For the last seven and a half years I have taught a Bible study on prayer at every Wednesday prayer meeting. As a result I have taught over 300 different lessons on prayer, including studies of Jesus’ teaching on prayer, all the prayers of the New Testament, most of the prayers in the Old Testament and many of the Psalms. These studies included instructions on how to pray, tips to help personal prayer time and truths about God that encourage prayer. In seven years I have repeated only a handful of lessons and I have not yet exhausted the Bible’s teachings on prayer. The Bible’s instructions regarding prayer are extensive and comprehensive.
One of the most encouraging things I have learned along the way is that prayer is God’s idea. God initiated conversation with sinful mankind and made it possible for men to come to Him. He opened the door for us to come to Him. He invites us to commune with Him. We pray because God welcomes people to enter into a relationship with Him.
Prayer is relational. Prayer is not just listing requests and speaking religious sounding phrases. Because prayer is relational the Bible does not present many detailed instructions about how to pray. Most of what the Bible teaches about prayer is learned in the examples of saints praying.
What can the Christian learn about prayer from the examples in the Bible? One of the most significant things we learn from the prayers in the Bible is to pray the Bible. Praying the Bible is one of most important and helpful practices for developing a consistent, God-honoring prayer life. The Old Testament is full of examples of men praying the Scriptures. David’s Psalms are filled with references to the books of Moses. When Solomon dedicated the temple his prayer was full of principles and references from the law of Moses. When Jonah prayed in the fish’s belly his prayer echoed the Psalms. Daniel prayed because of the promises found in the book of Jeremiah. The same pattern can be found in the New Testament. Jesus Himself prayed the Old Testament Scriptures. His prayer to God on the cross was a direct quotation of the Psalm 22:1. Every line of the Lord’s Prayer echoes Old Testament truth.The church in Acts prayed the Psalms and Paul’s prayers reflect a profound application of Old Testament principles to the New Testament church.
The easiest way to begin practicing praying the Bible is to go to the New Testament and pray the prayers found there. Make the apostolic requests for the church your own. For example, in Colossians 1:9-11 Paul tells the church in Colosse the things he prayed for them.“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.”
Paul’s prayer teaches us several things to pray for our fellow Christians:
- Pray that God will fill fellow Christians with the knowledge of His will
- Pray believers will walk worthy of the Lord
- Pray for one another to please the Lord
- Pray for Christians to be fruitful in all good works
- Pray that you will all increase in the knowledge of God
- Pray for God’s to strengthen His church by His glorious power
- Pray God will strength His church to patiently endure one another with joy.