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In Luke 11:1 Jesus' disciples asked, "Lord, teach us to pray." The purpose of this study is to help Christians improve their praying.
Everyone needs to learn more about prayer. People who are new in the faith may have never studied about how to pray. Some members do not pray properly, so their prayers are not even answered. Even faithful Christians can improve.
What is prayer? Note Acts 4:24,31. Prayer is simply man talking to God (Romans 10:1; Matthew 6:9ff). It is a form of communication similar in many ways to simply talking to any other person, except we must remember we are addressing God and must meet conditions of acceptable prayer.
What should we include in prayer? Some cannot think of much to say. Others say things that are inappropriate or even unscriptural. Some just repeat memorized phrases they have heard from others.
Let us compare Bible examples of prayer to our own prayers and see if we can improve.
Bible prayers commonly included many descriptions of the glory and greatness of God. Jesus began the model prayer by praising God's name (Matthew 6:9). Many psalms are filled with praise.
For each passage below, we have listed some of the qualities or works of God that were praised. For each quality or work, you should list in the blank the number of the verse where it is praised. (Note: These questions are not multiple choice. We have done the first one to show you how it is done.)
>>> Please read Psalm 86:5-12. <<<
*Sample* (a) Merciful -- Verse 5 (b) Does wondrous things -- Verse 10; (c) Forgiving -- Verse 5.
>>> Please read 1 Chronicles 29:10-13. <<<
*1,2&3* (a) Reigns over all -- Verse ______; (b) Everything in heaven and earth is His -- Verse ______; (c) Gives strength to all -- Verse ______.
>>> Please read Jeremiah 32:16-22. <<<
*4,5&6* (a) Brought Israel out of Egypt -- Verse ______; (b) Made heavens and earth -- Verse ______; (c) Rewards people according to their ways -- Verse ______.
We could never list all the great qualities and works for which God deserves our praise.
Think: Would our prayers improve if, instead of thinking of more things for God to give us, we would place greater emphasis on describing His greatness?
(See also Psalm 90:1-4; Neh. 9:4-8; Gen. 18:25; 1 Sam. 2:1-10; 2 Sam. 7:22,23; 1 Kings 8:23-30; 2 Kings 19:15; Ezra 9:8,9; Neh. 1:5; Job 42:1,2; Psalm 143:1-12; 17:7; 90:7-11; 102:1,12,24-27; Matt. 6:13; Luke 2:37,38; Acts 4:24; Eph. 1:16-19; Col. 1:12-14; Rev 11:17.)
Bible prayers are filled with requests and thanksgiving for people other than the one offering the prayer. How often do we think to pray for others, whether or not they request our prayers?
In the passages listed below, note the various different kinds of people that other people prayed for.
>>> Please read 1 Timothy 2:1,2. <<<
*7* For whom should we pray? (a) ourselves, (b) kings or rulers, (c) the sick, (d) poor people. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read 1 Chronicles 29:19. <<<
*8* For whom did King David pray? Answer: He prayed for Solomon, who was David's ______.
>>> Please read Romans 10:1-3. <<<
*9* Why did Paul pray for Israel? Answer: Paul's prayer for Israel was that they might be ______.
>>> Please read Luke 6:27,28. <<<
*10* For whom should we pray? (a) family members, (b) people who mistreat us (enemies), (c) sick people, (d) church members. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read Ephesians 6:18-20. <<<
*11* Why did Paul want Christians to pray for him? Answer: He wanted prayer so he could boldly make known the mystery of the ______.
>>> Please read Colossians 1:3,9-14. <<<
*12* For whom did Paul pray? (a) his family, (b) church elders, (c) the Christians to whom he was writing, (d) the Pope. Answer: ______.
(Cf. Ezra 6:10; 1 Chron. 29:19; Matt. 19:13-15; Gen. 25:21,22; 24:12-14; 18:23-33; 1 Sam. 1:10-12; Matt. 9:36-38; Luke 23:34; 22:31,32; Acts 7:60; Luke 23:34; Col. 4:3,4; Acts 4:25-29; 6:6; 14:23; 1 Thess. 5:25; Matt. 9:36-38; John 17:9-22; Acts 8:24; Rom. 1:9-12; Eph. 1:15-19; Phil. 1:3-11; 1 Thess. 1:2; 2 Thess. 1:11,12; 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:3; Num. 11:2; 21:7; 14:13-20; Deut. 9:18-20,25-29; Ex. 32:9-14,31,32; 1 Sam. 7:5-11.)
