of prayer has been practised from time immemorial and
is evident in all cultures. It appears to be instinctive, as evidenced by the
tendency of people—Christians and non-Christians alike—to appeal to a higher power
in times of crisis. It shows that mankind once had a close relationship with
the one true God, before sin intervened to create a dividing wall, and before
man lost his way by creating false gods and idols (Rom 1:21–23).
Christians, prayer is the channel of communication with God. The Bible likens
it to an offering of incense or a sacrifice (Ps 141:2; Rev 5:8).
Q2 What can we pray for?
pray for anything, as long as it does not go against the glory of God or the
welfare of others (Jn 14:13–14; 15:16–17). Apostle Paul encourages us, saying,
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with
thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).
Q3 Are there prayers that we can learn from?
many notable prayers in the Bible, including:
prayer for deliverance from Esau (Gen 32:11)
prayer for forgiveness on behalf of the Israelites, after they had worshipped
the golden calf (Ex 32:30–32)
Hezekiah’s prayer for healing from a terminal illness (2 Kgs
prayer for Solomon to be endowed with godly fear and the heart to build God’s
temple (1 Chr 29:19)
Elijah’s prayer for rain during a prolonged drought in Israel (Jas
prayer on the cross for the forgiveness of His persecutors (Lk 23:34)
prayer of the 120 disciples for the downpour of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:13–15)
Q4 Is there a prayer that all believers can make?
is the Lord’s Prayer, which is recorded in Matthew 6:9–13:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Q5 Why is this prayer important?
Lord’s Prayer is important because it is a model prayer given to us by Jesus
(Mt 6:9; Lk 11:2). When we reflect upon the words recorded in Matthew 6:9–13,
we gain some important teachings about our relationship with God and the
priorities of life:
• “Our Father in heaven” (v. 9). This opening address reminds us that
we are praying to God, who is our Father in heaven. We call Him “Father”
because we are born of Him (Jn 1:12–13), He adopted us as His children (Gal
4:5; Eph 1:5), and He has poured out the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (Gal
4:6). Hence, we should fear Him: “And if you call on the Father, who without
partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout
the time of your sojourning here in fear” (1 Pet 1:17). The words also remind
us that our true home is in heaven and, for now, we are merely pilgrims in this
world (Heb 11:13–16; 1 Pet 2:11). One day, Jesus will return to take us to our
Father in heaven (Jn 14:2–3; 20:17).
• “Hallowed be Your name” (v. 9). These words teach us to revere God’s
name (Rev 15:4), which is “holy and awesome” (Ps 111:9). Today, believers and
unbelievers alike often profane God’s name: believers do it when they sin and dishonour God (Prov 30:9; 1 Tim 6:1); unbelievers do it
when they blaspheme God’s name, His church and His followers (Rev 13:6).
• “Your kingdom come” (v. 10). Jesus began
His ministry by proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt
4:17; cf. Mk 1:15). Where is God’s kingdom? Firstly, Jesus tells us it “is not
of this world” (Jn 18:36). He says, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within
you” (Lk 17:21). In other words, God’s kingdom is where He rules: it is both in
heaven and within submissive hearts. As Christians, we should pray each day for
God’s kingdom to be revealed and to joyfully anticipate the Lord’s second
coming, when we shall enter that everlasting place (2 Pet 1:11).
• “Your will be done on earth as it is in
heaven” (v. 10). The Bible says that God’s purpose never changes (Heb 6:17)
and that no one can hinder His will (Dan 4:35). Those who help to accomplish
His will are the angels in heaven (Ps 103:20–21) and the believers on earth.
However, because Satan is constantly trying to obstruct His work, and believers
often fail to submit to His will, we need to pray that God’s will be done here
on earth, as it is in heaven. Importantly, we should ask Him to fill us “with
the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col 1:9)
so that we can implement it (Mt 7:21).
• “Give us today our daily bread” (v. 11).
God understands our needs (Mt 6:8, 32). Therefore, when we ask Him for our
daily bread, He will answer us. Moreover, by asking, we acknowledge that
everything comes from Him and that we are sustained by His grace. God says,
“For the world is Mine, and all its fullness” (Ps 50:12).
Asking God to give us our daily bread also reminds us of a number of
important biblical teachings related to Christian living:
seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall
be added to you” (Mt 6:33).
him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give
him who has need” (Eph 4:28).
you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work
with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward
those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing” (1 Thess 4:11–12).
having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim 6:8; cf. Prov
and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and
running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you
use, it will be measured back to you” (Lk 6:38).
is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds
from the mouth of God’ ” (Mt 4:4; cf. Deut 8:3).
* “Do not
labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to
everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father
has set His seal on Him” (Jn 6:27).
