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The Prayer-Filled Life (Part 1)

Praying Biblically and Effectively

Introduction

One of my favorite portions of the Bible is Psalm 119. One reason is that in these 176 verses, the Psalmist points us to the irreducible. By this I mean he focuses on the two most basic elements of our spiritual life—the Word and prayer. Just a casual reading of this Psalm shows this, but note the following facts: (a) Except for verses 1-3 and 115, every other verse (172 verses) is a form of prayer addressed to the Lord. It provides us with a marvelous illustration of how to pray. (b) In addition, the Psalmist uses ten different terms for the Word of God and all but verses 90, 122, and 132 mention at least one of these terms. The large number of terms is designed to call our attention to the sufficiency of God’s Word and the number of ways God has designed it to meet our needs. Most study Bibles give a list of these with a basic explanation of each term in the footnotes to this Psalm.

Psalm 119 teaches us the truth that, regardless of what life brings, God has given us two sources that are totally sufficient and contain everything we need: (a) We have God’s holy Word that gives us wisdom from God, and (b) we have the awesome privilege of prayer that brings the power of God into one’s life for strength, courage, endurance, and deliverance along with spiritual growth and change.

Further, the Psalmist teaches us that the Word and prayer are like inseparable twins because, as the Word reveals God, His all-sufficiency, infinite goodness, love, mercy, and grace, it also reveals man in his insufficiency and total need. But in the process of this, God also offers man the opportunity (through His revealed plan of salvation in the Savior) to come humbly to Him in prayer for His direction and supply.

As I read this Psalm, I am further challenged by some other observations. First there is the way the Psalmist consistently turned his focus on the Lord rather than the problem he was facing at any given time, regardless of its nature. A second observation is his constant dependence on God to answer (lead, direct, sustain, deliver, etc.), but never just according to his own personal desires or wants. His prayer was that God would answer according to His Word. Let me illustrate:

First, in at least fifteen places we have a clear contrast where the Psalmist calls out to God regarding a particular problem, but he always turns his gaze immediately to the Lord and His Word. He gets his eyes off the problem by keeping his eyes on the Lord through the Word. Note the following illustrations from Psalm 119:23-24, 51-52, 61, 59-70, 78, 141-143, 161.

Second, though the concept of praying according to the Word is implicit throughout this Psalm, some 15 or more times the Psalmist specifically makes his requests dependent on the principles of God’s Word with phrases such as, “according to Thy Word.” Note the following examples in verses 25, 41, 58, 116, 145, 156.

What is the point? In view of the rest of this Psalm, the Psalmist was not simply praying, help me because you have promised in the Word to do so. For the Psalmist, prayer wasn’t just a matter of “naming and claiming.” Rather, he was praying that God’s purposes and plan might be accomplished in his life. He wanted God’s deliverance, of course, but in ways that would honor the Lord and produce spiritual change and growth in his own life. Psalm 119 is one prayer after another, but always according to the principles, purposes, and directives of the Word. Note in verses 59, 67, 71, 75 and 133 how the Psalmist was committed to what God was doing in his life and this commitment controlled and directed the way he prayed.

Third, repeatedly the Psalmist prayed for insight and ability to both understand and apply God’s Word. He recognized his complete inability to properly understand and respond in faithful obedience apart from the work of God. Verses 17-19, 26, and 33-38 will illustrate the point.

Our last lesson was devoted to the Word-filled life and it is only fitting that we now focus on the prayer-filled life as another key element of God’s gracious provisions that are so vital for our spiritual journey. For the most part, the first section of this study will be little more than an outline on some of the key principles of the Word on prayer. The verse references are self-explanatory when read in connection with the content of the outline. This will be followed by an exposition of a few key passages on prayer.

