Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Make a Request

What is our so-called "world view?" Jesus told the Jews, "'You are of this world'" (Jn 8:23). There are the facts of life. Paul says "if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either: (1Th 3:10). It is a matter of survival. However, Jesus told his disciples "'you are not of the world . . . [because] I chose you out of the world'" (Jn 15:19). Which side then are you on? Is it just survival of the fittest, or is there another way? It is a matter of perspective. "Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God" (1Co 15:31). "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth" (Col 2:3). But you still have to exist. However, "'your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things'" (Mt 6:32). "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above" (Ja 1:17). However, Jesus said, "'Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself'" (Mt 6:33). It is God's promise to provide for our needs by saying "my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Php 4:19).

The introduction suggests it is not just a matter of survival though it requires cooperation. The key is to "be anxious for nothing, but . . . let your requests be made known to God" (Php 4:6). "'Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you'" (:33). Jesus said, "'If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it'" (Jn 14:14) because "'everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds'" (Lk 11:10). We are taught in prayer to ask, "'Give us this day our daily bread'" (Mt 6:11). The promise is for believers who "trust in the Lord . . . and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps 37:3-4). We know that "if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us . . . [and] we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him" (1Jo 5:14-15).

Asking is commonly associated with prayer. For example, you might make a solemn request to God for help. Also, you may ask a question expecting an answer. Or else, you may ask for a tangible expectation such as for something to be done. "We know we have the requests which we have asked from Him" (Jn 11:42). "'In all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive'" (Mt 21:22). Jesus said, "'All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you'" (Mk 11:24). "'In that day you will not question Me about anything . . . [for] if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you'" (Jn 16:23).

Prayers for Israel

Prayer originated in the Old Testament. Worship occurred during the Feasts of the Lord such as when "the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering" (Lk 1:10). Even Cornelius, a Roman soldier, explained, "'I was praying in my house during the ninth hour'" (Ac 10:30). Daniel was devoted to prayer and "continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God" (Da 6:10) and "speaking in prayer" (9:21). He prayed, "'Our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and . . . let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary'" (:17). He said "I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications" (:3).

Solomon emphasized the value of prayer when he interceded for Israel. He said God would deliver them if they "'repent and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity'" (2Ch 6:37) and "'pray to their land which You have given to their fathers'" (:38). Solomon prayed to dedicate the temple. He quoted God saying, "'I have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel'" (2Ch 6:5). Prayer is appropriate for important events. Solomon said, "'Have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication . . . to listen to the cry and to the prayer which your servant prays before You'" (6:19). After that "fire came down from heaven . . . and the glory of the Lord filled the house" (7:1). Next "the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, 'I have heard your prayer'" (:12) and "My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place'" (:15). Praying and listening to prayer is not incidental. To pray is crucial to the communication built into the undertaking. Covenants are established via the message and warnings are explained by responses. "'If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land'" (:14).

Prayers of Prophets

Prayer in the Bible is to make requests of God. That requestor needs an answer. Solomon asked, "'O my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place'" (2Ch 6:40). Attention is when you take note of someone or something that is important or interesting. Daniel said, "'I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications'" (Da 9:3). In the Old Testament there were designated prophets who received messages from God. Eli told Samuel, "'If He calls you, that you shall say, 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening''"(1Sa 3:9). God used prophets to minister to Israel. Samuel said, "'Far be it from me that I shall sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way'" (12:23). "The people said to Samuel, 'Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, so that we may not die'" (:19). Notice it refers to "your God" and not ours. "So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day" (:18). An emergency precipitated Israel's predicament and they appealed to Samuel, "'Do not cease to cry out . . . that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines'" (7:8). "Samuel cried to the Lord" (:9) and "the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them" (:10). In this case he cried out as opposed to calling out. Crying out can be partly a passionate, almost inarticulate expression. It is a loud, emotional request to be rescued. God said to Samuel, "''I regret that I have made Saul king' . . . and Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night" (15:11). Other leaders had found themselves in the same situation. "They said to me, 'The remnant there . . . are in great distress and reproach. When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the Lord of heaven'" (Neh 1:3-4). Moses said, "'I fell down before the Lord the forty days and nights'" (Dt 9:25).

