9.      Prayer

Doctrinal Statement: Prayer is the act of communicating with God and is a necessary part of our walk with Him.

 

Definitions

*   Prayer: The act of making a reverent petition to God. From American Heritage Dictionary.

*   Synonyms for prayer: Entreaty, request, appeal, plea, desire, hope, and wish.

*   Some meanings suggested by Strong’s Concordance: Supplication, worship, intercession, a hymn, ponder, converse, or to wish.

*   Meditation: Contemplation or thought about someone or something. Meditation is more passive than prayer.

 

Lessons from the “Lord’s Prayer”

(Mat 6:5-8 NIV)  "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. {6} But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. {7} And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. {8} Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

*   (Mat 6:9-13 RSV)  Pray then like this: Like this, not a command to actually pray this prayer.

*   Our Father who art in heaven, First we define to whom we are talking.

*   Hallowed be thy name. We pay homage to God by recognizing His holiness.

*   {10} Thy kingdom come. We recognize His intent of establishing His kingdom with us as inheritors.

*   Thy will be done, We show submission to His will and purposes.

*   On earth as it is in heaven. We recognize God is supreme everywhere and invite Him into our lives.

*   {11} Give us this day our daily bread; We recognize our reliance on God.

*   {12} And forgive us our debts, We recognize our need for forgiveness

*   As we also have forgiven our debtors; We declare we are doing to others what we have asked him to do for us.

*   {13} And lead us not into temptation, We ask God to guide our lives such that we are unlikely to encounter situations that might cause us to sin.

*   But deliver us from evil. We recognize we will encounter evil and that evil can overcome us unless we have God to turn to.

Some late manuscripts <one, | for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.>

 

Some examples of Prayer in the Bible

*   (Mat 14:19 NIV)  And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.

*   (Mat 7:7-8 NIV)  "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. {8} For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

*   (Mat 21:21-22 NIV)  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. {22} If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

*   (James 1:5-8 NIV)  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. {6} But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. {7} That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; {8} he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

*   (Mark 9:28-29 NIV)  After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" {29} He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."

*   (Mark 11:24-25 NIV)  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. {25} And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

*   (Luke 18:1-7 NIV)  Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. {2} He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. {3} And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' {4} "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, {5} yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'" {6} And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. {7} And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?

*   (Rom 8:26 NIV)  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

*   (1 Cor 14:15 NIV)  So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.

*   (Eph 6:18-20 NIV)  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. {19} Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, {20} for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

*   (Phil 4:6-7 NIV)  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. {7} And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

*   (Col 4:2-4 NIV)  Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. {3} And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. {4} Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

*   (1 Th 5:15-18 NIV)  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. {16} Be joyful always; {17} pray continually; {18} give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

*   (1 Tim 2:8 NIV)  I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

*   (Heb 4:14-16 NIV)  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. {15} For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. {16} Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

*   (James 5:16-18 NIV)  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. {17} Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. {18} Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

*   (John 14:12-14 NIV)  I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. {13} And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. {14} You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

*   (1 Tim 2:5 NIV)  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

*   (Eph 5:19-20 NIV)  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, {20} always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

*   (Phil 2:9-11 NIV)  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, {10} that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, {11} and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

*   (Col 3:17 NIV)  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

*   (Acts 4:12 NIV)  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

 
Some elements of effective prayer

*   Prayer is a private matter between you and God. Even during public or group prayer!

*   Recognition of God as our Father!

*   We need to acknowledge God and His holiness early in each prayer.

*   We need to profess our submission to His will.

*   We need to acknowledge our need for and reliance on God.

*   We need to be willing to grant to others what we ask God to grant to us.

*   It is good and proper to give thanks for our food before meals.

*   We are expected to ask the Lord for His help and we should expect He will in fact help.

*   Faith without doubt is essential when petitioning God.

*   Prayer is a tool against evil.

*   When we ask God for something we should think of it as already granted.

*   We need to make peace with our self and with others before we approach God.

*   Be persistent in prayer and do not give up praying simply because you haven’t received your request.

*   We don’t know what we should pray for but the Spirit of God will guide us.

*   Prayer involves both heart and mind. Neither is exclusive of the other.

*   We should pray for others, particularly other followers of Christ.

*   Prayer and thanksgiving can drive out worry and anxiety while also protecting your heart and mind.

*   We should pray for our leaders and particularly those that declare and spread the Gospel.

*   Prayer and thanksgiving should be ceaseless, constant, continual, endless, incessant, persistent, relentless, unceasing, unending, unfailing, & uninterrupted.

*   The lifting of hands to God in praise and prayer is both appropriate and expected.

*   We may approach the throne of God boldly and with confidence because Jesus is our High Priest and Mediator.

*   The better we follow God the more effective our prayers become.

*   Prayer should be offered in the name of Jesus.

 

Prayer and Fasting

(Acts 13:3 NIV)  So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

*   Fasting is frequently identified as augmenting prayer.

*   Fasting is a way of denying self and focusing on God.

*   Fasting is often times a natural reaction to sickness and works to purify the body. Likewise fasting can also work to help purify the spirit.

 

Prayer and Meditation

(Josh 1:8 NIV)  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

*   Meditation can augment prayer but is more a matter of considering God, His creation, and our relationship to Him. It is a time when we are silent and contemplative. It is a time when God through His Spirit can enlighten us.

 

Some Conclusions

*   Prayer is a gift and a privilege much as being given an audience with the president or other notable person.

*   Although God has granted us much freedom in approaching Him and communicating with Him we should always keep in mind whose presence we are in.

*   God is on our side and wants the best for us but also requires we give Him our best.

*   Continual prayer is a sign of true love. We can draw an analogy with the way a young lover desires to be continually with the one he loves.

*   Prayer might also be thought of as similar to the relationship between a child and a loved and respected parent in as much as we would go to the parent constantly for wisdom and guidance as well as help. God is that parent!

 

Homework

*   Define prayer in your own words.

*   List a few of your own thoughts about prayer.

*   List a few points that I could have/should have made but didn’t.

 

A Few Closing Thoughts

Prayer is my opportunity to have a one on one conversation with the one person in the world that has the correct answer to any question I might think of. It is my opportunity to have a heart to heart conversation with the one person in the world that truly understands my problems, my needs, and me. It is my opportunity to have my problems solved in a meaningful way. It is my opportunity to receive understanding about the most important questions in life. Education is good but divine education is the best!

 

It has been said, “A word to the wise is sufficient.” But, “A word from the wise is better.” Prayer allows us to receive a word from the Wise.