The Nature of Prayer:
Worship and Service to God

The basic meaning of the English word “worship” (originally “worth + ship”) is “to act in accord to the worth of something or someone.” Worship is in essence anything we do which honors God, demonstrates devotion to Him, and acts in accord with who and what God is. In John 4:21-24, the word for worship is proskunew which means “to kiss the hand, do reverence to.” It referred to an act of obeisance or reverence whether to express respect and devotion or make supplication.

John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You people worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But a time is coming—and now is here—when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

When we go to God in prayer, we are doing honor to Him in that we recognize Him as the all-sufficient one and ourselves as truly insufficient or inadequate. This is suggested in the primary and general words for prayer in the New Testament. These are proseucomai, the verb found 85 times, and proseuch, the noun found 37 times. Pros means “toward,” and eucomai means “to make request, invoke.” These two words are only used of God in the New Testament. The preposition pros adds the ideas of direction, closeness, or approaching God to make requests. Certainly as the general and primary New Testament words, proseucomai and eucomai contain the idea of worship in the sense mentioned.

However, prayer, as a further evidence of reverence and honor for God, must also be seen as service and ministry. In Philippians 3:3 the word for worship is the Greek latreuw which basically means “to serve.” "For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials”

When Satan offered the Lord Jesus the kingdoms of the world if He would bow down and worship him, the Lord Jesus responded by using both proskunew and latreuw. This should broaden and give us some interesting insight into the concept of worship. True worship in spirit and truth, regardless of the nature, includes service to God. Note Jesus’ reply when Satan tempted Jesus to bow down and worship him in Matthew 4:10: “Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship ( proskunew) the Lord your God, and serve ( latreuw) only Him.”’”

Worship is not simply something we do in religious ceremonies and rituals in which we are supposed to be demonstrating devotion to God. Regarding several words in the New Testament which contain the idea of worship, Vine writes:

The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture. A consideration of the above verbs shows that it is not confined to praise; broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgment to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deed done in such acknowledgment.96

We might note how latreuw is used in the New Testament. (a) Latreuw was used of temple service in Hebrews 9:9, “This was a symbol for the time then present, when gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper (literally, “the one who did the service”).” (b) Latreuw was used of any kind of service to the Lord in Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship ( latreuw) the living God?” (c) Latreuw was used of the service of one’s life accompanied by reverence and awe as in Hebrews 12:28, “So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship ( latreuw) pleasing to God in devotion and awe.” (d) Latreuw was also used of the preaching of the gospel, “For God, whom I serve ( latreuw) in my spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness that I continually remember you” (Rom. 1:9).

Though prayer may take on various forms and roles, all prayer is clearly an aspect of worship in which we demonstrate both reverence and service to God as an expression of the believer’s priesthood and ministry as an ambassador of Christ.

The Types and Role of Prayer as Worship

(1) Confession of sin. We can immediately see how confession is a form of worship or reverential fear in that it is a response to the holiness of God. It acknowledges not only that God is holy, but that unconfessed sin forms a barrier to fellowship and hinders God’s answer to prayer. Obviously, if our prayer is to be effective, sin must be dealt with. Prayer, to be effective, needs to begin with confession where we acknowledge sin to the Lord (cf. Isa. 59:1-3; Psa. 66:18).

Isaiah 59:1-2 Look, the Lord’s hand is not too weak to deliver you;
his ear is not too deaf to hear you.
2 But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God;
your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers.

Psalm 32:5 Then I confessed my sin;
I no longer covered up my wrongdoing.
I said, “I will confess my rebellious acts to the Lord.”
And then you forgave my sins. (Selah)

1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.

(2) Praise.

Hebrews 13:5 Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.”

(3) Thanksgiving.

Ephesians 5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

(4) Intercession. Praying for others in specific requests in service to God as a ministry of the priesthood He has given us.

Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to conduct ourselves rightly in every respect.

1 Peter 2:5 and 9 you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Romans 10:1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God on behalf of my fellow Israelites is for their salvation.

(5) Petition. Prayer for our own needs in acknowledgment of our inadequacy and His sufficiency.

