Prayers in the Bible
Jesus uses a couple of parables to teach us important lessons about prayer, specifically that we should be persistent and insistent in our prayer life. And while these approaches may be counter-intuitive, the Lord wants us to engraft them into our regular prayer life.
Theologian Charles Hodge teaches us that for an effective prayer life, we should have our minds focused and understand that prayer is a means of grace. He encourages us to build important fundamentals into our prayer life so that we might realize more of God’s power through prayer.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, known as the “Prince of Preachers” was also a persistent “pray-er.” One of the keys to his passion for prayer and the power he experienced in prayer was his private communion with God. Spurgeon reflects David’s own intimate communion with the LORD as seen in Psalm 63. There are valuable prayer lessons to glean from both the King of Israel and the Prince of Preachers.
David waited on the Lord in prayer; Paul taught that we should pray continually. With these teachings in mind, Matthew Henry guides us through ways to maintain an attitude of prayer throughout each day.
The Puritan theologian, John Owen, teaches believers that there is available to us special help from the Holy Spirit when we pray. This Spirit-energized help makes prayer, which is our duty, also our delight.
Jonathan Edwards, the leading pastor-theologian of the First Great Awakening, teaches us that prayer is an essential ingredient for the revival of believers and the conversion of the lost in expanding the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. He exhorts us to be eager and determined in our prayer lives as we seek God and the increase of his kingdom.
An important part of the Bible’s instruction on prayer comes from our Lord himself when he said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name…” (John 14:14). But what did Jesus mean by praying in his name? The Westminster Confession and Catechisms, our own denomination’s doctrinal standards, have a very practical section on prayer (more so than many other major reformed standards from the Reformation). We’ll look at what the Westminster standards teach us about prayer, specifically what it means to pray in the name of Christ.
It is too easy for believers to fall into formalism when we pray, either praying the same things all the time or praying without heart-felt sincerity. John Bunyan, the renowned author of Pilgrim’s Progress, gives us a cure for formalism in our prayer life.
The early church father Augustine was one of the most influential theologians in the centuries after the apostles passed from the scene. One of his letters still exists in which he gives advice to a widow on the type of person she should be to pray and the types of things she should pray for. Using Augustine’s scripturally based advice, we will see how we can be more biblical in our own prayer life.
Despite his imprisonment, Paul taught the Ephesian church that he rejoiced that in Christ Jews and Gentiles have been united, and that they now enjoy peace that followed from this union. He gladly prays for these unified Christians that they would have Spirit-energized power to know Christ’s love, with the ultimate goal that they will be filled with the fullness of God. Paul’s prayer for power in our inner being is instructive for our prayer lives today.