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What is a Prayer?
In chapters 4 and 5 of I Thessalonians Paul is telling the people of Thessalonica how to live. He tells the people how they should conduct themselves, that they should look forward to Yahshua’s second coming, that they should remain steadfast in their faith, and remain in agreement.
What Consitutes a Prayer?
When you pray do you know what you should say? No matter how you answer this question would it surprise you to know that one of Yahshua’s own disciples asked that question of Yahshua? In Luke 11:1 we read that as Yahshua was praying in a certain place that one of His disciples said unto Him “Master, teach us to pray.” In the next three verses of Luke 11 we read Yahshua’s answer. See also Matt. 6:9-13.
Verse 2 of Luke 11 shows that the first part of a prayer should focus on Yahweh. By doing so we show our respect toward Yahweh by placing our references to Him at the beginning of our prayers. Verses 3 and 4 of Luke 11 concerns the satisfying of our own needs.
It is interesting to note that this model prayer has seven parts to it, where the number seven points toward spiritual perfection.
But what is the main reason why Yahshua chose these words to indicate what a typical prayer should be made of? Let us look at each of these parts and by doing so learn the reason why.
Our Father Who Art In Heaven
This first part of the model prayer shows us to whom we are to address our prayers - to Yahweh, Himself. He is the One who gives us everything, the One who knows what is best for us. It is to Him we are to direct our prayers.
In Ps. 5 verses 1 and 2 we read: “Give ear to my words, O Yahweh, consider my meditation. Harken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my Elohim: for unto Thee will I pray.” Paul tells us the same thing in Phil. 4:6: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto Yahweh.”
When we pray we should not pray selfishly for things, but we should pray respectfully and with all humility because Yahweh “knows what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.” Matt. 6:8. Yahshua, Himself, tells us, in John 16:23: “And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My Name, He shall give it to you.”
The old testament people knew they were to pray to Yahweh:
Therefore the people came unto Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against Yahweh, and against thee; pray unto Yahweh, that He take away the serpents from us, Numbers 21:7. See also I Samuel 7:5.
The same is true for the new testament people.
Now I pray to Yahweh that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates, II Cor 13:7. See also Acts 8:18-24.
In I Tim 2:1 Paul writes to Timothy that prayers are to be made for all men.”I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” Bullinger, in his notes, says that the Greek word proseuche translated prayers is restricted to prayer that is to be offered to Yahweh.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
If you came out of nominal churchianity and repeated this model prayer did you ever realize what is meant by this phrase? The Greek word hagiazo is translated hallowed and means to hallow, to make holy, to sanctify. We are to set Yahweh’s Name apart from other names for holy use.
The third commandment tells us in Ex. 20:7 that we are not to take Yahweh’s Name in vain. This means that we are not to bring Yahweh’s Name to nought. We are not to make Yahweh’s Name become worthless. We must hold Yahweh’s Name in deep reverence.
Thy Kingdom Come
John the immerser proclaimed the coming of the kingdom:
In those days came John the immerser, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, Matt 3:1 and 2.
The major thrust of Yahshua’s early ministry was proclaiming the coming kingdom.
From that time Yahshua began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, Matt. 4:17.
The kingdom would have already been here were it not for the decision by Adam and Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit. Can we do no less than to ask that all the trials, temptations and persecutions against Yahweh’s People end so that His kingdom can be established on this earth?
Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven
Matt. 7:21 tells us:
Not every one that saith unto Me, “Master, Master”, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.
Here the word will is a translation of the Greek thelema which means will, inclination, desire or pleasure. See also Matt. 12:50. We should realize that Yahweh’s will shall always prevail.
There may be times in our lives when we may not fully comprehend why certain things happen. If we believe that Yahweh’s will does prevail then we must also believe that whatever happens to us in our lives is done according to what Yahweh wills to happen. This is explained for us in Rom. 12:2:
And be ye not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of Yahweh.
We are to be the servants of Yahweh:
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as servants of the Messiah, doing the will of Yahweh from the heart, Eph. 6:6.
Paul tells us in Heb. 13:18-21 that we should pray that by doing those things which are well pleasing to Yahweh that Yahweh will perfect us to be able to do His will so that we might “receive the promise,” Heb. 10:36.
I Tim 2:4 tell us that Yahweh “will have all men to be saved." We know that all men will not enter into Yahweh’s kingdom because of man’s unwillingness to conform to Yahweh’s way of life. Matt 20:16 tell us that “many will be called but a few chosen.”