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.

The Divine Order of Prayer

(1) We pray to the Father—our PROVIDER.

John 16:23-26 At that time you will ask me nothing. I tell you the solemn truth, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete. 25 “I have told you these things in obscure figures of speech; a time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in obscure figures, but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 At that time you will ask in my name, and I do not say that I will ask the Father on your behalf.

James 1:17 All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.

Ephesians 1:17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him,

(2) We pray in the name of the Son—our ACCESS. (Cf. also John 16:23-26 above.)

Ephesians 2:18 so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

(3) We pray in the power of the Holy Spirit—our MEANS.

Jude 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit,

Categories of Prayer

Understanding that the Christian life is a spiritual warfare, the following, based upon praying according to military objectives, is suggested.

(1) Strategic—long-range goals.

Colossians 1:9-12 For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects—bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.

Matthew 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

(2) Tactical—immediate goals and needs.

Colossians 4:2-4 Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may make it known as I should.

Ephesians 6:19 Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak—that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel,

(3) Logistic—physical and support needs (cf. also Jam. 5:13-20).

Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but those in the church were earnestly praying to God for him.

Acts 13:3 Then, after they had fasted and prayed and placed their hands on them, they sent them off.

Philippians 1:19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

It has been my observation that most people and most prayer meetings focus primarily on logistical needs, particularly as they relate to illnesses. Our prayers often lack in vision for the great strategic and tactical objectives for which the Lord has left us here on earth. In fact, when we pray for the logistical needs of food, clothing, jobs, health, etc., what is our motivation? Is it primarily our comfort and pleasure? Or is it for the provision of God so we can fulfill His purposes for the body of Christ in the Great Commission—evangelism and building people in Christ for ministry? The prayer life of the believer ought to revolve around: (a) who we are—ambassadors of Christ, (b) where we are—on temporary assignment in the world, and (c) why we are here—to represent the Lord Jesus to a dying world.

Times of Prayer

(1) Private

Scheduled:

Psalm 5:3 Lord, in the morning you will hear me;
in the morning I will present my case to you and then wait expectantly for an answer.

Psalm 88:13 As for me, I cry out to you, O Lord;
in the morning my prayer confronts you.

Psalm 119:147 I am up before dawn crying out.
I find hope in your assuring word.

Matthew 6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Spontaneous:

Nehemiah 2:1-4 Then in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought to me, I took the wine and gave it to the king. Previously I had not been depressed in the king’s presence. 2 So the king said to me, “Why do you appear to be depressed when you aren’t sick? What can this be other than sadness of heart?” This made me very fearful. 3 I replied to the king, “O king, live forever! Why would I not be dejected in appearance when the city with the graves of my ancestors lies desolate and its gates destroyed by fire?”

Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid,
I trust in you.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 constantly pray,

(2) Family

Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way that he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

(3) Team

Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but those in the church were earnestly praying to God for him.

Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the rest of the prisoners were listening to them.

(4) Public

1 Timothy 2:8 So I want the men to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without anger or dispute.

Prerequisites for Effective Prayer

There are prerequisites for prayer. We cannot just go dashing into the presence of a holy God in just any spiritual condition. I grew up on a small cattle ranch in East Texas and obviously, in the process of working in such an environment, our boots could become pretty filthy. My mother used to say, “You don’t come into this clean house without either cleaning or removing your boots. This is not a horse stall!” She was right and to do otherwise was being inconsiderate of her and the place we lived in together. The Lord made a similar point in John 13 when He washed the feet of the disciples. When our feet are dirty, a picture of the sin that occurs as we walk down the streets of life, we cannot have fellowship with Him and prayer is a vital element of fellowship (cf. John 13:1-17). See Appendix 4 for a brief overview of the believer’s need of daily cleansing from John 13:1-17.

Note the following important prerequisites for effective prayer:

(1) Personal relationship with Jesus Christ as one’s Savior.

