Why and How Should we pray?
Prayer – Why and How Should We Pray?
Before we answer the How question let us look at how far back prayer is mentioned in the bible to see where prayer originated. Then we will consider why we should pray and finally how we should pray.
Where did prayer originate?
26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.
The Sethites by united calling upon Jehovah constituted the first church, and laid the foundation of the kingdom of God, while the Cainites by building a city and inventing arts were founding the kingdom of this world.
Why we should Pray:
As Christians we recognize that we are dependent upon our creator for everything. We have every reason to express our gratitude for God’s blessings. But we have far more reason to respond to God than this. We respond to the love of God for us. God’s love is revealed through the marvelous incarnation and life of Christ, His atonement for us at the Cross, His resurrection, as well as His continuing presence through the Holy Spirit.
As we grow in knowledge and understanding of scripture, we should pray to express our FAITH. The most meaningful prayer comes from a heart that places its trust in the God who has acted and spoken in the Jesus of history and the teachings of the Bible. God speaks to us through the Bible, and we in turn speak to Him in trustful, believing prayer. We are assured by the Scripture that God is personal, living, active, all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful. We know that God can hear and help us. A confident prayer life is built on the cornerstone of Christ's work and words as shown by the prophets and apostles in the Spirit-inspired writings of the Bible.
We pray to express our WORSHIP of Father God, His Son and Holy Spirit. In our worship we recognize what is of highest worth-not ourselves, others, or our work, but God. Only God deserves our highest respect. Guided by Scripture, we set our values in accord with God's will and perfect standards, remembering that before God, angels hide their faces and cry, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts" (Isa 6:3).
We pray to CONFESS our sinfulness, seek God’s forgiveness and restore a right relationship with Him. Awareness of God's holiness leads to consciousness of our own sinfulness. Like the prophet Isaiah, we exclaim, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isa 6:5). By sinning we hurt ourselves and those closest to us; but first of all, and worst of all, sin is against God (Ps 51:4). We must confess our sins to God to get right with Him.
As we will see later, God’s word tells us that until we have a right relationship with God our prayers will be hindered.
We should pray to express our ADORATION for a loving God. In addition, we pray to offer praise to God Himself, for His works, for His words, His righteous judgments and His excellent greatness.
We should pray because we are THANKFUL! Are we unthankful because we think we have not received what we deserve? Do we not realize that if we got what we deserved we would be condemned to everlasting fire because of our guilt? We are sinners! AMEN? As sinners, we are not people of God by nature. We have no claim upon His mercy or grace. Nevertheless, He has forgiven our sins, granted us acceptance as His people, and given us His righteous standing and a new heart and life. Remember ingratitude marks the ungodly (Rom 1:21). Born again believers, in contrast, live thankfully. God has been at work on our behalf in countless ways. So in everything give thanks, even for the discipline that is unpleasant, we give thanks (Col 3:17; 1 Thess 5:18).
We should pray EFFECTIVELY. Prayer has power over everything. God can intelligently act in any part of the universe or human history. Although some people think prayer is a waste of time, the Bible (James 5:16) declares that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much".
Prayer meets inner needs. One who prays will receive freedom from fear (Ps 118:5-6), strength of soul (Ps 138:3), guidance and satisfaction (Isa 58:9-11), wisdom and understanding (Dan 9:20-27), deliverance from harm (Joel 2:32), reward (Matt 6:6), good gifts (Luke 11:13), fullness of joy (John 16:23-24), peace (Phil 4:6-8), and freedom from anxiety (1 Peter 5:7).
Is prayer effective only in the inner lives of those who pray? No, prayer can make a difference in the lives of others. Biblical writers believed prayer for others could result in greater wisdom and power (Eph 1:18-19); inward strength, knowledge of Christ's love, filling with God's fullness (Eph 3:16-19); discernment, approval of what is excellent, filling with the fruits of righteousness (Phil 1:9-11); knowledge of God's will, spiritual understanding, a life pleasing to God, fruitfulness, endurance, patience, joy (Col 1:9-12); a quiet, peaceable life (1 Tim 2:1-2); love for one another and all people, holiness before God (1 Thess 3:10-13); comfort and establishment in every good word and work (2 Thess 2:16-17); love for God, steadfastness in Christ (2 Thess 3:5); the sharing of one's faith, promotion of the knowledge of all that is good (Philem 6); and equipment for every good work that is pleasing to God (Heb 13:20-21).