• “And forgive us our debts” (v. 12). We all have weaknesses; hence, even
after water baptism, we may still commit wrongs, which can be likened to
accruing debts before God. Elder James points out that merely failing to do
what we know is right constitutes a sin (Jas 4:17). Therefore, he teaches us to
confess our sins before God and to ask for forgiveness (1 Jn 1:7, 9).
Thereafter, we should strive to do the “good works” that God has purposed for
us and to be fruitful (Eph 2:10; Col 1:10; Tit 2:14).
• “As we forgive our debtors” (v. 12). It is the Lord’s will that we forgive
one another (Mt 6:14–15; 18:21–35; Mk 11:25–26). “Therefore, as the elect of
God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness,
longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone
has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must
do” (Col 3:12–13); “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for
‘love will cover a multitude of sins’ ” (1 Pet 4:8).
• “And do not lead us into temptation” (v.
13). The Bible is clear that God
would never tempt us or lead us to sin (Jas 1:13). For this reason, we take
these words to be a request to God to save us from falling into sin (Mt 26:41;
cf. Rom 1:24; Gal 6:1).
In another sense, “temptations”
can refer to the trials of life. We can ask God to protect us amidst life’s
challenges, so that we do not depart from Him or do anything that compromises
our faith. And when we ask, we can be assured of His help: “No temptation has
overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who
will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the
temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”
(1 Cor 10:13).
• “But deliver us from the evil one” (v.
13). There are many reasons to ask
God to deliver us from the evil one, including the latter’s wish to make us
fall. But the devil can only work if we fail to curb our weaknesses: “But each
one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when
desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown,
brings forth death” (Jas 1:14–15). For this reason, we should ask God to
strengthen us, so that we can obey Him, rather than our own desires. In this
way, the devil will have no room to work: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the
devil and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7).
from leading us to sin, the devil may also try to attack us: to harm us
physically or mentally, especially while we are serving God. We can see this
from the life of Paul who had to face relentless persecutions. After being
tried by the authorities on one occasion, he declared, “And I was
delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from
every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom...” (2 Tim 4:17–18).
Hence, he offers us these words of comfort: “But the Lord is faithful, who will
establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thess 3:3).
• “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and
the glory forever” (v. 13). These
concluding words remind us that, as Christians, our citizenship is in heaven
(Phil 3:20). One day, we will reign with the Lord in His kingdom
(2 Tim 2:12; Rev 22:5).
Lord’s Prayer ends with Amen(v. 13), a Greek
word transliterated from Hebrew, meaning “verily” or “so let it be”. In saying
this, we affirm the sincerity of our prayer and ask God to fulfil
Q6 Who should we pray for?
have a responsibility to pray for everyone (1 Tim 2:1): ourselves (2 Cor
12:8–9); our families (e.g. 2 Sam 12:15–17); evangelists (Acts 12:5; Eph
6:19–20; 2 Thess 3:1–2); the sick (Jas 5:14); the demon-possessed (Mt 17:21);
saints (Eph 6:18); sinners (1 Jn 5:16); kings and others in authority (1 Tim
2:2); our enemies (Mt 5:44).
Q7 What can we pray for?
pray for any matter, as long as we seek God’s glory and divine will in the
process (Jn 14:13–14; 1 Jn 5:14). Elder James tells us that we sometimes fail
to receive things because we do not ask, or else, we ask out of wrong or
selfish motives (Jas 4:2–3). What, then, can we ask for?
relation to the church ministry, we can ask God to:
out workers to bring in the harvest (Mt 9:38).
the door for the gospel of salvation (Col 4:3; 2 Thess 3:1).
• give us
courage and eloquence to preach the gospel (Eph 6:19–20).
His work (Hab 3:2).
out His hand to perform signs and wonders (Mk 16:17–18; Acts 4:30).
out His Holy Spirit on the believers (Acts 8:14–17).
In relation to our own faith, we can ask Him to:
us the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13; Jn 4:10; 7:37–39).
strengthen us “with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph 3:16).
us His way (Ps 86:11).
• give us
wisdom and knowledge (Eph 1:17; Jas 1:5).
us to do His will (Ps 143:10).
increase our faith and love (1 Thess 3:12).
• keep us
in His love (Jude 20–21).
Q8 How should we begin our prayer?
begin each prayer by calling upon the name of Jesus. This is because Jesus
says, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be
glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (Jn
14:13–14; cf. 15:16). Therefore, when we pray, we should first say, “In the
name of Jesus, I pray…”
reason for praying in the name of Jesus is because it is God’s name: it was
given by the heavenly Father to the Son (Jn 17:11–12). Therefore, we understand
that Jesus is God Himself—a truth confirmed by Isaiah: “For unto us a Child is
born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And
His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6).