Surely we can pray for things we need, yet many examples involve prayer for other specific individuals or congregations. Do we show this personal concern for others in our prayers?
Note also that Paul openly told people he was praying for them. This practice would motivate us to be more diligent to pray for others and would give Christians a greater sense of love and appreciation for one another.
We should pray for what we truly need, but we should also remember to thank God for what we have received.
Consider the passages below that show we can ask God to meet our needs or should thank Him for what He has given.
>>> Please read Philippians 4:6,7. <<<
*13* Instead of worrying, what should be do? (a) give thanks, (b) let our requests be made known to God, (c) both of the preceding. Answer: ______.
Note: A "supplication" is a request for needs to be "supplied."
>>> Please read Matthew 7:7-11. <<<
*14* God's answers to prayer are compared to what? Answer: They are like a father who gives good gifts to his ______.
>>> Please read Ephesians 5:20. <<<
*15* For what should we give thanks to God? Answer: We should give thanks for ______.
We should cast our cares on God, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Bible prayers include thanksgiving right alongside requests. God invites us to ask for what we need, but He is displeased when we are so ungrateful as to offer no thanks when the request is granted.
(Cf. 1 John 5:14,15; 3:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:1; John 14:13,14; 15:7,16; 16:23,24,26; Luke 17:12-17; 1 Thess. 5:18; Col. 4:2; 2:7; 3:17.)
No one prayer could mention everything there is to pray about, but Bible prayers teach us many specific things to mention. We may pray about these things for ourselves or for others. We may make requests and then give thanks for God's blessings.
Each passage below identifies some things we should pray about.
>>> Please read Matthew 6:9-13. <<<
*16,17,18&19* For each specific thing we should pray about, you should list in the blank the number of the verse where it is mentioned:
(a) Forgiveness of sins -- Verse ______; (b) Our daily bread -- Verse ______; (c) God's will to be done on earth -- Verse ______; (d) Deliverance from evil -- Verse ______.
>>> Please read Acts 12:1,5,12. <<<
*20&21* For whom was the church praying and why? Answer: They prayed for ______ because he was in the ______.
>>> Please read 1 Timothy 2:1,2. <<<
*22&23* We should pray for kings and rulers for what purpose? Answer: We pray that we might lead a ______ and ______ life.
>>> Please read Psalm 141:1-3. <<<
*24* What did David pray for God to do for him? (a) guard his mouth (speech), (b) give him wisdom, (c) send him money. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read Matthew 9:36-38; Colossians 4:3. <<<
*25&26* We should pray for the teaching of God's word because it needs what? Answer: Laborers for the ______ and an open _____ for God's word to be spoken.
>>> Please read John 17:20-23. <<<
*27* Jesus prayed that His disciples might be what? (a) richer than other people, (b) one as He and His Father are one, (c) a political majority, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read Colossians 1:9-11. <<<
*28,29,30&31* For each specific thing we should pray about, you should list on the answer sheet the number of the verse where it is mentioned:
(a) Strength and might -- Verse ______; (b) Pleasing to God -- Verse ______; (c) Filled with knowledge -- Verse ______; (d) Fruitful in every good work -- Verse ______.
Note how Bible prayers often concerned spiritual needs and blessings. Some people seem to pray as if they are sending a "Christmas list" to Santa for all the physical things they want. Biblical prayers may concern physical needs, but very often they emphasized man's spiritual needs.
How do our prayers compare to Bible prayers? Are there areas where we need to improve?
(See also Psalm 119:169-172; 1 Kings 8:33-53; Neh. 1:8-11; Matt. 15:36; 26:26-29; 26:36-46; John 17:9-12,17; Acts 4:23-31; 8:22,24; 14:23; 20:36-38; 26:41; 27:35; 28:15; Eph. 3:14-19; 2 Cor. 1:8-11; 4:15; 12:7-10; 13:7; Phil. 1:3-6,9-11; 4:6,7; 2 Thess. 3:1,2; James 1:5,6; 5:16.)
Should we pray publicly, privately, in church meetings, as daily routine, or spontaneously? What posture must we use?
Note what these passages say about where and how often people should pray.
>>> Please read Acts 2:42. <<<
*32* What expression shows how regularly the disciples prayed? (a) once a week, (b) occasionally, (c) steadfastly, (d) never. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read 1 Timothy 2:8. <<<
*33* Where should men pray? Answer: Men should pray ______.
