Category Archives: Prayer Questions

Questions about Prayer: What Is the Importance and Value of Group Prayer?

 

Group prayer among Christians is important and rewarding. It has been this way from the beginning of the church. In Acts 3, when the disciples by the power of the Spirit were preaching and thousands were being saved, the church had a plan, and they carried it out in community. “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42, NASB). Group prayer was important in the early church as something that bound them together as they carried out the Great Commission.

In Acts 4:31 group prayer is noted again, “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” God gave boldness to the whole group in their witness, in response to their prayer. They needed this power, as they were facing persecution.

In Acts 6:3–4, “But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Prayer was one of the highest priorities of the church leadership.

The Holy Spirit is always praying in and through us “through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26), and Jesus taught the importance of personal prayer in secret in the inner room (Matthew 6). But group or corporate prayer has a place as well. Group prayer knits believers together and encourages the burdened. When a group of believers pray together, the result is unity, humility, thanksgiving, confession of sin, intercession, and discovery of God’s will.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Prayer: What Does It Mean to Pray for Our Daily Bread?

 

The Lord’s Prayer, the prayer Jesus used to instruct His followers how to pray, is well known among Christians. Many recite it in unison as a form of liturgy; others meditate on each portion in their private time with God or view it is a model of the components of prayer. The prayer is recorded in Matthew 6:9–13 and Luke 11:2–4. One portion of the prayer says, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

The first, and most obvious, meaning of this request is that God would sustain us physically. Jesus was perhaps alluding to God’s provision of manna, which was given every day in the desert (Exodus 16:4–12; Deuteronomy 8:3; John 6:31). We recognize God as our provider and rely on Him to meet our daily needs. This does not mean that we expect God to literally rain down manna on us but that we understand He is the one who makes our work fruitful, sometimes even meeting physical needs in miraculous ways. Shortly after instructing His followers how to pray, Jesus talked to them about anxiety. He said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?… But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:25, 33). Interestingly, in the Lord’s Prayer, the request immediately preceding the appeal for daily bread is for God’s kingdom to come.

Requesting daily bread is not only about physical provision. It can also refer to asking God to provide for our less tangible needs. In Matthew 7:7–11 Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Good parents provide not only what their children need for physical life, but also for practical, emotional, and relational needs. God is the giver of good gifts (James 1:17). “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

God has already met our greatest spiritual need, that of forgiveness and restoration, through Christ (Colossians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21; John 20:31). But He does not stop there. Jesus calls Himself the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35). “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4). Jesus says He came to bring us abundant life (John 10:10). Not only are we saved for eternity, but we also experience a restored relationship with God now. We seek Him daily, and He renews us day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). The branch is continually nourished by the Vine (John 15:5).

Yes, God sustains us physically and meets the less tangible needs of this life. More than that, He fulfills our spiritual needs. He is the bread that satisfies our spiritual hunger. He sustains our hearts. When we ask God for our daily bread, we are humbly acknowledging Him as the sole giver of all we need. We are living day by day, one step at a time. We are exercising simple faith in Him to provide just what we need, when we need it—for every area of life.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Prayer: Are People Who Claim to Talk to God Insane?

 

There is nothing crazy, ridiculous, or unreasonable about one person talking to another person. Prayer is simply conversation with our Creator. God is spirit, but He is also a Person, which means He has personality, with feelings, desires, and intelligence. He enjoys interaction with His creation, and when we choose to seek Him, He promises we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). The Bible is filled with conversations between God and people, beginning in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17). God created man for fellowship, and conversation is a big part of that. He delights in us and wants us to delight in Him (Psalm 37:4, 23).

God Himself invites us to call on Him, and He promises to answer (Jeremiah 3:3, 29:12; Psalm 50:15; Ephesians 6:18; 1 John 5:14). Jesus taught us how to pray in what has become known as “The Lord’s Prayer” (Luke 11:2–4). His own prayer, recorded in John 17, is also a good example of heartfelt, intimate prayer between the Father and the Son. If we have become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we can pray just as intimately and know that our Father hears us (John 1:12).

There are too many instances to cite of perfectly sane people talking to God. Some of the most noteworthy are Moses (Exodus 4:10), Elijah (James 5:17), David (2 Samuel 24:10), and Jesus (Matthew 11:24; John 17:1). Many great leaders of the past have relied on prayer to make their decisions. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and most of America’s Founding Fathers believed strongly in the power of prayer. Great scientists such as Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Francis Bacon, George Washington Carver, and Galileo also believed in prayer. None of these people could be classified as “insane.”

