By Ron Halbrook
For the truth’s sake, the children of God call upon their Father constantly. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were men of prayer, and men of faith (Heb. 11). The fire of suffering refined the faith of Job, a man noted for prayer (1:20-21; 42:1-6). In fact, God instructed Job’s friends’ who had spoken so bitterly against him in his suffering, to worship along with Job that he might pray for them – “for him will I accept” (42:8). The Psalms reflect the place of prayer in every phase of life, in success and failure, in the presence of friends and enemies. David prayed to God during the illness of his child born of adultery, hoping that his son’s life might be spared; when his son died, David still continued in worship and prayer, manifesting faith rather than bitterness (2 Sam. 12:15-20). The Son of God was transfigured “as he prayed” on a mountain top, and sweated “as it were great drops of blood” in prayer on the edge of the great valley of death (Lk. 9:28-29; 22:44). We need God. every hour and need to call upon Him every day.
The followers of Christ during His earthly ministry asked, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Lk. 11:1). Jesus said that they should pray “after this manner”:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matt. 6:9-13).
In this model, we find praise for the greatness of God, a recognition of our own humble existence; prayer for the progress of the Father’s will and kingdom; request for the material things which sustain life, in recognition of our absolute dependence upon God; acknowledgment of our sins in prayer for forgiveness; and, supplication for Divine aid in resisting temptation and escaping the snares set by Satan. Daily prayer draws us close to God, increasing our love for Him as we are constantly reminded that “we live, and move, and have our being” by His grace (Acts 17:28).
From the very start of the church, Christians prayed in their public assemblies – “they continued steadfastly . . . in prayer” (Acts 2:42). After Peter and John were threatened for preaching the gospel, they reported “to their own company,” who then “lifted up their voice to God with one accord” (4:23-31). The apostles urged the Jerusalem church to select special servants to care for the needy among them, so that the apostles might attend to their own work: “we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (6:4). All saints have the privilege of praying in private, but in mixed company involving the man-woman relationship, the Spirit instructed, “I will therefore that men pray everywhere . . .” (1 Tim. 2:8-15). “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place,” it was forbidden for women to take the lead over the men and women gathered for worship in songs, lessons, and prayers (1 Cor. 14). Public prayer complements, but cannot substitute, for private prayer. Neither public display nor endless repetitions avail with God (Matt. 6:1-7). But constant petitions, both private and public, offered from the hearts of His children avail greatly with God. (Lk. 18:1-8; Jas. 5:16).
If we would be near to the heart of God, let us lay up in our heart the admonition, “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:17-18).
Truth Magazine XXIV: 16, p. 266
April 17, 1980