Let's Talk About PRAYER Tony E. Denton, 5/07.ASiteForTheLord.com
When combined, the meanings of all the Greek words trans-lated asprayer,prayers,pray,praying, orprayed(especially in regard to our Heavenly Father) provide this basic meaning:to praymeansto express to God the fulfillment of a desire. Let’s discuss thewhen,where,why,who, &howofprayer.
WHEN Should Christians Pray?
Continually (Not Continuously) Continuousdescribes a waterfall; con- tinualdescribes a busy signal. Jesus (in Luke 18:1) & Paul (in1 The. 5:17) both encouraged Christians to pray continually. David (Psa. 55:16-17) & Daniel (Dan. 6:10), both of whom prayed 3 times a day, are good examples for us, teach- ing us that there is such a thing as a God-pleasing habit.
When the Need Is Felt To Praise God (e.g. for Peter & John’s re- lease from the authorities,Acts 4:23-24) When Others Are in Need (e.g. for Peter when he was in prison,Acts 12:5) At Crucial Moments; e.g. Jesus… At His Baptism (Luke 3:21) B4ChoosingHisApostles(Luke6:12) B4 Leaving His Apostles (John 17) B4 Dying for Man (Mat. 26:36-44) At His Death for Man (Luke 23:34).
When Should We NotPray? If we don’t love anyone and don’t want anyone to love us … don’t pray. If we are completely and utterly sinless and can handle the world all by ourselves … don’t pray. If we need no guidance in the world of darkness or in times of trouble and trial … don’t pray. If we have all the wisdom we need to meet each of life’s many changes, and if we have the power to direct our own steps … don’t pray.
If we don’t need any help keeping our families safe, sound, well, fed, clothed, sheltered, and provided for in all the ways God expects folks to provide for their own … don’t pray. If we can rely on our own strength to control our futures and can make the forces of nature work to our advantage and can manufacture the air we breathe and the keep the earth spinning and the sun shining … don’t pray. Otherwise… WE OUGHT TO PRAY!
WHERE Should Christians Pray?
In Private This was Jesus’ directive: When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Fath- er (Mat. 6:6). This was Jesus’ example: Jesus went … to a solitary place and … prayed (Mark 1:35, cf. Luke 5:16). When Jesus had sent the multitudes away, He went up on a mountain by Himself to pray (Mat. 14:23). This was Peter’s example: Peter went up on the housetop to pray (Acts 10:9).
In Public In Corporate Worship: If you bless with the Spirit [only], how will he who occu- pies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?(1Cor.14:16).(We’ll come back to this verse.) In Restaurants: Every creature of God is good [for food] and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiv- ing; for it is sanctified by … prayer (1 Tim. 4:4-5). (Consult Christ’s feeding of the thousands as well.)
Speaking of silent (private) prayer, we should all pray everywhere. But… Speaking of audible (public) prayer, Paul said for men to pray everywhere (1 Tim. 2:8)—in private and public, while of the women he went on to say that they’re not permitted to teach(v. 12)—a word for public discourse; in other words, what’s allowed of the man is not allowed of the woman (cf. 1 Cor. 14:34-35).
WHY Should Christians Pray?
We’re Commanded To:Continue earn-estly in prayer… (Col. 4:2). It Rewards:Your Father will reward you (Mat. 6:6b). ItCanChangeGod’sMind:(Exo.32:9ff). It Can Relieve Anxiety:Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer … let your requests be made known to God (Php. 4:6, cf. 1 Pet. 5:7). It Strengthens:We … pray for you … that … you may be strengthened with all might (Col. 1:9a & 11a).
It’s said that a little boy was once trying very hard to lift a heavy stone, and his father, happening by, noticed his son’s failure and asked him, Are you using all your strength? Yes, I am! he exclaimed impatiently. No, the father replied, you’re not: you haven’t asked me for help. ********************************* Some once wrote, Prayer is always profit-able: At night it’s our covering, and in the morning it’s our armor. Prayer should be the key of the day & the lock of the night.
WHO Should Christians Pray For?
Everyone of the World Every Alien Sinner: My … prayer … is that they may be saved (Rom. 10:1). The Sick of the World: The father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysen- tery. Paul went in to him and prayed (Acts 28:8). After all, the longer the lost live, the more opportunities they’ll have of being saved. Rulers: Prayers … [should] be made … for kings and all who are in authority… (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
Everyone of the Church The Sick: Is anyone among you sick? Let him call the elders of the church [to] pray over him… (James 5:14). The Erring: Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another… (James 5:16). Wisdom, Knowledge, & Understanding to Increase: We … pray for you … that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Col. 1:9).
