Category Archives: Prayer Questions

Questions about Prayer: What Are Prayer Beads? Is It Okay to Use Beads While Praying?

Prayer beads, sometimes called rosary beads, are used in the practice of meditation and prayer. Prayers are repeated a number of times corresponding with the number of beads. Prayer or rosary beads have traditionally been associated with Catholicism, but the use of prayer beads is widespread with many religious traditions incorporating them.

The basic rosary is made up of 59 beads linked together in a shape that looks like a necklace. Each of the beads on the rosary is intended to have a prayer said while holding the individual bead. Of these beads, 53 of the beads are for “Hail Mary’s” to be said on them. The other six are intended for “Our Fathers.” These beads provide a physical method of keeping count of the prayers as the fingers are moved along the beads as the prayers are recited.

The history of the rosary in Christian circles has been traced back to the Crusaders. It is thought by historians that the Crusaders had adopted this practice from the Arabs, who, in turn, copied the observance of using beads from India. Recent archeological findings reveal that the ancient Ephesians made use of such beads in their worship of Diana, also known as Artemis, whose temple was one of the seven wonders of the world (Acts 19:24–41).

Prayer beads are also used by Roman Catholics to help the practitioner keep track of some 180 prayers which make up the rosary. Examples of such prayers are Our Father, Hail Mary, and Gloria. The practice of the rosary is based on the assumption that repeating these prayers over and over enables the petitioner to secure merit or favor from God in order to escape from the punishment of the fires of purgatory.

The use of prayer beads is not scriptural. Jesus Himself chastised the religious leaders of His time for repeating their prayers over and over. In fact, He told His disciples not to emulate them by using “vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Prayers are not to be merely recited or repeated mindlessly as though they are automatic formulas. Many who use prayer beads today claim that the rosary helps them take the focus off themselves and onto Christ, but the question is really one of the efficacy of repeating the same phrases over and over in a mantra-like manner.

Prayer is an incredible privilege for the Christian, as we are invited by the Creator of the universe to come “boldly” into His presence (Hebrews 4:16) and communicate with Him. Prayer is the means by which we praise Him, adore Him, give thanks to Him, submit to Him, and bring before Him petitions for ourselves and intercessions for others. It’s hard to see how that intimate communion with Him is enhanced by repeating simple prayers over and over again via prayer beads.[1]

 


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

Questions about Prayer: Why Doesn’t the Lord’s Prayer Include Thanksgiving?

It does seem odd, given the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:17–18 to “pray without ceasing” and to “give thanks in all circumstances,” that the Lord’s Prayer does not include instructions for thanksgiving. Furthermore, it seems especially odd seeing that Jesus models thanksgiving in prayer all throughout the gospels—in particular when He gives thanks to God so many times and in so many circumstances as He models prayer.

Jesus thanks God for the meals that He provides, including the miraculous feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:16–21) and the 4000 (Matthew 15:35–38). He gave thanks for the cup and the bread eaten at the Last Supper (Acts 27:35). He thanked God for hearing His request to raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41). He even thanked the Father from keeping the secrets of the kingdom from the wise and revealing them to the poor, the ignorant and the obscure (Matthew 11:25). Yet, He leaves thanksgiving out of the Lord’s Prayer.

Many of us were raised with the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication) as a model for prayer. In other words, before we pray to God for our needs, we ought to praise Him for what He has done, confess our sins before Him, and offer thanks for His grace and mercy. When we look at the Lord’s Prayer, we see the A, C and S, but no T.

If we examine the passage in which we find the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13), we first note why Jesus was teaching the disciples to pray a certain way. Jesus was critiquing the way the Pharisees prayed. They prayed out in the open where all could see and hear. This was a way to show the public how holy and pious they were. Jesus condemns this way of praying by saying that “they have their reward,” the reward of being seen by men. Jesus is not condemning public prayer, only the practice of praying with the goal of being “seen by men.” We also see Jesus critiquing the way the Gentiles prayed by constantly praying the same thing over and over again as if to make sure their god heard them, such as the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18.

Jesus’ corrective against these incorrect modes of prayer was to give His disciples a model prayer. Now, we don’t pray the Lord’s Prayer by simply reciting it as do the Roman Catholics and their rosary beads. This does not mean that corporate recital of the Lord’s Prayer is wrong. Jesus is, however, referring to private prayer, not corporate prayer.

