How to Pray for Deliverance

Evaluate your prayer life with me for a moment. I know that can be a painful task because many Christians are frustrated with their lack of devotion to God in prayer, but I think this will prove valuable. So, ask yourself what kind of prayers you pray the most. I know you don’t record every plea you utter to God, but you should be able to answer this question generally. I suspect that at the top of the list, or at least, near the top, are those prayers we pray for deliverance from some painful experience. I’m referring to those prayers we desperately bring to God when life hurts and we want it to stop. It makes sense that those are some of the most frequent prayers we pray, because no one enjoys pressure and difficulty. But how do you pray those prayers in a way that doesn’t prioritize…well…you?

It is a sad reality that we often forget our prayers are ultimately about the One to whom we are praying. How do we keep a God-centered perspective when we are begging God to bring us relief? We start with the understanding that the relief we are asking for is finally for the purpose of God’s glory. In considering our prayers of deliverance, we must not allow the benefit we receive to be the goal of those prayers. David demonstrates this for us in Psalm 142, when he prays, “Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!” (v.7). As he sits in a cave hiding from Saul, David takes his trouble to God, praying that he will be rescued from his persecutors and the agony in his soul. But as Matthew Henry conveys, David’s reason for this prayer is “not that I may enjoy myself and my friends and live at ease.”¹ Rather, his desire is that God answer his prayer so that there will be an occasion for him to give thanks to God. An answer to prayer is an expression of God’s grace that can easily be recognized because it is directly connected to a request you have made of God. When you see God’s answer to your prayer, it is an opportunity, not to obsess over the gift, but to praise the Giver. Your prayers for deliverance, then, are occasions for God to display His awesome power in your life so that you will have more reason to worship Him.

In seeing your prayers of deliverance in this light, however, you may have to fight the temptation to treat your thanksgiving as a way to barter or negotiate with God. Let’s be clear, David is not saying to the Lord, “If you rescue me, in return I will give you something I know you want.” There is never any bartering with God. The Apostle Paul captures the reason for this by asking, “Who has given a gift to [God] that he might be repaid?” (Romans 11:35). No one can say that God owes him anything, because everything is “from him and through him and to him” (v. 36). When God answers our prayers of deliverance, He is the One who provides the reason and the ability for us to give Him thanks.

But what if God does not answer your prayer for rescue? Sinfully, you may take this as an opportunity to express different kinds of selfishness: bitterness or despair. To protect your heart from this response, you will need to pray in light of God’s authority and wisdom. He has the ultimate authority to answer your prayers according to what He deems right and best, and because He is infinitely wise, you can trust that He knows what is right and best. Therefore, when you pray for deliverance ask that, no matter what His answer, you will “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4), and that, like Paul, you will trust that His “grace is sufficient for you” in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

At times, God chooses our deliverance, and at other times, He chooses to walk with us while not delivering us. But regardless of His plan, we must settle it in ourselves to center our prayers on the One to whom we are praying.

¹ Matthew Henry’s Commentary - Bible Gateway, https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/matthew-henry/Ps.142.4-Ps.142.7.

Note: This article originally appeared on thecbcd.org. We encourage you to visit the Center for Biblical Discipleship and Counseling where you can find helpful, biblical resources by a number of trusted pastors and authors.

Brent Osterberg