By Leonard S. Tyler
Prayer is much neglected, I believe, because it is much misunderstood. There are many aspects of prayer one cannot understand just as in all of God’s dealing with man. Notwithstanding, prayer is a part of the life of a Christian.
There are many false concepts of prayer. Some feel that since miracles have ceased no good can come from prayer. They forget that God operates through natural laws both spiritual and physical. This is God’s way of performing His own will as He designed it. Who can deny it? Prayer must be in accord with the will of God and faith is essential for effective prayer (Jas. 1:6; Matt. 21:22).
An expression from Brother E.A. Elam is as fresh and timely now as when it was first read in 1928:
The men and women named in the Old Testament as the most reverential, having the profoundest respect for the word of God, having made the greatest advancement in spirituality and the knowledge of the truth, and the most suited to serve God’s purpose in advancing his cause were the most prayerful – Moses and Samuel, for instance (Jer. 15:1); also Noah, Job, and Daniel (Ezek. 14:14).
So it is in the New Testament, and so it is now. The ones most advanced in real piety, in grace and godliness, and in the knowledge of the truth, are the most sincerely prayerful.
Paul, the most self-sacrificing and heroic and the one who accomplished the most in planting and building up churches, was also the most diligent in following his own inspired admonition: “Pray without ceasing.” Without incessant prayer he could not have exercised so great self-control, have so advanced as he did in personal holiness, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5), and could not have reached the grand consummation described in II Timothy 4:6-8 . . . .
One of the first things said of Paul after he ceased to persecute Jesus was, “For, behold, he prayeth;” and his last recorded utterance is a prayer for Timothy: “The Lord be with thy spirit. Grace be with you.”
It is most instructive, and therefore helpful, to study all the recorded prayers, not only of Paul, but of all godly men and women of the Bible.
Not one of these many prayers, offered under different circumstances and at different times, was a collection of set phases and formal words, but an expression of the full desire of the soul and directly to the point.
Prayers addressed to God are not filled with empty, useless words, but are pointed and usually short.
Every one who prays would like to think the prayers will be answered; hence, one wants to know how to offer prayers acceptable to God. So there can be nothing so instructive as to study the prayers which have pleased God and have been answered (Elam’s Notes on Bible School Lessons 1928, pp. 316-17).
Some hold that any request which was made in the first century was for.. a miraculous manifestation of God in its fulfilment. this is not the way it was. When Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24)3 He was not asking that without faith and obedience these would be saved. It must have been then, that He prayed -that they might come to believe, obey and be saved. When Paul prayed for Israel that they might be saved, he surely did not pray that God would save them contrary to His will nor miraculously. He, it seems to me, was praying that Israel might come to understand, believe, obey and be saved. Yet both the Lord and Paul prayed for sinners. So all prayers were not for miraculous fulfilment.
Christians are taught to pray. Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Jesus taught men always to pray, and not to faint (Luke 18:1). Some will counter, “If these texts are for us, how are we going to pray without ceasing or always?” The answer is clear -just as the first century Christian did. We should thank God for the privilege of prayer and pray.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 6, pp. 98
February 7, 1980