Q9 What makes for an effective prayer?
effective prayer is the result of faith:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for
he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let
not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a
double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
of Hebrews adds, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who
comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder
of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6). Also, Jesus offers us this
encouragement: “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray,
believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mk 11:24).
the Bible shows that God answers the prayers of those who are righteous (Jas
5:16); humble and penitent (Lk 18:13–14); pure in heart (Mt 5:8; 2 Tim 2:22);
devout and God-fearing (Acts 10:1–4); sincere (1 Sam 1:10–18); careful to keep
His commandments (Lk 1:6, 13).
does God not always answer our prayers?
John says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask
anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 Jn 5:14). From these words, we
understand that one possible reason for unanswered prayers is their
non-compliance with God’s will. In the Bible, we see such examples: Paul asked
the Lord on three occasions to remove “a thorn in the flesh…a messenger of
Satan” (2 Cor 12:7–8), but God chose not to answer his prayer in order to keep
him from pride and conceit (2 Cor 12:7–8); Moses asked God to let him cross the
Jordan to see Canaan, but God would not permit it on account of his earlier
disobedience (Deut 3:25–27; Num 20:12; 27:12–14).
reasons for unanswered prayers may include God’s timing (Eccl 3:1) and His
desire to train up our faith (Lk 18:1; Rom 12:12). Furthermore, the Bible
reminds us to keep watch over the condition of our heart, for God may reject
our prayers if we fail to address certain shortcomings:
Insincerity (Mt 15:8–9)
Hypocrisy (Mt 6:5)
and self-righteousness (Job 35:12; Lk 18:9–14)
• Lack of
forgiveness (Mt 5:23–24; 6:14–15)
motives (Jas 4:3)
• Sin and
unrighteousness (Ps 66:18; Jn 9:31; 1 Pet 3:12)
do people pray?
Bible, we see people praying in different ways: sitting down (2 Sam 7:18);
standing (Lk 18:13); kneeling (Acts 20:36); falling prostrate (Mt 26:39); with
hands lifted (1 Tim 2:8); looking up to heaven (Jn 11:41); with raised voice
(Ezek 11:13; Acts 4:24); in silence (1 Sam 1:13); with tears (Heb 5:7); beating
the breast (Lk 18:13); with joy (Lk 10:21). Whichever way we pray, it is
important that we are motivated by sincerity and devotion to God. Jesus says,
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn
What is the purpose of fasting prayers?
are for those occasions when we need to devote ourselves to prayer. They enable
us to humble ourselves and focus on God (Ps 35:13). People fast and pray for
different reasons: to petition God for help in the face of difficulties; to ask
for power to do His work; to repent and ask for forgiveness. Before Jesus
started His ministry, He fasted for forty days and nights (Lk 4:1–2). The
outcome was that He was able to overcome the temptations of the devil and was
empowered by the Holy Spirit to take up the work entrusted to Him by the
heavenly Father (Lk 4:13–14).
What words can we use when we pray?
pray in two ways: with words of understanding or with spiritual tongues. Paul,
who was able to pray in both these ways, said, “I will pray with the spirit,
and I will also pray with the understanding” (1 Cor 14:15). Here, “pray[ing] with the spirit” refers to prayers offered up in
tongues—speaking mysteries through the Holy Spirit for self-edification (1 Cor
14:2, 4); while “pray[ing] with the understanding”
refers to prayers made in understandable words.
important purpose of prayer is to praise God, and the Bible gives us a
wonderful word to use: Hallelujah, which means “Praise
God”. In Revelation 19:1–6, a great multitude praises God with Hallelujahs, creating a sound like that of many waters and mighty thunderings.
pray to God in words of understanding, we should be mindful of Jesus’ advice:
“But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they
think that they will be heard for their many words” (Mt 6:7). His words remind
us to pay attention to what we say because God sees into our heart.
What are the right conditions for prayer?
helpful to set aside a time and place for prayer. Firstly, we need to find
somewhere quiet so that we can concentrate. We note that Jesus did exactly
this: He habitually withdrew into the wilderness to pray (Lk 5:16). The purpose
of a peaceful environment is to create the right conditions within our heart,
such as inner quietness and devotion. Secondly, we should endeavour
to pray at least three times a day (Ps 55:17; Dan 6:10). But, where necessary,
we can pray anywhere—a silent prayer on the way to work or college, or a short
prayer when we need God’s guidance, or simply to give thanks.
Paul encourages us to pray in the Spirit: “Praying always with all prayer and
supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance
and supplication for all the saints” (Eph 6:18). When we pray in the Spirit, He
intercedes for us in spiritual tongues that transcend the limitations of the
human language: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do
not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes
intercession for us with groanings which cannot be
uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is,
because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom
8:26–27). In short, when we pray in tongues, we have the confidence that the
Holy Spirit will articulate our needs in the most appropriate way before God.
© 2012 True Jesus Church.