources can really help people growing in their faith, and busy Bible study teachers and pastors who are preparing lessons, sermons, or looking for devotional resources. I know Bible study leaders who appreciate the commentary resources and the various translations that can help shed light on a particular passage.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Moved by the Holy Spirit]
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
O.S. Hawkins: These Code books have blessed so many. Weekly, I hear from pastors, businesspeople, Sunday school teachers and many others about how the books have blessed them as they’ve read and meditated on them. One of the direct recipients of the blessings, though, are the 2,500 retired pastors and, in most cases their widows, who receive financial assistance through Mission:Dignity. One hundred percent of author’s royalties and proceeds from The Prayer Code, and in fact all of our Code books, go to this wonderful ministry we lead through GuideStone. One of the things I love about Mission:Dignity, beyond the important work it does, is that every dime of every gift goes to help those we serve. An endowment established many years ago provides for the administrative needs of the ministry. I’d encourage anyone who cares about pastors who served in rural or urban locations, away from the limelight, out in the highways and hedges, to visit MissionDignity.org to learn more and learn how they can participate.
The Prayer Code is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: O.S. Hawkins has served pastorates, including the First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, for more than 25 years. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, he has three earned degrees (BBA, MDiv, and DMin) as well as several honorary degrees. He is the president of GuideStone Financial Resources, with assets under management of 16 billion dollars, serving 250,000 pastors, church staff members, missionaries, doctors, university professors, and other workers in various Christian organizations with their investment, retirement, and benefit service needs. He is the bestselling author of more than 40 books, including The Joshua Code and The Jesus Code, which have sold over 1.5 million copies, and speaks regularly to business groups and churches across America. All of the author’s royalties and proceeds from the entire Code series go to support Mission:Dignity. Learn more about Mission:Dignity by visiting MissionDignity.org.
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