The Praying Christian

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

A little boy went to Church with his mamma and daddy. He promised his parents he would behave if he could sit in the “big” service, rather than go to the Children’s Church he usually attended. As the little boy watched the service unfold, the preacher began to pray. As the preacher ended the prayer, he said “We ask this in Jesus’ Name”, and sat down. Without thinking, the little boy blurted out:

You didn’t say AMEN”!

Does Your Prayer Hang On An “Amen”?

There’s really nothing in the Bible that says “you must say ‘Amen’” for your prayer to be acceptable to God. The word “amen” comes from both Greek and Hebrew. In Greek it is ἀμήν amēn (pronounced am-ane’), and the Greek itself came from the Hebrew אָמֵן ʼâmên, (pronounced aw-mane’). The word means “this word is true, this is sure, so be it, of a truth”. The Greek Lexicon states:

At the beginning of a discourse – surely, truly, of a truth. At the end of a discourse – so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled. It was a custom, which passed over from the Synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own.”

Jesus often used a double amen in His sermons, quite apart from prayer. The King James often quotes Jesus’ amens as “verily”, as in:

John 1:51 … verily, verily (amen, amen) I say unto you …
John 3:3 … verily, verily (amen, amen) I say unto thee …

Jesus uses “amen, amen” some 25 times in the Book of John alone. The doubled “amen” makes what Jesus says emphatically strong. So “amen” does not have to be in a prayer, but is a statement of affirmation. What DOES have to be in prayer?

Healthy Christians Frequently Pray

Prayer should not be something you do just every now and then, or only during special times (like before a meal or prior to bed). Prayer should be frequent. In fact, the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17,

Pray Without Ceasing

The Christian’s lifestyle should be thoroughly interlaced with prayer. We live in a rough, fallen world. Beloved, if we would pray more, we would worry less. Prayer reminds us that not only is God in control, it tells us that we are weak, and desperately need His presence in our lives.

When Peter was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, the Bible says that:

Acts 12:5 … prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him …

The Church prayed together, remembering that Jesus promised “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). When God’s people come together and pray, the power of God comes to earth. The Church prayed for Peter, and called an angel from Heaven to let him out of prison.

Prayer moves mountains.
Prayer calls angels.
Prayer stirs the heart of God.

The Apostle Paul had power with God because he prayed. He told the Church at Rome:

Romans 1:9-10 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you

Paul also prayed for his disciple Timothy, telling him:

2 Timothy 1:3-4 … without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4 greatly desiring to see thee

Defining The Concept: When the Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing”, I do not think that it means we should never stop praying. There are times when we must interact with other people, at the store, at work, and in our homes. Though Paul said he “prayed without ceasing”, we know that God used him to write scripture, and to preach the Gospel. So it is certain there were times when Paul was not praying. I think the intent of “pray without ceasing” is that we should never be far from our God, and never be lacking in addressing Him. The praying Christian is the joyful Christian.

When we pray, we are not doing so for show, or to be seen of men. We are praying to our Heavenly Father. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:5-6 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 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.

When thou prayest”. Jesus doesn’t say IF you pray,
but WHEN you pray.

Prayer is something that every Christian should do. Jesus tells us that when we pray, we are not to be praying so as to impress a fallen world. Prayer is communication with the Almighty God. Do not pray just so that others can hear you.

Some have taken Jesus’ statement, “when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door”, to mean that no one should ever hear us pray. This is not the Lord’s emphasis. He doesn’t mean that we should never pray publicly, but that we should never pray to be seen of others. Prayer is not a stage performance.

However, there are times when public prayer is perfectly acceptable. Herbert Lockyer’s “All The Prayers Of The Bible” notes there are 650 prayers listed in the Bible, and that Jesus Himself prayed 25 different times during His earthly ministry. One of Jesus most well known prayers is recorded in John 17, often called “Jesus’ Priestly Prayer for the Church”. Jesus obviously prayed publicly, else the prayer would have not been recorded in the Bible. We may pray publicly, but only if we can do so and keep our mind focused on God and not on those who might be around us.

Prayer speaks to God.
Good prayer always has a purpose.

Jesus tells us:

Matthew 6:7-8 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.

What Jesus calls vain repetitions is a reference to just mouthing words, over and over, thinking that this serves some purpose. God knows what our needs are, and yet wants us, as His children, to ask Him for things. James said:

James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

We who pray are not to use words with no purpose, but are to always remember we are speaking to a Person in prayer. God is Almighty, but He nonetheless is a Person. He does not want us to say just a mouthful of words without purpose. Let us “ask in faith, nothing waivering” (James 1:6).

Pray Specifically and Purposefully

When we pray, let us pray specifically and purposefully until we get a definite answer from God. Jesus illustrated this in:

Luke 18:1-8 {Jesus} spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

There are times when we pray that God does not answer our prayers immediately. What should we do? We should keep approaching the Throne of Grace. We should pursue God in prayer just as this widow pursued the unjust judge. God will answer our prayers, but we must seek His face until we get an answer. In the Garden of Gethsemane our Lord Jesus prayed three times:

Matthew 26:39 … O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Jesus knew that the Cup of Divine Judgment would be poured out on Him at Calvary. Jesus prayed three times that this cup pass, if it were possible. It was not possible. After the third prayer (Matthew 26:44) Jesus got up, and with purpose told His disciples:

Matthew 26:46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

Once the prayer is answered, Jesus goes on to do the Father’s will. We should do like Jesus. We are to pray, knocking on the door of Heaven, until we get an answer. Once we get an answer, let us move forward, crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land. Let us live for God!