Those who walk closely with God also hear His voice speaking to them. God’s voice is rarely audible. He speaks into the heart of a person who is wholly committed to Him (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 2 Corinthians 12:9). He speaks through His Holy Spirit into the hearts of His children to guide, protect, and encourage them (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18). Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice” (John 10:27).

When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside our hearts (1 Corinthians 6:9). He helps us pray in a way that communicates our real heart’s desire to God (Romans 8:26). In John 14:26, Jesus told His disciples, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Often, God’s answer to our prayers is already found in His Word. As we pray, the Holy Spirit brings His Word to mind, and we have our answer. Human beings never become all they were created to be until they learn to communicate with their Creator.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Prayer: If Jesus Condemned the Pharisees for Praying out Loud, Should We Pray Aloud?

 

There are several references in the New Testament to public prayers that are unacceptable, and it is true that Jesus condemned the Pharisees’ manner of praying. But Jesus Himself prayed out loud on occasion (see John 17), as did the apostles (Acts 8:15; 16:25; 20:36). Acts 1:14 says, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Then in verse 24, the apostles prayed together to choose someone to fill Judas’ spot among the twelve. They were clearly praying together and out loud. So, the sin was not in the public nature of the prayer or the fact that people could hear it.

In Luke 18:10–14, Jesus gives this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Notice that the tax collector also prayed aloud, but his prayer was from a humble heart, and God accepted it. The sin of the Pharisees was not public prayer but a haughty spirit.

Later, Jesus says, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation” (Luke 20:46–47). Here the sin is not the audible nature of the prayer but its pretentiousness. Jesus condemns the hypocrisy of pretending to have a relationship with God while oppressing the very people He loves.

Then in Matthew 6:5, Jesus says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Again, Jesus is not condemning the fact that people prayed aloud, but that they were putting on a public display for their own benefit. Their motive—to be seen of men—was the problem. Such prayer is not real prayer, but empty words meant for the ears of other people (Hebrews 10:22). Proverbs 15:29 says, “The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”

In Ephesians 5:20, Paul instructs the church to “give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Communal prayer is one way a local church worships God and encourages one another. What Jesus condemns is arrogance and hypocrisy. For someone who is clearly disobedient to God to lead a public prayer as though he or she had much to brag about is the kind of hypocrisy that Jesus denounced. To use public prayer as a means of showing off or impressing others is wrong. But sincere prayer from a humble heart is always welcomed by God and can be an encouragement to those who hear it (Jeremiah 19:12; Psalm 51:17).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Prayer: What Is the Value of a Prayer Meeting?

 

From the very beginning of the church, Christians have gathered to pray (Acts 4:24; 12:5; 21:5). Prayer meetings are valuable for the church as a whole and for the individuals who participate.

Prayer is only for those who believe that God is personal and who want a personal relationship with Him. Christians know prayer works because they have encountered a God who declares, “Talk to me and I will listen.” The apostle John confirms this: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14–15).

Through our prayers, especially with one another, we are demonstrating and validating the faith we have in Jesus. Andrew Murray, the great Christian minister and prolific writer, said, “Prayer depends chiefly, almost entirely, on who we think we are praying to.” It is through the discipline of prayer with one another that we develop a growing intimacy with God, and create a spiritual bond with one another. This is one of the most valuable aspects of praying with one another.

Another valuable benefit of prayer meetings is the confession of our sins to one another. Prayer meetings give us opportunity to obey the command to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Here, James does not necessarily speak of physical healing, but rather of spiritual restoration (Hebrews 12:12–13). He also refers to the forgiveness of God, which enables the believer to become spiritually whole again. James knew that the one who becomes separated from the flock is most susceptible to the dangers of sin. God wants His people to encourage and support one another in loving fellowship, mutual honesty and confession as we pray for and with each other. Such close fellowship helps provide spiritual strength to experience victory over sin.

Another great value of prayer meetings is that believers encourage one another to endure. All of us face obstacles, but by sharing and praying together as Christians, we often help others avoid “bottoming out” in their spiritual lives. The value of corporate prayer lies in its power to unify hearts. Praying before God on behalf of our brothers and sisters has the effect of linking one another spiritually. As we “carry each other’s burdens,” we “fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Where there is prayer, there is unity, which Jesus prayed so fervently for His followers to have (John 17:23).

More than anything else, prayer meetings bring about change. Praying with one another, believers can witness God produce miracles and change hearts.

A prayer meeting is a time of real value as believers seek a deep intimacy and quiet communion with God at His throne. It is a time of unity with fellow believers in the presence of the Lord. It is a time to care for those around us as we share their burdens. It is a time when God manifests His never-ending love and desire to communicate with those who love Him.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.