John 14:6 Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

(2) Walking in fellowship: Sins confessed and Spirit-controlled.

Psalm 66:18 If I had harbored sin in my heart,
the sovereign Master would not have listened.

1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.

Ephesians 6:18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.

(3) Living by the Word (cf. Ps. 119).

Proverbs 28:9 The one who turns away his ear from hearing the law,
even his prayer is an abomination.

John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you.

(4) Praying in faith trusting in the will of God.

Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, if you believe, you will receive.

Hebrews 11:6 Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

James 1:5-8 But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.

1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.

Hindrances to Effective Prayer

(1) Failing to pray or ask.

James 4:2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask;

(2) False motives in prayer.

James 4:3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.

(3) Broken relationships.

1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as the weaker partners and show them honor as fellow heirs of the grace of life. In this way nothing will hinder your prayers.

Mark 11:25-26 Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your sins.

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you,

(4) Pretentiousness in prayer.

Matthew 6:5-6 Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

(5) Fainting, giving up, failing to wait on the Lord.

Psalm 27:14 Rely on the Lord!
Be strong and confident!
Rely on the Lord!

Psalm 37:7 Wait patiently for the Lord!
Wait confidently for him!
Do not fret over the apparent success of a sinner,
a man who carries out wicked schemes!

Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.

Reasons and Motives for Prayer

Because it is Commanded in Scripture

This alone is sufficient reason. God has spoken on the matter and it must be important or He would not have given us this privilege and responsibility.

Because of God’s Perfect Provision

God has made perfect provision through the person and work of each member of the trinity which gives us access into the presence of God that we might tap in on the very resources of God’s grace, wisdom, and supply.

(1) God the Father: As Christians, we have an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and father kind of God who cares for us with the heart of a father, but who, unlike earthly fathers, is infinite in His fatherly wisdom, love and care (cf. also Eph. 3:20).

Matthew 6:7-8 When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matthew 7:7-11 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

(2) God the Son: Through the person and work of God the Son, we have perfect access into the presence of God. We have one who cares and feels for us as our Great High Priest, one who intercedes on our behalf, and one who is the perfect example of prayer. (Cf. Eph. 3:12; Rom. 8:34.)

John 16:23-24 At that time you will ask me nothing. I tell you the solemn truth, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete.

Ephesians 2:18 so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Hebrews 4:14-16 Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.

Hebrews 7:25 So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

(3) God the Holy Spirit: Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we have one who, as the Spirit of grace and supplication (Zech. 12:10), assures us of our relationship with God as a child, guides us in our prayer life, helps and intercedes for us, and enables us to pray. In other words, with this kind of provision, what possible reason can we have for not praying? God has made perfect provision for us to come into His presence with our needs. (Cf. also Eph. 6:18; Jude 20.)

Zechariah 12:10 I will pour out upon the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn.

Romans 8:14-15 and 26 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.”…26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.

Because of Our Need

(1) The problem of our inadequacy: There is the need of prayer because of our great inadequacy versus God’s perfect sufficiency and ability to meet our needs and provide for our lives. He is the all-sufficient one with whom nothing is impossible, while we are just the opposite. With man many things are impossible but with God nothing is impossible (cf. also Luke 1:37; 19:26; Mark 9:23; 10:27; 14:36; Luke 18:27).

2 Corinthians 2:16b And who is adequate for these things?

2 Corinthians 3:4-6 Now we have such confidence in God through Christ. 5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Matthew 17:20 He told them, “It was because of your little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.”

(2) The problem of demonic powers: There is the need of prayer because of the battle with demonic forces and powers who are many times stronger than we are. Prayer is needed to employ our armor and experience God’s super-abundant power against the enemy (cf. Dan. 10:1f).

Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, 16 and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.

(3) Our inability to bear fruit apart from God: Prayer is needed for fruit bearing. Without the Lord we can do nothing. Prayer is one of the ways we bring the power of Christ to bear on our ministries and service.