It’s best to think of the Lord’s Prayer as a ‘blueprint’ for prayer—a means to shape and guide our prayer life. The prayer contains six petitions. The first three relate to God and the last three relate to us. After addressing God as “our Father in heaven,” we first pray that God’s name be made hallow (i.e., honored and glorified). Next we pray that God’s kingdom will come. There is a sense in which God’s kingdom is already present since the advent of Christ, but we pray for the kingdom to come in its fullness. Third, we pray for God’s will—His moral, or revealed, will—to be done here on earth, starting with us. After these three petitions which address God’s glory and majesty, we continue with the petitions that pertain to us—our daily provision, our forgiveness from sin and our deliverance from evil.

As for why we don’t find thanksgiving in the Lord’s Prayer, the best answer is that thanksgiving is the attitude and mindset in which we live, including when we pray to God. For those who are children of God, thanksgiving will fill our hearts and pour forth from our lips to God because we know, among other things, our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life through Jesus Christ. The more we contemplate what God has done for us, the more thankfulness just becomes a way of thinking in our relationship with God at all time, under all conditions and in all circumstances. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”[1]

 


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

Questions about Prayer: Why Should We Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?

God tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem in Psalm 122:6–9: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.’ For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.” From this passage, we see that praying for peace and good to come to God’s holy city benefits those who pray. God promised blessings on those who bless Israel and curses on those who curse her (Genesis 12:3), and since Jerusalem is depicted as the center of Jewish life, it follows that those who pray for her peace and security will be granted peace themselves.

Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is most appropriate for a city whose name literally means “peaceful” and which is the residence of the God of peace. The phrase “peace be upon Israel” is found also at the end of Psalm 125:5 and 128:6, indicating that it was a common farewell blessing. Further, Jerusalem will be the scene of Christ’s return (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:4), and at that time He will establish permanent peace with its walls. All Christians should be eagerly awaiting His return and praying for the time when the Prince of Peace will reign in Jerusalem.

Jesus also said that we should be peacemakers, which would include praying for peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). And we are commanded to do our best to live at peace with others. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). So, God wants us to seek peace among all people, and that would include praying for peace in Jerusalem, especially because of its special place in His heart.[1]

 


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

Questions about Prayer: Why Do We End Our Prayers With Amen?

The Hebrew word translated “amen” literally means “truly” or “so be it.” “Amen” is also found in the Greek New Testament and has the same meaning. Nearly half of the Old Testament uses of amen are found in the book of Deuteronomy. In each case, the people are responding to curses pronounced by God on various sins. Each pronouncement is followed by the words “and all the people shall say Amen” (Deuteronomy 27:15–26). This indicates that the people applauded the righteous sentence handed down by their holy God, responding, “So let it be.” The amen attested to the conviction of the hearers that the sentences which they heard were true, just, and certain.

Seven of the Old Testament references link amen with praise. The sentence “and all the people said, Amen, and praised Jehovah” found in 1 Chronicles 16:36, typifies the connection between amen and praise. In Nehemiah 5:13 and 8:6, the people of Israel affirmed Ezra’s exalting of God by worshipping Him and obeying Him. The highest expression of praise to God is obedience, and when we say “amen” to His commands and pronouncements, our praise is sweet music to His ears.

The New Testament writers all use “amen” at the end of their epistles. The apostle John uses it at the end of his gospel, his three letters, and the book of Revelation, where it appears nine times. Each time it is connected with praising and glorifying God and referring to the second coming and the end of the age. Paul says “amen” to the blessings he pronounces on all the churches in his letters to them, as do Peter, John and Jude in their letters. The implication is that they are saying, “May it be that the Lord will truly grant these blessings upon you.”

When Christians say “amen” at the end of our prayers, we are following the model of the apostles, asking God to “please let it be as we have prayed.” Remembering the connection between amen and the praise of obedience, all prayers should be prayed according to the will of God. Then when we say “amen,” we can be confident that God will respond “so be it” and grant our requests (John 14:13; 1 John 5:14).[1]

 


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

Questions about Prayer: Is corporate prayer important? Is corporate prayer more powerful than an individual praying alone?

Corporate prayer is an important part of the life of the church, along with worship, sound doctrine, communion, and fellowship. The early church met regularly to learn the doctrine of the apostles, break bread, and pray together (Acts 2:42). When we pray together with other believers, the effects can be very positive. Corporate prayer edifies and unifies us as we share our common faith. The same Holy Spirit who dwells within each believer causes our hearts to rejoice as we hear praises to our Lord and Savior, knitting us together in a unique bond of fellowship found nowhere else in life.

