A Drive-By Theology of Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13 – “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

The Trinity in Prayer – We pray to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit.

To The Father

Prayer is always to be directed to the Father.  In His hands are all times, kings, and nations (Proverbs 21:1). All good and perfect gifts come down from the Father above (James 1:17). The Father knows how to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). Jesus Himself prayed to the Father (e.g. Luke 22:42). Instructing His disciples to pray, He said to begin praying saying, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Prayer is always directed to the Father in heaven whose will it is that we must pray according to (Romans 8:27).

Through The Son

Of ourselves we would have no right to approach the Father in any way, including in prayer. In the Old Testament, only the high priest was allowed to go into God’s presence in the Holy of Holies in the temple and only once a year. They even tied a rope to his foot in case God killed him on the spot for some uncleanness in him. Approaching the Holy Father whose name is Holy is something that we can only do in the New Testament because of what Christ has done on the cross. When He died, the veil in the temple, which guarded the way into the Holy of Holies, was torn in two (Mark 15:38, Exodus 26:33). This symbolized the fact that now all Christians are priests of God and able to approach the presence of God (Hebrews 9, 1 Peter 2:5, 9). Indeed Christ lives within us, and God has made His abode with man. The role of the Son is to intercede on our behalf so that we can approach the throne of grace to get help in the time of need (Hebrews 4:16). We can even approach God’s holy throne with confidence because of our righteousness in Christ (Hebrews 10:19). Christ, as Romans 8:27 says, searches the hearts and minds of believers to get the mind of the Spirit (we know this is referring to Christ because of v. 34 which explains that Christ’s present ministry is one of intercession). He then carries our requests, in a sense, to God. Jesus is the means by which we have direct access to God. He makes sure that our prayers reach the Father. Just as He made the way for us to have eternity with God in heaven, He too enables our prayers to reach God’s throne. As Jesus says in John 14:13-14, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” This command to ask in His name is repeated again in John 15:16 and John 16:23-24, 26. We pray to the Father in the name of Jesus, through whom alone we have access to the Father in prayer.

By The Holy Spirit

The Spirit, says Romans 8:26, helps us in our weakness because we do not know how to pray as we should. Left to ourselves, even as believers, we need the ministry of the Holy Spirit to be able to know what to pray. This is why it is so important to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit within our hearts. With groanings that are too deep for words, the Spirit expresses the thoughts and intentions of our heart to Christ who offers them to God. The Spirit’s communication transcends words and gets to the true thoughts and intentions of our hearts. We need the Spirit to give us what to pray, to help us to pray, and to adequately express what our words fail to say. The Spirit leads us in our prayers, enables us to pray, and takes the essence of what we are saying to Jesus who gives it to the Father. When we don’t feel like we know what to pray, we are in a good place, for that is when we will actually trust in the Spirit to lead us to what we should say and think.

Reasons for Prayer

1. Prayer is a form of serving God (Luke 2:36-38) and obeying Him.

– We pray because God commands us to pray (Philippians 4:6-7).

– Prayer is exemplified for us by Christ and the early church (Mark 1:35; Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:4; 13:1-3).

If Jesus thought it was worthwhile to pray, we should also. If He needed to pray to remain in the Father’s will, how much more do we need to pray?

2. God intends prayer to be the means of obtaining His solutions in a number of situations.
– We pray in preparation for major decisions (Luke 6:12-13)
– To overcome demonic barriers (Matthew 17:14-21)
– To gather workers for the spiritual harvest (Luke 10:2)
– To gain strength to overcome temptation (Matthew 26:41)

Prayer should not be seen as our means of getting God to do our will on earth, but rather as a means of getting God’s will done on earth. God’s wisdom far exceeds our own.

The Key to Effective Prayer

1. We need to make sure that our prayers are in line with God’s will. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14-15).

2. Prayer is something believers should do “continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In Luke 18:1, for example, we are told to pray with persistence and “not give up.

3. We are to pray with faith (James 1:5; Mark 11:22-24), with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6), with a spirit of forgiveness toward others (Mark 11:25), in Christ’s name (John 14:13-14), and with a heart that is right with God (James 5:16).

4. We should make sure we have no unconfessed sin in our hearts when we pray, as this would certainly be an impediment to effective prayer. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2; cf. Psalm 66:18).

5. Avoid praying with selfish desires and wrong motives. “When you ask you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3)

What Prayer is…

Personal, intimate communication from us to God.

It takes a variety of forms

– Some of these include: adoration, confession, making requests, intercession, thanksgiving, praise, entreaty, meditation (thinking about God and what he has done), and sometimes even objecting to something.

What Prayer is Not…

Prayer Is Not … Trying to Manipulate or Control God

– Doing things to “bribe” God

-Trying to influence God with the “quantity” of prayers

– Impressing God with repetition

– Using unnatural language and strange speech patterns

Prayer Is Not … the Pursuit of Feelings or Mystical Experiences

– Mystical prayer

– Out of Body experience

– Transcending into the Spiritual realm

– Talking to the dead

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