I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Prayer is worship that includes all the attitudes of the human spirit in its approach to God. The Christian worships God when he adores, confesses, praises and supplicates (humbly presents requests) in prayer. Prayer in the Bible is not a “natural response.”1 Consequently, the Lord does not hear every prayer.2 The biblical doctrine of prayer emphasizes the character of God and the necessity of a man being in covenant relation with Him, entering fully into all the privileges and obligations of that relationship. Prayer is the highest activity of which the human spirit is capable.
- Prayer is designed to allow the believer to have profound intimacy with God. It is an aspect of worship where the believer recognizes who God is and agrees with His will.
- We are commanded to pray. Specifically, we are commanded to pray continually, to pray for all believers, to not be anxious and instead present our requests to God with thanksgiving, etc. Jesus assumes that we pray, as He instructed us on how to pray.
- We have seen followers of God modeling prayer since the beginning of creation, where the patriarchs call upon the name of the Lord.
- Prayer accomplishes God’s will on earth.
- Prayer enables us to live a life dependant on the God. Through prayer we model our dependence on God, presenting our requests to Him and allowing us to not be anxious.
- Prayer allows us to seek God’s will and assistance in our lives and the lives of others.
What Happens When We Pray?
Paul writes to the Romans what takes place when we pray.
- Romans 8:26-27
As fallen humans, we are so weak that we do not even know what we should pray for. We know that we have this surge of feelings, thoughts, anxieties and other emotions swirling around, yet we cannot perfectly put into words what we ought to be asking. But the Holy Spirit can articulate the groans of our hearts! Though we are ignorant of what to pray for and how to voice those requests, the Spirit graciously voices our requests to the Father for us. In this request, the Holy Spirit brings to the Father a prayer that is strong and in accordance with God’s will (they know the mind of each other, as there is one God and they are both fully God). Therefore whenever you pray, your prayers will be fixed to be according to God’s will.12 Additionally, the Holy Spirit came to glorify Christ, so whenever He does anything, He has to make sure that the glorification of Christ is the essence of it. The Father will always grant a request from the Spirit (because it is in accordance with His will), though He does not always answer all our requests in the affirmative (because not all of our requests are in accordance with His will).
How Do We Pray?
- With Confidence. Prayer is possible because of our great High Priest who is both human and divine, because He is now in the heavenly place and because of what He is now doing. 13
- Trusting God. As we pray, we remember that God is God, and is free to execute His will in whatever way He chooses (1 John 5:14-15).
- With the Spirit’s Help. Just as the Spirit enables us to do anything in life, the Spirit enables us as we pray. To not pursue a dynamic prayer life is to not give the Holy Spirit anything to help. By not allowing the Holy Spirit to help, one will never live beyond his or her own ability and weakness, which will result in a failed Christian life, Communication with God is the most important issue in life.
- By Following Jesus’ Model. He urges us to pray knowing that God gives good gifts;14 to pray with a forgiving and humble spirit;15 to pray with persistence;16 to pray with simplicity;17 to pray with urgency and intensity;18 and to pray in humility, not showing off in front of others.19 As to method in prayer, the Lord had two important things to teach. First, prayer is now to be offered to the Father, as Jesus modeled by praying to the Father during his time on earth.20 As the Father insisted on faith,21 tested sincerity,22 uncovered ignorance23 and sinful presumption24 in those who petitioned to Him, so He does today in the experience of those who pray to Him. Secondly, prayer is now be offered in the name of Christ,25 through whom we have access to the Father. To pray in the name of Christ is to pray as Christ Himself prayed.
- From the Heart. People may utter many poetic words in prayer, but according to the Bible, the Lord never hears your oration.26 He does not hear your words, but your heart. The believer should never think that their words might not be “good enough.”