John 15:5-9 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me—and I in him—bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.
9 “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love."

(4) The issues of our total dependency on God: We need prayer because of our needs in general in the many details of life for which man is dependent upon God whether he realizes it or not. The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains belongs to Him. It is He who gives to the sons of men (cf. Ps. 24:1 with 23:1; 50:10; 89:11; Acts 14:17; and 1 Tim. 6:17). Everything comes from Him—food, clothing, housing, travel, sickness, ministry, open doors for the Word, prepared hearts, laborers for the harvest, and on the list goes touching and encompassing every area of life—spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally, everything (Eph. 6:18f; Luke 10:1f).

Colossians 4:2-4 Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may make it known as I should.

Because of What Prayer Accomplishes

The prayer of faith accomplishes much and moves mountains.

James 5:16 So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.

Matthew 17:20 He told them, “It was because of your little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.”

Because of What Happens Without Prayer

Without prayer we faint and we fail.

Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.

Because It Is Part of Our Service to God and Others

Prayer is a privilege and responsibility God has given us as believer priests to serve or minister to and on behalf of others in displaying the loving concern and care of God.

1 Peter 2:5-9 you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it says in scripture, “Look, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and priceless cornerstone, and whoever believes in him will never be put to shame.” 7 So you who believe see his value, but for those who do not believe, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, 8 and a stumbling-stone and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Hebrews 13:15-16 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging his name. 16 And do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.

Because It Glorifies the Lord

As stressed above, when we go to God in prayer, we are acknowledging things about God that glorify Him. We are acknowledging our insufficiency, and His all-sufficiency, love, fatherly care, and gracious provision.

John 14:13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 15:7-8 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.

Romans 15:6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Objects of Prayer:
Things for Which We Should Pray

(1) Needs in general.

Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.

1 Peter 5:7 by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.

(2) Deliverance from temptation.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.

(3) Leaders in government

1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, 2 even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, 4 since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

(4) Our enemies

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you,

(5) The sick

Matthew 14:36 They begged him if they could only touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

James 5:13-15 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you ill? He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up—and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

(6) A sinning believer

1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his fellow Christian committing a sin not resulting in death, he should ask, and God will grant life to the person who commits a sin not resulting in death. There is a sin resulting in death. I do not say that he should ask about that.

James 5:14-15 Is anyone among you ill? He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up—and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

(7) Effectiveness in fulfilling the great commission: (a) for laborers in the harvest; (b) for open doors for the Word; (c) for clarity in giving the Gospel; and (d) for boldness and courage to speak.

Luke 10:2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.

Colossians 4:3 At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.

Ephesians 6:18-19 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. 19 Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak—that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel,

Ephesians 6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak.

(8) The edification and growth of believers in the Word and in Christlike character (cf. also Eph. 3:14-19; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-14).

Ephesians 1:15-18 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, 18 —since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

Guidelines for Group Prayer

(1) Be conversational—use simple and direct language. Just talk to God as you would talk to a father, but also with reverence for who God is, the Lord of the universe.

(2) Be spontaneous—pray as God leads, not with vain repetitions and memorized phrases.

(3) Be clear—loud enough so others can hear, understand, and share in what is being said (1 Cor. 14:16).

(4) Show wisdom—do not use prayer to air sin—yours or others, or gossip in the name of a “prayer request.” Do not preach, exhort or answer or get back at someone in a prayer meeting through your prayer. I have seen this happen, but such ceases to be prayer.

(5) Silence—do not get nervous between audible prayers. Use that time to keep on praying silently.

(6) Focus—learn awareness of Him and not others.

(7) Team effort—prayer is for every believer, not just a few super-duper saints. Every believer is a priest and has access into the very throne of God (Heb. 4:16; 1 Pet. 2:4, 9).

96W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Fleming H. Revel, Westwood, NJ, 1966, p. 236.

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Prayer, Sanctification