>>> Please read 1 Thessalonians 5:17,18. <<<
*34* How diligent should we be in prayer? Answer: We should pray ______.
Think: Do these verses mean we should pray 24 hours a day, seven days a week? If so, when would we do other good works God has commanded? (Luke 11:1)
Prayer should be a regular, frequent part of our daily lives, and we should never quit or cease the practice of prayer. Further, we should never participate in any practice such that we would be ashamed to pray to God in the midst of that activity.
(See Eph. 1:16; 5:20; 6:18; Col. 1:3,9; 2:7; 3:17; 4:2,12; Luke 18:1-7; Rom. 12:12; Acts 6:4; 1:14; Phil. 1:4; 4:6; 1 Cor. 1:4; 2 Thess. 1:3,11; 2:13.)
Note what these examples say about when and where people prayed:
>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 14:15. <<<
*35* Where did the prayer and singing in this passage occur (note vv 19,23,26)? (a) at home, (b) in the temple, (c) in church assemblies. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read Matthew 6:6. <<<
*36* Where did Jesus say we should pray? Answer: We should pray in our ______.
>>> Please read Mark 1:35. <<<
*37* When and where did Jesus pray? Answer: He prayed before daybreak (in the early morning) in a ______ place.
>>> Please read Acts 27:35. <<<
*38* When did Paul pray in this example? (a) when he went to bed, (b) before a meal, (c) when he was seriously ill, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read Psalm 55:16,17. <<<
*39* When did the Psalmist pray? (a) evening, (b) morning, (c) at noon, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read Daniel 6:10,11. <<<
*40* How often did Daniel pray? Answer: Daniel prayed (give a number) ______ times a day.
We should pray in private but also in public worship assemblies. We should not pray to make a show before others, but we should not be ashamed to pray when others are present (cf. Acts 27:35). We should pray habitually throughout the day but also at special times when needs arise.
Do we pray like faithful people in the Bible prayed?
(See also Matt. 14:23; Deut. 9:18,25,26; 1 Kings 8:22; 2 Kings 20:1-3; Ezra 9:4,5ff; Neh. 9:1-5; Psalm 5:3; 88:1,13; Dan. 6:10,11; Matt. 15:36; 14:19; 26:36-46; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; 9:18; 24:30; Acts 10:9; 12:5,12; 20:36; 1 Thess. 3:9,10; 1 Tim. 5:5.)
May we stand for prayer or only kneel or sit? Must we speak out loud for God to hear us? Must we fold our hands, bow our heads, and close our eyes? Notice what these Bible examples say about position.
>>> Please read Nehemiah 1:4. <<<
*41* In what position was Nehemiah when he prayed? (a) sitting, (b) standing, (c) kneeling, (d) lying down. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read Luke 22:41. <<<
*42* How is Jesus' position described? (a) He stood up, (b) He sat down, (c) He knelt down. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read Mark 11:25; Luke 18:13,14. <<<
*43* These people's prayers were heard though they were in what position? (a) kneeling, (b) standing, (c) sitting, (d) lying down. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read 1 Chronicles 29:20. <<<
*44* What did these people do when they prayed? (a) lifted up their hands to God, (b) played on instruments of music, (c) bowed their heads and prostrated themselves, (d) bowed before statues of Mary. Answer: ______.
>>> Please read John 17:1. <<<
*45* What did Jesus do when He prayed? Answer: Jesus looked toward ______.
>>> Please read 1 Sam. 1:12,13. <<<
*46* What was noteworthy about Hannah's prayer? (a) she prayed to Baal, (b) she asked God for a new house, (c) she prayed once a year at Easter, (d) she did not speak out loud. Answer: ______.
Think: What can we learn from the variety in these examples? Does the position we are in determine whether or not God hears us?
(See also Gen. 24:12,13,27,48; Ex. 4:31; 12:27; 34:8,9; 1 Sam. 1:26; 2 Sam. 7:18; 1 Kings 19:4; Neh. 8:6; 9:4,5ff; Matt. 14:19; 26:39; John 11:41; Acts 9:40; 20:36; 21:5.)
(This study will be continued in our next lesson.)
(These questions are for you to ponder. Your answers will help us understand your thinking, however they will not affect your "score.")
*47* Has this lesson challenged you to improve your prayers? __________
*48* What topic(s) in this study was/were the most helpful to you personally? __________
*49* Were you challenged by the number of Bible examples of prayer? __________
(C) Copyright David E. Pratte, 1999 (click for copyright information)
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