Christian Biblical Counsel: PRAYER

Background

Prayer has a place of highest priority in the Bible. Some of the Scriptures’ most transcendent passages deal with prayers expressing praise, worship, thanksgiving, confession, and supplication. The lives of the outstanding people of God of both the Old and New Testaments, and down through the history of the church, were characterized by much prayer. All the recorded revivals of history had their beginnings in prayer. Anything of value in the kingdom of God is initiated in and dependent on prayer.

The Bible reveals our ignorance of prayer:

“We do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

“When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For

they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7).

The Bible invites us, actually commands us, to pray:

“In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

The Bible offers many guidelines for praying:

1. Through individual promises (there are hundreds of recorded promises in the Bible):

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6).

“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

 

2. Through the prayers of Christ:

• The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:6–14; Luke 11:1–4)

• His prayer for His own (John 17)

• His prayer at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:41–45)

• His prayer at His Transfiguration (Luke 9:28–36)

• His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–46)

• His prayers from the cross (Matthew 27:46; Luke 23:34, 46)

3. Through the prayers of the great spiritual leaders of the Bible:

• Abraham’s servant’s prayer and God’s answer (Genesis 24:12–66)

• Jacob’s prayer for deliverance from Esau and God’s answer (Genesis 32:9–33:16)

• Moses’ prayer for God’s presence and glory (Exodus 33:12–23)

• Joshua’s prayer of despair and God’s answer (Joshua 7:6–26)

• Hannah’s prayer and vow, and God’s answer (1 Samuel 1:1–28)

• Elijah’s prayer and God’s answer (1 Kings 18:41–46; see James 5:17–18)

• Hezekiah’s prayer and God’s answer (2 Kings 19:14–37)

• David’s thanksgiving and prayer for his people and for his son (1 Chronicles 29:10–19)

• Solomon’s prayer at the temple dedication and God’s answer (2 Chronicles 6:12–42)

• David’s prayer of repentance and confession (Psalm 51)

• Other prayers, thanksgiving, and praise in the book of Psalms

• Paul’s prayer for knowledge and wisdom (Ephesians 1:15–23)

• Paul’s prayer for believers (Ephesians 3:14–21)

• Paul’s exhortation to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:1–8)

 

Helping Strategy

Many people ask for prayer because they have specific concerns but do not know how to pray and what language to use in approaching God. We should be ready to offer encouragement and to pray with them about their requests. Reassure them that you are delighted to share their concerns, because God knows about them. He cares and has promised to answer prayer.

1. One prayer that delights God’s heart is the sinner’s prayer: “God be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). Do not assume that because the caller has requested prayer that he or she is a Christian. Assure the individual that you are concerned and are happy to take his or her request to God. However, before doing so, you would like to ask if he or she has ever received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. If appropriate, present the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD

2. Just before praying for the expressed need, encourage the individual by reading these two prayer promises from the Bible: “And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22). “If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). (Suggest that the person write down the references for later reading.)

3. Pray the fervent prayer of faith, and then thank God for the answer.

4. Sometimes a Christian will complain that God does not seem to answer his or her prayers. Encourage such a person to continue praying in faith, being persistent like the woman in Luke 18:1–5. Also, advise being sure that the motives for the prayer are pure, according to James 4:3.

 

Scripture

Encouragement to Pray:

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:6–8, NIV).

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18, NIV).

 

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

 

Prayer Promises:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10).

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:13–14, NIV).

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12, NIV).

 

How to Pray:

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one’” (Matthew 6:9–13, NIV).

“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing” (1 Timothy 2:8, NIV).

The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996

Prayer, Waiting on the Lord

See also Trust.

1.   The Lord’s Prayer is our model.

Matt. 6:9–13.

2.   Pray “Our Father.”

Matt. 6:9. “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.”

3.   Pray for daily needs.

Matt. 6:11. Give us this day our daily bread.

4.   Pray daily for the forgiveness of sins.

Matt. 6:12. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

5.   We can approach God boldly through Jesus, our high priest, who understands our needs.

Heb. 4:14–16. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

6.   Cast all your anxiety on the Lord.

1 Peter 5:6–7. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

7.   Pray about everything instead of worrying.

Phil. 4:6–7. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8.   Pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances.

1 Thess. 5:17–18. Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

9.   Pray in faith.

James 1:6. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

10. In time of sickness, pray.

James 5:14–16.

11. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful.

James 5:16. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

12. Dare to pray for great things, as did Elijah.

James 5:17–18. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

13. God hears and answers prayer; he is near to his children.

Ps. 34:15–18. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

14. Pray and work, using the means available to you.

Neh. 4:9. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

15. In all your ways acknowledge the Lord.

Prov. 3:5–6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

16. Seek the Lord while he may be found.

Isa. 55:6. Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

17. Thank God for his grace and mercy, praise him, and keep seeking his mercy.

Ps. 105:1–4.

18. Praise and thank God for answered prayer.

Ps. 66:13–20.

Ps. 66:17–20. I cried to Him with my mouth, And He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, Nor His mercy from me!

19. Pray for the forgiveness of sins.

Ps. 32; Ps. 51.

Jer. 29:12–13. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Matt. 11:28–30. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Rom. 10:13. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

1 John 1:7–9.

See also Forgiveness of Sins.

20. Call on the Lord in time of trouble.

Ps. 50:15. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

21. Because Jesus was tried, as we are, he is able to help us.

Heb. 2:18. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Heb. 3:1. Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.

22. God answers intercessory prayer.

Acts 12:1–17. (Peter was unjustly imprisoned. The church met for prayer. Peter was soon set free.)

Acts 12:5. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

Acts 12:12. So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.[1]


[1] Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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