- In All Circumstances. As to the Lord’s practice of prayer, it is well known that He prayed in secret,27 in times of spiritual conflict,28 and on the cross.29 In His prayers, Jesus offered thanksgiving,30 sought guidance,31 interceded,32 and communed with the Father.33
The Lord’s Prayer | Luke 11:1-4
- Hallowed Be Your Name. “Hallowed” communicates: let your name be regarded as holy. It is not so much a petition as an act of worship. The speaker, in his own words, magnifies and praises the holiness of God. This is of first importance (sequentially and spiritually). We are first and foremost to give God glory (this is the purpose of our existence), and we do that in prayer by recognizing and acknowledging His holiness and majesty. It’s not “buttering Him up” to get what we want, but rather an admission of reality and a subjection to His grandeur. It also signifies an attitude of reverence. We come to Him not flippantly or haphazardly, but with regard to His holiness.
- Your Kingdom Come. Ask that God’s values, plans, and ideals come to pass, and that they be honored and applied on earth. It is a genuine concern for God’s agenda and gives him preeminence as the king of the universe.
- Give Us Each Day Our Daily Bread. We recognize and acknowledge our dependence on God for daily physical and spiritual provision.
- Forgive Us Our Sins, For We Also Forgive Everyone Who Sins Against Us. Here there is confession, keeping the lines of communication open between God and you. Forgiving others is not a prerequisite for salvation, however, it is clear in Scripture that a person who claims to have received God’s forgiveness must have this desire to forgive others spring forth from their lives. If not, we must question has that person really received God’s forgiveness.34 We can experience forgiveness daily if we engage in frequent and specific confession and repentance.
- Lead Us Not Into Temptation. We ask protection from tempting situations.
Sample Prayer Structure
There are four major areas we should address when we pray to the Lord:
- Preeminence. God, you are majestic and powerful. I yield my life to you.
- Provision. Lord, give me your guidance in decision-making.
- Pardon. Forgive me for my sins (be specific).
- Protection. Keep me from giving in to the temptations of the world.
The heart of prayer is expressed by B. F. Westcott: “True prayer—the prayer that must be answered—is the personal recognition and acceptance of the divine will. It follows that the hearing of prayer which teaches obedience is not so much the granting of a specific petition, which is assumed by the petitioner to be the way to the end desired, but the assurance that what is granted does most effectively lead to the end. Thus we are taught that Christ learned that every detail of His life and passion contributed to the accomplishment of the work, which He came to fulfill, and so He was most perfectly ‘heard’. In this sense He was ‘heard for his godly fear.’”35
- Do you believe that prayer is essential to your walk with the Lord?
- How often do you pray?
- How do you pray?
1 John 5:14-15
How does this study reinforce your belief in the gospel?
- John 4:24
- Isaiah 1:15, 29:13
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Ephesians 6:18
- Philippians 4:6
- Matthew 6:5
- Genesis 4:26, 12:8, 21:33
- Romans 8:26-28; 1 John 5:14-15
- Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7
- Ephesians 3:16-17, 6:18-20; Philippians 1:4; Colossians 1:3, 4:3-4; 1 John 5:16
- Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary: An exposition of the scriptures (Ro 8:26–27). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Romans 8:28
- Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:25
- Matthew 7:7-12
- Matthew 6:12-15
- Luke 11
- Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:47
- Mark 13:33, 14:38; Matthew 26:41
- Matthew 6:5-15
- Matthew 8:2, 9:18
- Mark 9:23
- Matthew 9:27-31
- Matthew 20:20-22
- Matthew 14:27-31
- John 14:13, 15:16, 16:23
- Romans 8:26-28
- Luke 5:15, 6:12
- John 12:20-28; Luke 22:39-46
- Matthew 27:46, Luke 23:46
- Luke 10:21; John 6:11; Matthew 26:27
- Luke 6:12-16
- John 17:6-19, 20-26; Luke 22:31-34; Mark 10:16
- Luke 9:28-36
- Matthew 6:14-15
- The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962.