Jesus’ Model Of Prayer

It was after a session of prayer that:

Luke 11:1-4 … one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Matthew records the more familiar format of the Lord’s Prayer we are acquainted with:

Matthew 6:9-13 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.

Proper prayer always honors God first. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus started by emphasizing that “Our Father God is in Heaven – and we want to hallow or glorify His Name”. Many times when we pray, we immediately turn to our needs. Jesus tells us that before we address our needs, we are to address God’s glory. We pray that Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. We acknowledge that we will receive God’s answer to prayer and rest in that answer, whether it is according to what WE think it should be. God is ultimately in control – that is His nature. If it is God’s will that we suffer, then it is for the best that we suffer, for God always knows best.

The Apostle Paul recounts this time in his life:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 … lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

We do not truly know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me was. We know that Paul sought God three times that this thorn be removed. God’s response? My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. God told Paul that he would have to live within this valley. Paul, rather than being bitter, recognized truly that what God was doing was for his own good. The Apostle then began to praise God for the thorn in the flesh, as well as for other “infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, {and} distresses for Christ’s sake. Paul truly believed the Scripture that:

Romans 8:28 … we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

After seeking the glory of God in prayer, the believer is supposed to pray for his needs. Jesus simply said:

Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

This part of the prayer focuses on our present needs. Notice that this part of the prayer is very short, and to the point. We pray directly to God our Father, asking Him for our needs for that day. But we also pray for our yesterdays.

Matthew 6:12-13 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil …

We pray for our failures before God. We all fall short of His glory, of His desires for our lives. So we ask our Lord to forgive us, in Jesus’ name.

Prayer Demands A Forgiving Spirit

But our forgiveness is conditional on how we ourselves have forgiven others. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:14-15 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.

If we are carrying grudges or hardness in our hearts toward others, then we will not be forgiven. God wants us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Though we fail daily, our God never fails. We are to forgive even our enemies. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:44-45 … But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

If we want our prayers answered, we must be sure to forgive those who have wronged us. This includes – but is not limited to – our spouses. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Carrying grudges against anyone, especially toward a spouse, definitely hinders our prayers before God. The marital relationship is supposed to reflect the same love that Jesus Christ has for His Church, and the Church has for Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:25-28). The Bible says:

Colossians 3:17-19 whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. 18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

After praying that God will forgive our sins against Himself just as we have forgiven sins against ourselves, we close our prayers by acknowledging our desperate need of the Lord’s guiding hand (13) “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Some versions read “Deliver us from the Evil One”. As believers we need God’s daily intervention in our lives. I am so frail and subject to failure that I feel like that old song said:

Oh Lord, I can’t even walk without you holding my hand
The mountains too high and the valleys too wide
Down on my knees that’s where I learned to stand
Oh Lord, I can’t even walk without you holding my hand

Christian, Pray With Confidence, For God Is Faithful

Our God is faithful to His promises. He tells us:

1 John 1:5-9 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God is faithful to forgive sin, but only when we confess sin in Jesus’ name. God is faithful to bless His children, but only when we pray in Jesus’ name. Jesus said:

John 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Some people believe that this means to just tack a “in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen” at the end of a prayer. It means much more than that. To pray in Jesus’ name is to love and believe what Jesus has said about Himself. Jesus told the Pharisees,

John 8:42 If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

God the Father sent Jesus to be the payment for our sins. He also sent Jesus to be our King and Lord. Jesus said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). When you hear the Word of Jesus and do not do it, you are not living in Jesus’ name. Jesus said:

John 14:21, 23 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. … 23 … If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

You are praying “in Jesus’ name” when you are living according to His Word and His directives. Jesus said, “he that loveth Me NOT keepeth NOT My sayings” (John 14:24). When we as believers live in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, then our prayers will be heard of God. When you, dear Christian, depart from the Way of Truth, repent! Confess your sins to your Father above, and ask forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Live your lives walking the path of righteousness, doing as Jesus has told us. Practice praying as you go through your day – “{constant} in prayer” (Romans 12:12). If you keep God close to you as you move through the day, He will be close to you when you pray.

God honors the one who prays while sitting (2 Samuel 7:18), standing (Mark 11:25), kneeling (Daniel 6:10; Luke 22:41), laying prostrate (Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:35), or with uplifted hands (1 Timothy 2:8). God honors the humble prayer that honors the name of Jesus Christ. God honors the prayer that is submissive to His glory. But God cannot honor the prayer from a sinful son, nor from a procrastinator who will not take the time to pray. Christian, we desperately need to be people of prayer. Let’s make a commitment to seek our God’s Face daily, “without ceasing”, for the glory of the Father and the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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