Prayer is such an important part of a believer's life and a subject that the Word of God covers in such detail that I felt it was important to present it as a foundational teaching on these web pages. The following is meant as an outline for study and practice. It is important that you take the information that follows and work through it on your own with a good concordance if you really want to understand the richness of God's Word on the subject of prayer.
I Timothy 2:1
I exhort therefore, that , first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
These four (supplications,
prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks)
are each important aspects of prayer that need to be understood and practiced
in a believer's prayer life.
The Greek word for prayer is the word proseuche. Proseuche means to pour out the soul. Prayer is a pouring out of your soul to God. All of the other aspects of prayer are a part of this one. Whether you are making intercession, making a request or supplication, giving thanks for God's blessings upon your life, praising God, or just telling God about something, you are pouring out your soul to God.
I Corinthians 14:15a
What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also;. .
For believers after the day of Pentecost there are two ways to pray: with the spirit and with the understanding. To pray with the spirit is to speak in tongues. To pray with the understanding is to pour out your soul to God. Both are important aspects of a believer's prayer life. Speaking in tongues is covered in detail on my speaking in tongues pages and will not be the focus of this presentation on prayer.
Jesus Christ taught his disciples about (proseuche) prayer:
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.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to the Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Most of the time when you pour out your soul to God it is a very private and personal thing - just you and God. If you are praying to show others how religious you are - you have your reward.
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
Jesus Christ made it a habit to get up early, get away to a solitary place and pour out his soul to God. We too should find a time when we can get alone with God each day and pray.
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Praying together with other believers is also very important.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven . . .
When you pour out your soul to God you are not reciting a rote prayer or rosary. Your prayer then becomes a vain repetition that means nothing. It is interesting that in this context Jesus Christ gave them an example of a simple prayer request to God that has become a rote prayer used by most of the Christian churches today. He was telling them not to make vain repetitious prayers and we have taken his simple example and turned it into a vain repetitious prayer. Just keep it simple. You don't have to repeat some rote prayer to be heard by God.
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.
It is important that we continue in prayer and not quit when our answer does not come immediately. This is not to say use vain repetitions. Just don't give up. If you know that what you are asking will glorify God - keep asking until you get your answer. George Mueller was a man of God who lived his life relying upon prayer. Following are some of his words:
The Greek word for supplication is the word deesis. Deesis is a petition or a request. Sometimes when you pour out your soul to God you will be making a request of God.
It is important to note (especially for those with backgrounds in the Word similar to mine), and I will mention it again later, that when you make a request of God you do not cloak it in thanksgiving. At times we get into habits and patterns of speaking that become rote or routine and sometimes lack thought. I would not approach you with a need or a request and thank you for giving it to me before you had agreed to give. I would not come to you and say: "Thanks for giving me ten dollars." Yet some of us do that to God. We cannot and should not try by our prayers to direct God. We by our prayers talk with Him. We let Him know our needs. We ask for help. I would approach you with my need more like: "Friend, I have a need. I need ten dollars for such and such. Do you think you could help me with my need?" If you agreed and then gave me ten dollars I would then be thankful and tell you so. To approach God, thanking Him for giving you something that He has not given you yet, is presumptuous and lacks humility. There is an important place for thanksgiving in all of our prayers, but this is not the place. Thanksgiving is for that which God has already done for you, not for what He may do as a result of your prayer.
But the angel said unto him, Fear not Zacharias: for thy prayer [deesis] is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
Sometimes our prayers are requests. Zacharias requested a son and became the father of John the Baptist.
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer [deesis] to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Paul's request to God for Israel - that they might be saved.
Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in everything by prayer [proseuche] and supplication [deesis] with thanksgiving [eucharistia] let your requests be made known unto God.
We thank God for the things He has graciously
given us, we pour out our soul to Him and let our requests be made known.
The Greek word for intercession is enteuxis. Enteuxis means an exchange of information as an interview. Sometimes when we pour out our soul to God we exchange information with God. It is NOT a one way conversation. Intercession also involves making a request on the behalf of another. When we make intercession to God we exchange information which may include a request on the behalf of another. Once again, this is not the place for thanksgiving. When I tell you about a situation and ask for your help I do not start out by thanking you. If you agree to help and supply support then I thank you.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Intercession is a vital part of our prayer life. We ask in the behalf of others. Intercession also is characterized by a dialog between the believer praying and God. It is a two way conversation. The spirit of God in a believer in communication with God via speaking in tongues is the most effective intercession for other believers.
Who is he that condemneth? It is [Shall] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Jesus Christ sits today at the right hand of God and makes intercession
for us. He is the mediator between God and man. Intercession
involves making request on the behalf of others as well as a dialog between
two - in this case Jesus Christ and God.
The Greek word for giving of thanks is eucharistia. Eucharistia means to have gratitude to God for His grace toward you. Sometimes when we pour out our soul to God we thank Him for that which He has already done for us or given to us. The Word of God indicates that all prayer should include thanksgiving. This does not mean that we thank God for doing something for us that He has not yet done. The Word of God is filled with blessings which God has already bestowed upon believers. We need to be thankful for that which God has already given us and done for us. And when our prayer requests are answered we should thank Him.
II Corinthians 4:15
For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
We thank God for the abundance of grace that He supplies as we believe His Word.
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
Thanksgiving is an important part of our all of our prayers.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Another important aspect of prayer is that we pray to God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 14:16-17
Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
Praying by speaking in tongues is "giving of
thanks well." You can also thank God in your prayers with the understanding.
Be ye thankful!