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
This phrase must be viewed two ways: physically and spiritually.
Physically we know that we need food to sustain us. We can not live too long if we do not ingest food. The nutrients provided by the food we eat will either build up our body if they are good for us, or will tear it down if they are not what we should eat.
Fasting is a means of eliminating from our bodies the poisons we take in when we eat. Unless we grow the food we eat that food may contain additives which are not the best for us. These additives can accumulate in our bodies. A little bit may not make a profound difference, but a lot could make a profound difference in the way that our bodies can handle those items we eat which may not be the best for us.
Spiritually there are many scriptures which tell us that there is more to life than eating to sustain our physical life.
In Luke 4:4 we read that “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of Yahweh.” See also Deut. 8:3.
In the sixth chapter of John, verse 26, Yahshua tells the people following Him that they are following Him for the wrong reason. He told them they were not following Him because of the miracle He performed in the feeding of the 5000 people with only 2 small fishes and 5 barley loaves, but that they were following Him because of the food that they ate.
In John 6:27 Yahshua tells the people following, and us also, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.”
In verses 48 through 51 of John 6, Yahshua tells these same people:
I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever: and that bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
This confused the people following Him and Yahshua further had to explain in verses 53 through 58 that by eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood that He will raise them up in the last day to live with Him forever.
These verses refer to the passover service we are to keep annually and the symbolic meaning of the eating of the unleavened bread and the drinking of the fruit of the vine.
Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors
The last 13 verses of Matthew, chapter 18, shows the significance of not forgiving those who owe us something. It seems a servant of a king owed his master a lot of money. When the king threatened to throw this servant into prison until the debt was repaid, the servant pleaded his master not to do so and the king had compassion and forgave his servant the debt owed.
A short time later this same servant came upon a man who owed him a lot less money than he owed his master. This servant was going to throw this man in prison until the debt was paid. But the man pleaded the servant not to do so. However, this servant did not have compassion and threw the man in prison.
When the master heard of his servant throwing someone in prison for an unpaid debt he called the servant to his presence and in no simple terms “delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” Matt. 18:34.
Verse 35 of Matt 18 tells us the importance of this story.
So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
Forgiveness is a two way street. To be forgiven, one must forgive. “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” Luke 6:37. We are to also remember that as Yahshua told Peter in Matt. 18:21-22 that we are to forgive “until seventy times seven”.
Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil
When we first become part of Yahshua’s body through immersion into the Name of Yahshua, we must believe that satan will attack with full force to try to cause one to fall into sin.
We can expect trials and temptations and, even if we are subjected to evil,we should count it for joy as we are told in James 1:2: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptation." See also I Peter 1:6.
The Scriptures plainly tell us not to be afraid of temptations because “Yahweh is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." I Cor. 10:13. See also II Peter 2:9.
In James 1:12-15 we find out what happens to those who endure temptations and to those who succumb to temptation. A crown of life will be given to those who endure temptation, verse 12, while the second death is promised those who give way to temptations, conceive lust and sin, verses 14 and 15.
We must be watchful of temptations. We must be on guard when temptations befall us. Scriptures tell us of these things and that we should pray that temptation not overcome us.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak, Matt. 26:41.
See also Mark 14:38 and Luke 22:46.
Satan wishes to take away as many people from Yahshua as he can. Satan tries to influence anyone and everyone to lose their faith. This is why we should pray that Yahweh deliver us from the evil one. When we are tempted by satan we should say, as Yahshua did in Luke 4:8, “get thee behind Me, satan."
What Should Be Said In A Prayer
The model prayer we just went through is stated verbatim in nominal churchianity. By doing so it loses its importance and meaning. By repeating it over and over one can forget how important it really is. What one must remember is that we are to do the will of Yahweh and to remain in Yahweh’s favor. When troubles beset us there is nothing wrong with a prayer to contain something which is not specifically mentioned in this model prayer. So then let us search the Scriptures to find proper examples of what Yahweh will deem as an acceptable prayer.
Some general areas the Scriptures relate to are confessions:
And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of Yahweh: and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to Yahweh Elohim of their fathers, II Chron. 30:22;
There is a saying which says that the confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works. Making a confession makes one feel better. By confessing pressure is taken off and one is relieved. Prov. 28:13 says that “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” It is best to make confession of our sins as I John 1:9 tells us “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." One can also read the stories found in Joshua 7:19-26 and Ps. 32:5. We should daily pray for the forgiveness of our sins.
