Through prayer we become bigger than the circumstances that surrender us © DS
Members of the Christian community understand Prayer in different ways, creating rather few arguments in connection with how to pray, what to say, how to present it, in which position to pray, how a prayer can be effective, whether God answers prayers and so on. We will try to explore some of these aspects. Let’s start with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our Counsellor who teaches us all!
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”
Prayer is probably the most important action of our Christian Life. Prayer is not only asking, it is a way to communicate with our Lord, it is a way to be in His presence, to show our love to Him and to hear His voice. It is the moment that we go in front of Him and we lay everything on His feet, we completely surrender ourselves to Him. Prayer is not something that we should take light. The above-mentioned scripture says a lot to us.
How we should pray?
It is written that when we pray, not to be like the hypocrites. This is a heavy word to be said. It is the Lord who speaks in this scripture and describes in details the meaning of the hypocrite: s/he is somebody who prays in order to show off, to declare how a good believer is and how well performs the rituals. Yet, the heart is not pure. S/he does not come in the presence of the Lord with humility to seek Him. We should go into our closet and pray in secret. Does this mean that there is an error when we pray in open, together with other people in the church or when in fellowship? I do not think so. It is important to study our Bible as a whole, not just verse by verse, thus all to come together. The Bible is “written” by the Holy Spirit and no man. There is no lie in it; there is no contradiction or unclear issue. We might not understand all, yet, it barely stands for not clarity. Travelling from book to book we come across incidents where believers were praying together, shouting their prayers in the presence of others and proclaiming their prayers for others. Some examples:
“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”
“When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.”
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
“But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.”
Reading all above scriptures, we notice that believers were praying not in their own rooms necessarily. It says also that the Church was praying for Peter, so it was not a prayer in a secret way; everybody knew that this prayer was taken on. Looking at the bigger picture, I could say that there are moments that the Spirit guides us to pray alone, in our closet, without showing off and as well, there are moments that the fellow believers need to pray as one body. I would call them “personal” prayers and “collective” ones just for the sake of our discussion.
Q: Does it look to you that there is a contradiction? What do you understand?
If we continue reading the chapter 6 of Matthew, we are directed to a specific prayer, the one called “Lord’s Prayer”. We pray this prayer as it is and the truth is that it is a wonderful prayer. There are believers who do not pray this prayer all times, every day or during church services. Are they in error? If we take literary what Jesus Christ said, it seems as an instruction. Is it a command to pray this prayer exactly as it is or reflects a frame of how the outline of a prayer ought to be? The Lord’s Prayer starts with acknowledging that God is our Father and it is addressed to the Father – one of the three persons of the Trinity – and continues by praising Him; asking for His will to be done. It carries on with our physical needs requests, our spiritual needs, seeking protection from the enemy and concludes with praising Him by recognizing His Glory. An important part of this prayer is the subject of Forgiveness. It includes our forgiveness for others as also the request for our forgiveness from Him. We cannot be forgiven without forgiving others. Our prayer in this way becomes powerful.
It seems mostly as a guideline of our prayers. In fact, through the whole New Testament we are introduced in different kinds of prayers and Jesus Christ, himself, asked us to pray in His name, something that does not exist in the Lord’s Prayer. Did He change His mind since His teaching at Matthew, chapter 6? I do not think so! Let’s see few scriptures on this issue:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone”
We can see that there are prayers, prayers of petition, prayer of intercession, yet in the Lord’s Prayer there is for example no intercession. Checking in the dictionary I found that synonyms of Prayer are: Invocation, meditation, contemplation, devotions, chant, petition, supplication, appeal, plea and request.
And in John 14v14:“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Ephesians 1/17-23, John 17 (whole chapter) and much more scriptures, give us some prayer samples. The common element among all those prayers is that they are directed to the Father and I add, as per John 14v14, they should be concluded in the name of Jesus Christ, as He taught us.
Alike all our Christian life, the important “ingredient” of our prayers, as it emerges through numerous verses, seems to be connected with our Heart! Read:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
In the course of previous posts – “Deeds and Fruits” – it was clarified that the Lord looks in our hearts to discover the motivations of our deeds and accordingly he prepares the harvest. It is the same with our prayers. In Jeremiah – and not only – He promised to listen their prayers, the prayers that come from the heart, full of purity, repentance and acknowledging Who the Lord is.
One more scripture will make it even clearer:
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
____________To be continued_______________________