Faithfulness in Brethren: I pray to God that you do no evil … that you should do what is honorable (2 Cor. 13:7). Laborers in the Field: Pray the Lord … to send out laborers… (Mat. 9:38). Success of Preachers: Pray for us that the Word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified (2 The. 3:1).
Ourselves Physical Needs: Give us this day our daily bread (Mat. 6:11). Spiritual Needs; e.g…. Forgiveness:If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Wisdom:If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him(James 1:5).
Summary of Whom to Pray For Pray for Everyone: Prayers … [should] be made for all men (1 Tim. 2:1). One Exception: There is a sin leading to death.Idonotsaythatyoushould pray about that (1 John 5:16b).
HOW Should Christians Pray?
Humility Physical Humility; e.g…. Bowed Heads:The tax collector … would not so much as raise his eyes to Heaven (Luke 18:13). Bent Knees: Paul knelt down and prayed(Acts 20:36b; cf.21:5b). Mental & Spiritual Humility: Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you…, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:6-7).
Faith: Let him ask in faith, with no doubting….Letnotthatmansuppose that he will receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7). Gratitude & Praise: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name (Psa.100: 4, cf. Dan. 2:19-23 & Rom. 1:21-28).
It’s said that in a sea-coast town where great ships sail the mighty ocean stood a small church building. The preacher was accustomed to printing an annual statis-tical report for the congregation. One year the members noticed an unusual entry: among the records indicating facts &fig-ures about the attendeesand their family members was the notation, Missing at Sea: 9. Since they didn’t know of anyone who had been lost at sea that year, they asked the preacher what he meant.
Well, he said, during the year eleven of you either prayed in church or had the church pray for family members who were going out to sea, and since I only heard two of you thank God for their safe return, I assumed the others drowned at sea.
Acceptance of God’s Will: Your will be done (Mat. 6:10, cf. 26:39). The story is told of a man whose son had a deadly disease. He continually prayed that his son be healed, adding that God’s will be done as he learned. But, alas, his son died, and the father quit the church. When a brother asked him why he quit, he said that it was because God let his son die. When he was then asked if he prayed that God’s will be done, he replied, Yes, I did. Well,hewaswiselyasked,didn’tyoumean what you said?
Unity among Brethren Jesus said,If two of you agree on Earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them(Mat. 18:19). Luke wrote,These all continued in oneaccordinprayer…(Acts1:14). HonorforSpouses:thatyourpray-ers may not be hindered(1Pet.3:7).
SpecifiedSignofStation:Everyman praying … [with]hisheadcovered,dis-honorshishead.Buteverywomanwho prays … with her head uncovered dis-honors her head,forthat’s … thesame as if her head were shaved…. Judge among yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God uncovered? Doesn’t even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it’s a dis-honortohim?But if a woman haslong hair, it’s a glory to her, for her hair is given to her for a covering (1Cor.11: 4-5 & 13-15).
Cautions Prayer isn’t a time for teaching and re- buking others; it’s an address to God, not people. Words from the heart are far more im- portant to God than eloquence. Pray so as to be clear & understandable (1 Cor. 14:16-17). Jesus said, Do not use vain repetitions (Mat. 6:7), implying that a few seconds of silence between sentences to think is far better than slipping in a vain re- petition as a filler.
Let's Conclude Our Thoughts On Prayer
Every Christian should speak to God everyday, any and every-where (if silent in nature), for everyone (except the incorrigible) andatanytime,forsuchiscom-manded by God. This will humble us, change the mindofGod,relieveusof worry, give us strength, and reward us.
We should pray with humility, inbelief,in gratitude,in an attitude of acceptance of God’s will, in unity, with loudness and clarity, withthespecified sign of our stations, and (if we’re married) by givinghonor toourspousesthat ourprayersmaynotbehindered.
We shouldn’t teach and/or re-bukeinprayer,andweshouldn’t pray with vain repetitions or try to be eloquent to receive praise. Keeping all this in mind when we pray helps our prayers to be inharmonywithGod’swill;after all, This is the confidence that we have in Him: if we ask any- thing according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14).
The Differenceby Grace L. Naessens I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day;I had so much to accomplish that I didn’t take time to pray. Problems just tumbled about me and heavier came each task.“Why doesn’t He help me?” I wondered; He said, “You didn’t ask.” I wanted to see joy & beauty, but the day toiled on gray & bleak.I wondered why God didn’t show me; He said, “You didn’t seek.” I tried to come into God’s presence; I used all my keys at the lock.God gently and lovingly chided, “My child, you didn’t knock.” I woke up early this morning and paused before entering the day;I had so much to accomplish that I HAD to take time to pray! ************************************ A Bumper Sticker Rightly Reads:Life Is Fragile; Handle With Prayer.