HOW TO PRAY
T. PIERCE BROWN
In Luke 11:1, the disciples are said to have requested of Jesus, “Teach us to pray.” Romans8:26says, “We know not how to pray as we ought.” Many times when persons want to know how to pray, they are talking about external mechanics of prayer-how to make their prayers sound better to men who listen. God gives no rules about that. He does give some other information we need to know.
We need to know the conditions of acceptable prayer. One of the first conditions is that we must be obedient children of God for any of the promises of God about the values of prayer to apply to us. Proverbs15:29says, “Jehovah is far from the wicked, but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.” And 1 John 3:21,22 says, “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God; and whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.” Most denominations misuse 1 John 1:9 which says, “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all righteousness.” This is spoken to those who are already children of God, not alien sinners who are not in God’s Kingdom. As Jesus put it in John 15:7, “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
Related to this is that we must ask according to His will. 1 John 5:14, 15 says, “and this is the boldness which we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.” We must have the attitude Jesus expressed in Matthew6:10, “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth”.
Then there must be sincerity (Matthew 6:5). There must be humility (Luke18:10-14). There must be fervency (James5:17). There must be persistency. That is, if a person does not want something badly enough to keep asking for it until he discerns it is not the Lord’s will for him to have it, he may not get it (Luke 11:5-8, Luke 18:1-8). There must be watchfulness (Mark13:33,14:38, Luke 21:36, Col.4:2). There must be thoughtfulness (1 Cor.14:15, Mt. 6:7-8). There must be self-denial (Mt.16:42). This does not mean merely to deny one’s self some things he may want, but to deny himself and let Christ be his Lord. It is to be in the name of, or by the authority of Christ (John14:13,14). This involves a life that is following the authority and teaching of Christ (Lk.6:46, Col. 3:17). And it must be in faith (Mt.21:22, James 1:6,7, 1 John 5:4). Read carefully all these scripture references, and realize that although prayer is a precious privilege of a Christian–a child of God–effective prayer must be in accordance to the will of God. This is not to say that God does not sometimes grant something that an alien sinner prays for. A sinner may pray for rain, and God will allow it to rain, for God causes it to rain on the just and unjust (Mt. 5:45), and does many other wonderful things to all men–saint and sinner. But the promise of answered prayer and blessings is made to the obedient child of God! Be concerned about the nature of your inner being-your soul and heart, and the mechanics of prayer will usually take care of themselves. Studying the model prayer in Matthew 7:5-15 will reveal at least the following: It should be brief. It should not attempt to be showy so people will notice how good it is. It should not have vain repetitions, simply saying over and over the same words. It should be reverent. It should ask petitions for things we and others need.
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.