Prayer of Petition

Daniel gave his "attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications" (Da 9:3). In essence, he sought God to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" (Ja 1:33). "He who seeks, finds" (Lk 11:10). What does it mean to use prayer and supplications? Is supplication an additional requirement? "In everything by prayer and supplications with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Php 4:6). To supplicate may be to kneel down and seek by earnest prayer to implore a response. Daniel "continued kneeling on his knees three times a day" (Da 6:10). Moses said, "'I will spread out my hands to the Lord'" (Ex 9:29). It is with humility and "an attitude of thanksgiving" (Col 4:2). Solomon said God would deliver them if they "repent and make supplication" (2Ch 6:37). Jesus said, "'Whenever you stand praying, forgive'" (Mk 11:25).

Paul instructed "that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men" (1Ti 2:1). To entreat is a synonym of supplicate. It is to appeal to, beseech or implore someone. In a courtroom you would make an appeal to an authority with respect to a particular cause. People create petitions defining an objective and then seek the signatures of supporters. It is a deliberate plan. We are to "be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints" (Eph 6:18). "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit" (:18). "Devote yourselves to prayer" (1Co 7:5) and be "devoted to prayer" (Ro 12:12) "keeping alert in it" (Col 4:2) "at all times, praying" (Lk 21:36). Paul told them "how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request" (Ro 1:9-10).

Prayer of Entreaty

God told Moses to say to Pharaoh, "'Thus says the Lord, 'Let My people go, that they may serve Me''" (Ex 8:1). Then "the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt" (:6). Next Pharoah said to Moses, 'Entreat the Lord that He remove the frogs'" (:8) and Moses asked "'when shall I entreat for you?'" (:9). The verb used is a synonym for petitioning in a supplicating way. Regarding the plague of the flies, Pharaoh asked Moses to "'Make supplication for me'" (:28) which uses an equivalent word. Moses responded, "I shall make supplication to the Lord'" (:29) and "the Lord did as Moses asked" (:31). Communication was successful. For other plagues, Pharaoh again requested supplication but then hardened his heart afterwards. Both parties were familiar with entreaties, petitions and supplications. However, Pharoah told Moses, "'I have sinned this time; the Lord is the righteous one'" (Ex 9:27). Then he asked for him to "'make supplication to the Lord'" (:28). But Moses replied, "'as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God'" (:30).

You might say that the common concept of praying is asking God to solve a problem. Jesus instructed, "'Go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father . . . who sees what is done in secret'" (Mt 6:6). Hannah "greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly" (1Sa 1:10). "She was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard" (:13). Then Eli answered, "'Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him'" (:17). "The prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up" (Ja 5:15). Job asked, "'Oh that my request might come to pass, and that God would grant my longing!'" (Job 6:8). God told Hezekiah, "'I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold I will heal you'" (2Ki 20:5). Elijah was present when a child died. He appealed, "'O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child's life return to him'" (1Ki 17:21). "The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived" (:22). God told Abimelech in a dream, "'Restore the man's wife . . . and he will pray for you and you will live'" (Ge 20:7). "Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children" (:17).

Pray without Ceasing

Paul said, "I want men in every place to pray" (1Ti 2:8) and prayers "be made on behalf of all men" (:1). He was "always offering prayer with joy in my prayer for you all" (Php 1:4). He reported "unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers" (Ro 1:9-10). "We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will" (Col 1:9). He said to pray "in everything" (Php 4:6) "at all times" (Eph 6:18) "without ceasing" (1Th 5:17). Jesus taught, "'That at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart'" (Lk 18:1). Peter said "be of sound judgment and sober in spirit for the purpose of prayer" (1Pe 4:7). "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (Ja 5:16).

