Christian Churches of God
Teach Us to Pray
((Edition 1.1 19950506-19990912)
This paper examines the correct structure of prayer under the direction of Jesus Christ. The meaning of the terms and the significance for prayer in worship are explained. Hindrances to prayer are examined and guidelines in prayer are suggested
Christian Churches of God
PO Box 369, WODEN ACT 2606, AUSTRALIA
(Copyright ã 1995, 1999, 2001 CCG, ed. Wade Cox)
(Summary ed. Wade Cox)
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Teach Us To Pray
The purpose of prayer is to petition God, in order that He might listen and respond appropriately. God gives to each of us our individual gifts and talents, but prayer is everyone's gift and privilege. There are right and wrong ways to pray, so we need to know what the Bible teaches in order to have fervent and effective prayer. The disciples asked Jesus in Luke 11:1 Lord teach us to pray. Jesus established a model prayer, which we call the Lord's Prayer. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus said, "After this manner therefore pray ye". This is a model and the structure of this prayer should be the pattern of our prayer.
The first element of this model prayer focuses attention on God as the object of worship. Our prayers should begin by worshipping God, glorifying Him as an act of adoration. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
The second element is petition in which our attention is turned towards our own needs; Give us this day our daily bread. The provision of our needs is an ongoing responsibility of God once you have placed yourself in His hands. He accomplishes this through His Son as the Messenger. He sent this son, as messenger or angel, to the Patriarchs as the Elohim of Israel (Gen. 48:13-16). Thus the clear view of Israel was that the Angel was the elohim, or god who had blessed him and fed him all the days of his life. This angel also redeemed him from evil. For the righteous the promise is given that their bread and water shall be sure (Ps. 37:25; Isa. 33:15-16).
The third element of prayer is forgiveness for transgression. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. Forgiveness is the central issue in our relationship with God. The requirement for forgiveness arises out of offence. Others offend us as we also offend God through disobedience to His laws. Offence to others arises out of the breach of God’s laws. David could say to God that against Him only had he sinned (Ps. 51:1-4).
The essential aspect to be borne in mind is that transgression against a neighbour is trespass against God. As we forgive others, so are we forgiven. Unforgiving attitudes towards others result in the individual being dealt with by God. Unless we first establish a relationship with God there will be no answer to our petitions and no power in our prayers of intercession for others.
We should not be discouraged in faith. Jesus said in Luke 18:1 that men ought always to pray and not lose heart. Paul urged in 1Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing. Discouragement is the greatest weapon of the adversary.
Hindrances to prayer
If there is unconfessed sin, God will not hear us (Isa. 59:2; Ps. 66:18; Pro. 15:8).
An unforgiving spirit against a brother hinders the answer to prayer (Mat. 5:23-24; Mk. 11:25). The problem with forgiveness is often self-righteousness. At other times it is wounded pride. We should examine our attitudes and look at our relationship with God. Luke 18:10-14 shows the problem of self-righteousness in the eyes of God. This is the most prevalent sin in the Churches of God in the twentieth century. It is in fact the hallmark of the Laodicean Church (Rev. 3:14-22). The poorness was in the Spirit. The gold refined in the fire was the Holy Spirit. This Church thought that it was rich in the Spirit, but it was wretched. It was spewed out of God’s mouth. Very few of that Church were justified and given a part in the Kingdom.
Lack of faith is another reason for the failure of prayer (Jas 1:6-7; Heb. 11:6). To know what God promises, we need to study the Bible. We should believe God is going to answer our prayer, and begin thanking him for it in advance
An inconsistent home life will cause prayers to go unanswered or to be hindered (1Pet. 3:7).
We ask amiss (Jas. 4:2-3). We can become selfish in our prayers when we concentrate too much on our own needs.
We are called upon to follow in Jesus' footsteps. So when we pray we ask in his name (Jn. 14:13-14, 15:7). To achieve this position we must obey the commandments (Jn. 15:10). What we do is a reflection of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The retention of the Spirit is predicated upon obedience to the commandments (1Jn. 3:21-24; Pro. 28:9).
We must pray to the right God (1Cor. 8:5-6). This text shows clearly the numerical divisions of the elohim or theoi. The terms theoi and kurioi for gods and lords refer to the Host. The text shows us that Christ is given to us as Lord under the One True God (Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20).
If you ask God to help the poor and keep your own purse closed you are a hypocrite (Jas. 2:14-16). If we are in a position to provide and do not, it is no use praying to God.
We must repent of sins and change (Isa. 55:6-7). God has promised to answer the prayer of the righteous (Pr. 10:24, 15:8; Jas. 5:16).
We should pray for:
Thanksgiving: (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2). We should recognise God as the source of our blessings and we need to thank him.
Pray for each other: (Eph. 6:18-19; Rom. 15:30). Pray for our leaders: (1Tim. 2:1-2). Pray for our enemies: (Lk. 6:28).
When we do not know what to pray for we are given assistance (Rom. 8:26-27).
If prayers remain unanswered keep on praying (Lk. 11:9-10, 18:1-8). It is not wrong to reason with God. In fact God urges "Come now and let us reason together" (Isa. 1:18).
Thy will be done
It was God's will that Jesus suffered humiliation and death. We are called upon to follow in Jesus' footsteps so we know it is not God's will to spare us all hardship. Our prayers should be in harmony with the will of our God.
God can be moved by prayers offered with feeling and respect. In other words we need to pray fervently. We are not alone in our struggle. God holds all power and has all knowledge. He is ready and willing to help us live the Christian life (Isa. 66:2). God is looking for a humble attitude and wants our prayers to be heartfelt.
Prayer is not a matter of forcing God to do the things we ask, but coming to God in absolute faith that what we need will be given us. God answers believing prayer but not always in the way we desire. He knows best what our daily needs are, our spiritual needs being more important than the material. We need to recognize the great privilege it is to come into the very presence of Almighty God in prayer.
We know we should pray because in Matthew 6:7 Jesus said "But when you pray" not if you pray. Thus, by praying we acknowledge our dependency on a source outside ourselves - a higher power. We make God a part of us, which is the plan. God thus becomes all in all (1Cor. 15:28; Eph. 1:23).