To those who may be alone and struggling with life’s burdens, hearing others lift them up to the throne of grace can be a great encouragement. It also builds in us love and concern for others as we intercede for them. At the same time, corporate prayer will only be a reflection of the hearts of the individuals who participate. We are to come to God in humility (James 4:10), truth (Psalm 145:18), obedience (1 John 3:21–22), with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6) and confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Sadly, corporate prayer can also become a platform for those whose words are directed not to God, but to their hearers. Jesus warned against such behavior in Matthew 6:5–8 where he exhorts us not to be showy, long-winded, or hypocritical in our prayers, but to pray secretly in our own rooms in order to avoid the temptation of using prayer hypocritically.

There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that corporate prayers are “more powerful” than individual prayers in the sense of moving the hand of God. Far too many Christians equate prayer with “getting things from God,” and group prayer becomes mainly an occasion to recite a list of our wants. Biblical prayers, however, are multi-faceted, encompassing the whole of the desire to enter into conscious and intimate communion with our holy, perfect, and righteous God. That such a God would bend an ear to His creatures causes praise and adoration to pour forth in abundance (Psalm 27:4; 63:1–8), produces heartfelt repentance and confession (Psalm 51; Luke 18:9–14), generates an outpouring of gratitude and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 1:12), and creates sincere intercessory pleas on behalf of others (2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2:16).

Prayer, then, is cooperating with God to bring about His plan, not trying to bend Him to our will. As we abandon our own desires in submission to the One who knows our circumstances far better than we ever could and who “knows what you need before you ask” (Matthew 6:8), our prayers reach their highest level. Prayers offered in submission to the Divine will, therefore, are always answered positively, whether offered by one person or a thousand.

The idea that corporate prayers are more likely to move the hand of God comes largely from a misinterpretation of Matthew 18:19–20, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” These verses come from a larger passage which addresses the procedures to be followed in the case of church discipline of a sinning member. To interpret them as promising believers a blank check for anything they might agree to ask God for, no matter how sinful or foolish, not only does not fit the context of church discipline, but it denies the rest of Scripture, especially the sovereignty of God.

In addition, to believe that when “two or three are gathered” to pray, some kind of magical power boost is automatically applied to our prayers is not biblically supportable. Of course Jesus is present when two or three pray, but He is equally present when one believer prays alone, even if that person is separated from others by thousands of miles. Corporate prayer is important because it creates unity (John 17:22–23), and is a key aspect of believers’ encouraging one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and spurring one another on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).[1]

 


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

Questions about Prayer: How can I have my prayers answered by God?

Many people believe answered prayer is God granting a prayer request that is offered to Him. If a prayer request is not granted, it is understood as an “unanswered” prayer. However, this is an incorrect understanding of prayer. God answers every prayer that is lifted to Him. Sometimes God answers “no” or “wait.” God only promises to grant our prayers when we ask according to His will. “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).

What does it mean to pray according to God’s will? Praying according to God’s will is praying for things that honor and glorify God and/or praying for what the Bible clearly reveals God’s will to be. If we pray for something that is not honoring to God or not God’s will for our lives, God will not give what we ask for. How can we know what God’s will is? God promises to give us wisdom when we ask for it. James 1:5 proclaims, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” A good place to start is 1 Thessalonians 5:12–24, which outlines many things that are God’s will for us. The better we understand God’s Word, the better we will know what to pray for (John 15:7). The better we know what to pray for, the more often God will answer “yes” to our requests.[1]

 


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

Questions about Prayer: How can I be sure I am praying according to the will of God?

Man’s highest aim should be to bring glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and this includes praying according to His will. First, we must ask for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). In asking for wisdom, we must also trust that God is gracious and willing to answer our prayers: “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt” (James 1:6; see also Mark 11:24). So, praying according to the will of God includes asking for wisdom (to know the will of God) and asking in faith (to trust the will of God).

Here are seven biblical instructions that will guide the believer in praying according to God’s will:

1) Pray for the things for which the Bible commands prayer. We are told to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44); for God to send missionaries (Luke 10:2); that we do not enter temptation (Matthew 26:41); for ministers of the Word (Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1); for government authorities (1 Timothy 2:1–3); for relief from affliction (James 5:13); and for the healing of fellow believers (James 5:16). Where God commands prayer, we can pray with confidence that we are praying according to His will.

2) Follow the example of godly characters in Scripture. Paul prayed for the salvation of Israel (Romans 10:1). David prayed for mercy and forgiveness when he sinned (Psalm 51:1–2). The early church prayed for boldness to witness (Acts 4:29). These prayers were according to the will of God, and similar prayers today can be as well. As with Paul and the early church, we should always be praying for the salvation of others. For ourselves, we should pray as David prayed, always aware of our sin and bringing it before God before it hinders our relationship with Him and thwarts our prayers.

