Summary: Jesus actually had very much to say about prayer. After all, He spent a great deal of time in prayer. In fact, Jesus refers to prayer in His teachings 42 times, and the gospels record Him personally praying 28 times. So, what is prayer exactly?

Jesus and Prayer – Part 1

“What Is Prayer?”

Matthew 6:5-15

Jesus actually had very much to say about prayer. After all, He spent a great deal of time in prayer. In fact, Jesus refers to prayer in His teachings 42 times, and the gospels record Him personally praying 28 times.

Several times, the Word tells us, “And He went up to the mountain to pray.” (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:28) He prayed in the wilderness, in the Temple, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He prayed on the Cross. Prayer was so much a part of the life of the Savior that, early on, the disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1). They were amazed at the level of significance and the depth of meaning that prayer had for Jesus. His life was an eloquent expression of close communication with Almighty God.

The Jews were well versed in the mechanics of and occasions for prayer. What most didn’t know was how to have the kind of profound substance to their prayer that Jesus obviously had. Many of them saw the pattern of His prayer life, and many more witnessed the results of that investment.

More important than that, however, was the kind of man Jesus was as a result of His prayer life.

So, what is prayer?

There were 83,100,000 hits on an Internet search I conducted on prayer recently. The multitudinous views on prayer and how to do it and to whom to do it and the intended or projected results one can expect are seemingly limitless. There has been much written about it over the years; there are several traditional ‘books of prayer’ available, each with several hundred in them – some dating clear back into the 16th Century.

So, what is prayer? What does it look like, and how do I do it?

The best source to explore and examine, obviously, when it comes to something of such a fundamental as well as vital import is the Word of God. And, the ultimate person to ask our questions of is the Living Word, Jesus Christ.

In its simplest definition, prayer is conversation with God.

And, in the early days of faith, that is sufficient for every believer.

Yet, as a person grows in their faith and their understanding of God and the ways of God, prayer becomes much more personal and of much greater importance. It becomes more and more valuable and more and more necessary and more and more real.

What is prayer?

1. Calling on the name of the Lord in praise, worship, and dependence (Genesis 4:26; 12:8; 26:25; 1 Kings 18:24; Zephaniah 3:9; Psalm 72:12-15).

2. Calling on God for help and strength (Psalm 4:1,3; 18:6; 50:15).

3. Seeking God’s face in time of distress (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 105:4).

4. Seeking the Lord in times of fear or great need (Psalm 34:4; Isaiah 55:6).

5. Crying out to God (Psalm 3:3-4).

6. Lifting up your soul to God (Psalm 28).

7. Approaching God’s Throne of Grace and Salvation (Hebrews 4:16; 10:22).

To Whom do we pray?

1. God, the Creator (Acts 4:24)

2. God, the Father (Matthew 6:9; Romans 8:15; Ephesians 3:14-15)

3. God, the Lord of all (Job 41:11; Psalm 24:1-2)

4. God, the Son (Luke 23:42; Acts 7:59; Acts 10:36; Philippians 2:10-11)

What’s in a prayer?

1. Adoration (Psalm 150; John 17:1-5)

2. Confession (Psalm 51)

3. Thanksgiving (Psalm 136; Philippians 4:6)

4. Supplication (Intercession and Petition) (John 17:6-26)

How do we pray?

1. Through Jesus Christ (Romans 1:8; Colossians 3:17; Hebrews 10:19-22)

2. In the Name of Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14; Ephesians 5:20)

3. By way of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20)

4. In fear and reverence to the Lord (Psalm 145:19; Proverbs 1:28-29)

5. In faith (Mark 11:6; James 1:6; James 5:15)

6. In humility (2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Chronicles 33:12-13)

7. In repentance (2 Chronicles 6:37; Acts 3:19)

8. With our whole heart (Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13)

9. With a heart cleansed of sin (Psalm 66:18-19; Isaiah 1:15-16; John 9:31)

10. With a life free from selfishness (Luke 18:9-14; James 4:3)

11. With a forgiving spirit (Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25)

12. With assurance (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 10:19, 35; 1 John 3:21-22)

13. With determination (Luke 11:5-10; Luke 18:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

14. Simply and sincerely (Matthew 6:5-8; Mark 12:38-40)

15. In submission to God’s will (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44; 1 John 5:14)

16. Obedience must follow (1 John 3:22)

What we have seen in this section of our study is that it is we who come to God in prayer, not He who comes to us. We have also seen quite clearly that we have a very real and important part to play if we truly desire His answers.

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