Jesus taught them to pray, "'Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name'" (Mt 6:9). He said to ask, "'Give us this day our daily bread'" (:11) "lf you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it'" (Jn 14:14). Paul instructed "be anxious for nothing" (Php 4:6) Jesus taught to pray to "'not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil'" (Mt 6:13). He said, "'Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak'" (26:41). You will "encounter various trials" (Ja 1:2) but God "with the temptation will provide the way of escape" (1Co 10:13).

Pray to God

How and when do you pray? "In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety" (Heb 5:7). "During the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet" (Lk 21:37). He did so "as was His custom . . . and the disciples also followed Him" (22:39). Furthermore, "Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness to pray" (5:16). Jesus "knelt down and began to pray . . . [and then] rose from prayer" (22:41,45). "In the early morning, while "it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there" (Mk 1:35). "After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone" (Mt 14:23). "He spent the whole night in prayer to God" (Lk 6:12).

It didn't require Jesus to be in isolation to pray. Once "He took Peter and John and James, and went up to the mountain to pray" (9:28). "Praying alone, the disciples were with Him" (:18). But for a little privacy He said, "'Sit here while I go over there and pray'" (Mt 26:36). Jesus asked them to keep watch while he prayed, but when he returned, he found them asleep (Mt 26:38,45). He warned them to "keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation'" (:41). Prayer has its part in survival. He told them to pray so they would "'have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place'" (Lk 21:36).

Pray Together

It is interesting that eventually "one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples'" (Lk 11:1). However, there was a caveat it pertained to being when "'I will see you again'" (Jn 16:22). For then, "'If you ask the Father for anything in My name He will give it to you'" (:23). This is because "we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus" (Heb 10:19). Cornelius was told "your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God" (Ac 10:30). Jesus stated "'I knew that You always hear Me'" (Jn 11:42). "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Ac 2:42). "All those who had believed were together and had all things in common (:44). Earlier they had gone "up to the upper room where they were staying . . . and these all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer"(Ac 1:13-14). All were involved with a singular purpose. Another time "they lifted their voices to God with one accord" (Ac 4:24). They cited that it was "to be whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur" (:28). They then asked to "grant that your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place" (:29-30). "And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (:31).

Pray in the Spirit

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps 111:10). To effectively pray requires a reverance for God. This is achieved since his "'sheep follow Him because they know His voice'" (Jn 10:4). Jesus regularly went to solitary places to pray. You might say that way it was easier to hear God's "still small voice" (1Ki 19:12 KJV). How do his sheep learn God's voice? "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps 146:10). "He leads me beside quiet waters" (23:2). "I have stilled and quieted my soul" (131:2). Therefore "cease striving and know that I am God" (46:10). To be able to hear effectively we have to improve our hearing by "practice" (Heb 5:14) having our "senses trained" (:14). Through practice you protect against becoming "dull of hearing" (:11). Psalm 25 explains how God approaches this. He "leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way" (:9). "Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way He should chose" (:12). "None of those who wait for You will be ashamed" (:3). "We do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us . . . according to the will of God" (Ro 8:26-27).

The disciples received the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed upon them (Jn 20:22). Then they were sealed (Eph 4:30) and received the promise of the Spirit in their hearts (2Co 1:22). Next Jesus said, "'Behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you: but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high'" (Lk 24:49) for "'you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now'" (Ac 1:5). Therefore, they received the "gift of the Holy Spirit" (2:38). "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance" (:4). In another situation "while Peter was speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening" (10:44) and "they were hearing them speaking with tongues" (:46) and Peter said it was "just as we did" (:47). Also, in Samaria they received the Spirit (:14-18) and Simon observed what he could "see and hear" (:33). Next, at Ephesus when "Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying" (19:6). Paul said, "I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all" (1Co 14:18). Then he said "I wish that you all spoke in tongues" (:5) and told them to "not forbid to speak in tongues" (:39). He explained "if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays" (:14). If "we do not know how to pray as we should the Spirit Himself intercedes for us" (Ro 8:26). "One who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God" (1Co 14:2). Consequently that person "edifies himself" (:4) and is established in the Spirit by "praying in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 20).