3) Pray with the right motivation. Selfish motives will not be blessed by God. “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). We should also pray, not so our lofty words can be heard and we may be seen by others as “spiritual,” but mostly in private and in secret, so that our heavenly Father will hear in private and reward us openly (Matthew 6:5–6).

4) Pray with a spirit of forgiveness toward others (Mark 11:25). A spirit of bitterness, anger, revenge or hatred toward others will prevent our hearts from praying in total submission to God. Just as we are told not to give offerings to God while there is conflict between ourselves and another Christian (Matthew 5:23–24), in the same way God does not want the offering of our prayers until we have reconciled with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

5) Pray with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2; Philippians 4:6–7). We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter how burdened we are by our wants or needs. The greatest sufferer that lives in this world of redeeming love, and who has the offer of heaven before him, has reason to be grateful to God.

6) Pray with persistence (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). We should persevere in prayer and not quit or be dejected because we have not received an immediate answer. Part of praying in God’s will is believing that, whether His answer is “yes,” “no,” or “wait,” we accept His judgment, submit to His will, and continue to pray.

7) Rely on the Spirit of God in prayer. This is a wonderful truth: “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26–27). We have the Spirit’s help in praying. At the times of our deepest depression or sorrow, those times when we feel that we “just cannot pray,” we have the comfort of knowing that the Holy Spirit is actually praying for us! What an amazing God we have!

What assurance we have when we seek to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh! Then we can have confidence that the Holy Spirit will accomplish His work in presenting our prayers to the Father according to His perfect will and timing, and we can rest in the knowledge that He is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).[1]

 


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

Questions about Prayer: Does God hear / answer the prayers of a sinner / unbeliever?

John 9:31 declares, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.” It has also been said that “the only prayer that God hears from a sinner is the prayer for salvation.” As a result, some believe that God does not hear and/or will never answer the prayers of an unbeliever. In context, though, John 9:31 is saying that God does not perform miracles through an unbeliever. First John 5:14–15 tells us that God answers prayers based on whether they are asked according to His will. This principle, perhaps, applies to unbelievers. If an unbeliever asks a prayer of God that is according to His will, nothing prevents God from answering such a prayer—according to His will.

Some Scriptures describe God hearing and answering the prayers of unbelievers. In most of these cases, prayer was involved. In one or two, God responded to the cry of the heart (it is not stated whether that cry was directed toward God). In some of these cases, the prayer seems to be combined with repentance. But in other cases, the prayer was simply for an earthly need or blessing, and God responded either out of compassion or in response to the genuine seeking or the faith of the person. Here are some passages dealing with prayer by an unbeliever:

The people of Nineveh prayed that Nineveh might be spared (Jonah 3:5–10). God answered this prayer and did not destroy the city of Nineveh as He had threatened.

Hagar asked God to protect her son Ishmael (Genesis 21:14–19). God not only protected Ishmael, God blessed him exceedingly.

In 1 Kings 21:17–29, especially verses 27–29, Ahab fasts and mourns over Elijah’s prophecy concerning his posterity. God responds by not bringing about the calamity in Ahab’s time.

The Gentile woman from the Tyre and Sidon area prayed that Jesus would deliver her daughter from a demon (Mark 7:24–30). Jesus cast the demon out of the woman’s daughter.

Cornelius, the Roman centurion in Acts 10, had the apostle Peter sent to him in response to Cornelius being a righteous man. Acts 10:2 tells us that Cornelius “prayed to God regularly.”

God does make promises that are applicable to all (saved and unsaved alike) such as Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” This was the case for Cornelius in Acts 10:1–6. But there are many promises that, according to the context of the passages, are for Christians alone. Because Christians have received Jesus as the Savior, they are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace to find help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14–16). We are told that when we ask for anything according to God’s will, He hears and gives us what we ask for (1 John 5:14–15). There are many other promises for Christians concerning prayer (Matthew 21:22; John 14:13, 15:7). So, yes, there are instances in which God does not answer the prayers of an unbeliever. At the same time, in His grace and mercy, God can intervene in the lives of unbelievers in response to their prayers.[1]

 


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

Questions about Prayer: What is the Lord’s prayer and should we pray it?

The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer the Lord Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6:9–13 and Luke 11:2–4. Matthew 6:9–13 says, “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.’ ” Many people misunderstand the Lord’s Prayer to be a prayer we are supposed to recite word for word. Some people treat the Lord’s Prayer as a magic formula, as if the words themselves have some specific power or influence with God.

