“Pray without ceasing.” — I Thessalonians 5:17.
I do not imply that I know more about prayer than others. I hate to hear anyone celebrated as “an expert in prayer,” for the simple reason that no child should be called an expert in talking to his/her parent. What’s so hard about that?
Granted, we often make it harder than it should be, with our rules, our religions, our legalism, our opinions, our blindness, and our sinfulness. But in its essence, prayer is talking to the Father through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Period.
What I do imply however (for this article) is that there are insights in Scripture on the subject of prayer many of us may have missed. Here are a few……
One. Scripture says you do not know how to pray as you should. That’s Romans 8:26. So, let’s not let that stop us. God’s not looking for eloquence but faith.
Two. Scripture says both the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus are interceding for us. That is Romans 8:26 and 8:34. Now, personally, I have no idea how this works, particularly when Romans 8:31 says “God is for us!” So, it appears the Triune God is on our side!
Three. Scripture indicates the best pray-ers God knew were Moses and Samuel. That’s Jeremiah 15:1.
Four. Unconfessed sin in our lives stops our prayers dead in their tracks. That’s Isaiah 59:1-3.
Five. When we fail to intercede for those who count on us, we sin against the Lord. That’s I Samuel 12:23. See Ephesians 6:18-19.
Six. As a rule, short to-the-point prayers are best. That’s Matthew 6:5-7.
The inimitable John R. Rice used to say, “Prayer is not a touring sedan in which to see the sights of the city, but a truck which you drive to the warehouse, pick up the goods, and come home.”
Seven. Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him, but ask Him anyway. That’s Matthew 6:8. He knew what Bartimaeus needed but had no intention of intervening until the blind beggar of Jericho asked for his sight (Luke 18).
Eight. Not every prayer has to be offered in Jesus’ name.
The Lord’s Prayer wasn’t. That’s Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. Praying in Jesus’ name means more than simply using the words.
Nine. There are no blank checks for prayer.
Even though on the surface Matthew 6:7-8 and John 14:13-14 read like “name it and claim it,” the early disciples clearly did not interpret this promise that way. Otherwise, they’d not have spent a night in jail or suffered a single stripe from jailer’s whip.
Ten. None of us is worthy to come into the Father’s presence, but fortunately that’s beside the point. Hebrews 4:14-16 says we come on the basis of what Jesus has done.
Eleven. General prayers are okay if that’s all you’ve got, but the Lord seems to prefer specific requests. That’s Mark 10:51.
Twelve. Think of prayer as “reminding God.” That’s Isaiah 62:6-7. “You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves.”
We see the early church doing exactly that in Acts 4:24-30. Threatened and abused, the Lord’s people dropped to their knees and prayed. They reminded God of Who He is, What He has done, What He has promised, and What their situation is. Then and only then do they make their request. That’s an outstanding pattern for the Church of today.
The Lord Jesus said, “It is written: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations” (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). The Old Testament verse He was quoting was Isaiah 56:7. I suggest to churches where I’m guest preaching that while our Lord told the people of His day that they had turned God’s house into a den of thieves (or house of merchandise), we have not done that. But we have made it into a house of worship. of teaching, of fellowship, and many other things, none of them bad. But in very few cases have we made the house of God an actual house of prayer for all the nations. And it’s something we should remedy.