Some people who think prayer can affect others question the ability of God to change His usual patterns in the physical world. But some prayers in the Bible changed nature and physical bodies.
Jabez prayed for enlarged borders and protection from harm (1 Chron 4:10). Other people in the Bible prayed for deliverance from trouble (Ps 34:15-22), deliverance from both poverty and riches (Prov 30:7-9), deliverance from the belly of a great fish (Jonah 2:7-10), daily bread (Matt 6:11), preservation and sanctification of spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess 5:23), the healing of the sick (James 5:14-15), and the ending of the rain and its beginning again (James 5:17-18).
How should we pray? [Prayer in Public]
To answer that question, Jesus told his disciples in
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
THE LORD'S PRAYER, couched in the plural, "when ye pray, say, Our Father ... give us ... forgive us ... lead us" shows that forms suit public joint prayer. "Thou when thou prayest, enter into thy closet ... shut thy door, pray to thy Father in secret"; in enjoining private prayer Christ gives no form for how to pray.
The Lord's prayer is our model. The invocation is the plea on which the prayer is grounded, God's revealed Fatherhood.
Foremost stand the three petitions
1. for hallowing God's name,
2. God's kingdom coming,
3. God's will being done below as above;
then our four needs,
4. for bread for body and soul,
5. for forgiveness producing a forgiving spirit in ourselves,
6. for not being led into temptation,
7. for deliverance from evil.
In Private Prayer the Lord offered no particular form and set no requirement for form ot content:
I have learned that in my own private prayer it is helpful to follow the following general guide: I strive to be in right standing daily, but I beleive that this is very important when we pray, to be in right standing. This is why I make confession a part of my private prayer almost immediately.
A: Adoration & Praise - to focus on the Lord and to quiet our minds
C: Confession - to put us in a right relationship with the Lord
T: Thanksgiving - to acknowledge Him and what He has already
done in our lives
S: Supplication - to make our needs know
L: Listening for an answer - to hear Him when He speaks to us
When I am upset or feeling under attack I find I need to become calm before I can pray as I should. There is something about adoration and praise that seems to elicit a response in my spirit that settles me, calms me and enables me to approach prayer with the proper frame of mind and pray effectively. If this helps you also then that is a blessing.
It has also been helpful to my walk to constantly remind myself that, Our "Father knoweth what things we have need Of before we ask Him"; "we know not what things we should pray for as we ought" (Matt 6:8; Rom 8:26). Yet "the Spirit helpeth our infirmities,". Nor is the blessing merely subjective; but we may pray for particular blessings, temporal and spiritual, in submission to God's will, for ourselves. "Thy will be done," and "if we ask anything according to His will" (1 John 5:14-15), is the limitation. Every truly believing prayer contains this limitation. God then grants either the petition or something better than it, so that no true prayer is lost (2 Cor 12:7-10; Luke 22:42; Heb 5:7).
Also, we should make "intercessions" for others as exhorted of us in, (1 Tim 2:1). God promises blessings in answer to prayer, as the indispensable condition of the gift (Matt 7:7-8).
How important is it to Pray?
As a survivor of Polio at the age of 6 my cousin’s, sister’s and my survival without paralysis or disability are living testaments to the power of prayer and the difference prayer made in our three lives. 36 children contracted polio the summer of 1950. Twenty one of them died, twelve of them were crippled. Only three of them came through without any crippling effects. My cousin, my sister and I. I can tell you that my mother and Grandparents prayed for the three of us both morning and evening without fail
Praise the Lord for His Mercy and goodness.
James tells us in Chap 5:16
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.