The Bible teaches the opposite. God is far more interested in our hearts when we pray than He is in our words. “But 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 use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:6–7). In prayer, we are to pour out our hearts to God (Philippians 4:6–7), not simply recite memorized words to God.

The Lord’s Prayer should be understood as an example, a pattern, of how to pray. It gives us the “ingredients” that should go into prayer. Here is how it breaks down. “Our Father in heaven” is teaching us whom to address our prayers to—the Father. “Hallowed be your name” is telling us to worship God, and to praise Him for who He is. The phrase “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a reminder to us that we are to pray for God’s plan in our lives and the world, not our own plan. We are to pray for God’s will to be done, not for our desires. We are encouraged to ask God for the things we need in “give us today our daily bread.” “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” reminds us to confess our sins to God and to turn from them, and also to forgive others as God has forgiven us. The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” is a plea for help in achieving victory over sin and a request for protection from the attacks of the devil.

So, again, the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite back to God. It is only an example of how we should be praying. Is there anything wrong with memorizing the Lord’s Prayer? Of course not! Is there anything wrong with praying the Lord’s Prayer back to God? Not if your heart is in it and you truly mean the words you say. Remember, in prayer, God is far more interested in our communicating with Him and speaking from our hearts than He is in the specific words we use. Philippians 4:6–7 declares, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”[1]

 


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

Questions about Prayer: How is prayer communicating with God?

To understand the nature of God’s communication to us, and ours to Him, we need to start with a few key precepts. The first is that God only speaks truth. He never lies, and He is never deceitful. Job 34:12 declares, “It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.” The second precept is that the Bible is God’s very words. The Greek word for “Scripture,” graphe, is used 51 times in the New Testament to describe the Old Testament writings. Paul affirms in 2 Timothy 3:16 that these words are literally “breathed out by God.” The word graphe also applies to the New Testament, specifically when Peter calls Paul’s epistles “scripture” in 2 Peter 3:16, and also when Paul (in 1 Timothy 5:18) quotes Jesus’ words as found in Luke 10:7 and calls them “scripture.” Thus, once we establish that a New Testament writing belongs in the special category “scripture,” then we are correct in applying 2 Timothy 3:16 to that writing as well, and saying that that writing also has the characteristics Paul attributes to “all scripture.” It is “God-breathed,” and all its words are the very words of God.

Why is this information pertinent to the subject of prayer? Now that we have established that God only speaks truth and that the Bible is God’s very words, we can come logically to the following two conclusions about communication with God. First, since the Bible says that God hears man (Psalm 17:6, 77:1; Isaiah 38:5), man can trust that when he is in a right relationship with God and he speaks to God, God will hear him. Second, since the Bible is God’s words, man can trust that when he is in a right relationship with God and he reads the Bible, he is literally hearing God’s spoken word. The right relationship with God that is necessary for healthy communication between God and man is evidenced in three ways. The first is a turning from sin, or repentance. Psalm 27:9, for example, is the plea of David for God to hear him and not turn away from him in anger. From this, we know that God does turn His face away from man’s sin and that sin hinders the communication between God and man. Another example of this is found in Isaiah 59:2, where Isaiah tells the people, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” So, when there is unconfessed sin in our lives, it will hinder communication with God.

Also necessary for communication is a humble heart. God speaks these words in Isaiah 66:2, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” The third thing is a righteous life. This is the positive side of turning from sin and is marked specifically by effectiveness in prayer. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

Our speech to God may be vocal, in our minds, or written. We can be confident that He will hear us and that the Holy Spirit will help us to pray what we ought to pray. Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

As far as God’s method of communicating back to us, we should be looking for God to speak to us primarily through Scripture, rather than trusting that God will always put thoughts directly into our minds in order to guide us to specific actions or decisions. Because of our capacity for self-deception, it is not wise to accept the idea that any and every thought that enters our minds is from God. Sometimes, regarding specific issues in our lives, God does not speak to us directly through Scripture, and it can be understandably tempting to look for extra-biblical revelation in those instances. However, at such times, it is wisest—in order to avoid putting words in God’s mouth and/or opening ourselves to deception—to find answers by referring to biblical principles that He has already given us.

It is also advisable to pray earnestly for the wisdom to come to the right conclusions, for He has promised to give wisdom to those who ask for it. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). How is prayer communicating with God? Prayer is our speaking from our hearts to our heavenly Father, and, in return, God’s speaking to us through His Word and guiding us by the leading of His Spirit.[1]

 


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