Discipline of Prayer
I Tim. 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence… 8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting
At its most basic level, prayer is communion with God – in giving of thanks, in supplications (focused on specific needs or problems), in intercessions (on behalf of another person), in expressing devotion, penitence, glory and honor to Him, in acknowledging His will and purpose, and in conforming ours to His. Maybe our aim is not always for a specific request, but just to be able to talk to our Father, who is our friend. Sometimes in personal prayer, these things are expressed verbally, but often they may be in our hearts and minds, though not actually spoken. So private prayer at its simplest might be viewed as “thinking toward God” – communicating, communing with Him as we go about our daily walk.
But in public prayer there are additional considerations. While still offered to God, in public prayers we pray also with our brothers and sisters in mind – leading them, helping them in thinking toward God, in communing with God. We may also be praying on their behalf. It is part of our opportunity to edify one another in the honoring of our great God.
Here are some thoughts from the class in our study:
- God speaks to us in his Word; but in our songs and our prayers we are lifting our hearts TOGETHER to commune with Him.
- First we should approach God in reverence, giving glory, honor, praise (“Hallowed be thy name”).
- Humility and sincerity are so fitting and necessary in our approach to God, and they also help our brothers and sisters to identify with the one praying.
- “Lift up holy hands” – not so much emphasizing the position when we pray, but more the character of our hearts and lives; in our assemblies, what damage can be done, and what blessings are missed, when we have prayers recited by men who do not strive to honor God in their lives.
- Awareness of spiritual needs and praying for spiritual growth should take a greater focus. Concerns for our health, our wealth, our comfort, our “happiness” in the world often dominate our prayers. Do we often ask God to give us these things, just so we can go on with our comfortable lives, enjoying earthly things, with no attention to our spirits?
- Sometimes we should exceed our comfort level a bit to express ideas that we know are Biblical, but maybe are not part of our vocabulary or our manner of speaking.
- There are times when we don’t know exactly how to pray. Maybe we don’t know what’s best to ask for. Maybe the pain/pressure we are going through (individually or as a congregation) is so great, it is difficult to focus on anything else. Perhaps we are just shy, and feel we have trouble expressing what is in our hearts in an adequate way. But God knows our hearts, and His Spirit intercedes on our behalf.
- Prayer is a matter of faith (trust, submission, or surrender to the will of God) – James 1:5-7. Commune with our Father knowing that He is faithful. He is anxious to supply all we need to walk with Him. His Son is our brother AND our high priest – having lived beside us and gone before us. SO WE CAN BOLDLY ENTER THE MOST HOLY PLACE!
- In our public prayers, the leader should lead us TOGETHER in humility to communicate with our Holy Father!