There is nothing wrong with making requests:
Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared, Heb. 5:7.
The Scriptures tell us that it is quite proper to request wisdom,
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of Yahweh, That giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him, James 1:5.
We can also ask for guidance:
Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and Yahweh shall be with thee, Ex. 18:19.
When we feel the pressures of this world to be too great for us we should pray to Yahweh for added strength as David did in Ps. 39:12 and 13:
Hear my prayer, O Yahweh, and give ear unto my cry; hold not Thy peace at my tears: For I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go thence, and be no more.
See also Matt. 26:36-44.
When we feel persecuted or threatened by others or or if we feel we are being despitefully used by others we can pray, as David did in Ps. 54:2 and 3:
Hear my prayer, O Elohim; give ear to the words of my mouth, for strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul; they have not set Elohim before them.
See also Acts 4:23-30, Neh. 1:11 and Matt. 5:44.
One should not leave out praises and thanksgiving:
It is a good thing to give thanks unto Yahweh, and to sing praises unto thy Name, O most High, Ps. 2:1.
Even though we may not agree with what others are doing we should also make prayer for them as Paul writes to Timothy in I Tim. 2:1 and 2: “ I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all righteousness and honesty.”
Paul shows us in Acts 27:33-36 that we should give thanks to Yahweh before we eat for the food He has provided.
The story told us beginning in Deut. 8:10 tells us that after we eat and are full that we should give praise and thanksgiving to Yahweh lest we forget Yahweh.
Paul tells the people of Ephesus, chapter 5, verses 15 and 20: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise... giving thanks always for all things unto Yahweh and the Father in the Name of our Saviour, Yahshua the Messiah."
We are told not to love the world nor the things in the world because if we do then the love of Yahweh is not in us, I John 2:15 - 17. The reason for this is that this world and all the materialistic things in it will eventually pass away and be of no use to us when Yahshua returns to claim His People.
Requirements While In Prayer
James writes for us in James 5:16 to
Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
From the Greek words translated effectual and fervent it means that we should put our entire being into play when we pray. Scriptures use “cry with a loud voice”, Ps. 27:7; “prayed and cried”, II Chron. 32:20 and “pour out your heart”, Ps. 62:8 to emphasis fervent prayer.
In nominal churchianity when the same prayer is offered week in and week out it is so easy to let one’s mind wander when saying a prayer. Does Yahweh accept a prayer from someone when that person is saying the words but their mind is off somewheres else? Hardly. When we pray we should concentrate on what we are saying.
David indicates in Ps. 119:58 and Ps. 62:8 to put our whole heart into what we say in prayer. This is what Yahshua did when He prayed to Yahweh in Heb. 5:7:
Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard that He feared.
See also Luke 22:44
Where Should One Be When Praying
Yahshua tells us some of the do’s and don’t’s about prayer. “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father Which is in secret; and thy Father Which seest in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them...." Matt. 6:5-8.
The word closet in the above Scripture is the translation of the Greek word tameion which certainly can not mean a literal closet. If it did then we would find it difficult to offer prayers unless we found our own physical closet to enter before offering a prayer. This Greek word tameion has a much deeper meaning. It means a chamber where all our treasures are stored.
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things, Matt. 12:35.
Our own heart is the treasure storehouse where our very thoughts come from.
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the hearts the mouth speaketh, Matt. 12:34.
When Matt. 6:6 says to shut the door of this closet it means to eliminate all outside interference and to concentrate on what we are saying. If we do not do so then can we expect Yahweh to hear our prayer?
As further evidence that this closet can not be taken literally, Paul writes to Timothy in I Tim. 2:8,
I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
Even Peter went upon the housetop to pray:
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour, Acts 10:9.
Yahshua prayed on a mountain side:
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray, Luke 9:28.
These Scriptures assert that the place where one offers a prayer to Yahweh is not important. What is important is our attitude when we pray. I Thes. 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing." There is never a place not proper to offer a prayer unto Yahweh.
Positions While in Prayer
Should one really worry about the position of our physical body when we pray? No, as the Scriptures tell us that there is not.
Hannah prayed while standing:
And she said, Oh my master, as thy soul liveth, my master, I am the woman that stood by thee here, pray unto Yahweh, I Sam. 1:26.
Yahshua kneeled down:
And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Luke 22:41.
Ezra and the people bowed their heads while in prayer:
And Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great Elohim. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped Yahweh with their faces to the ground, Neh. 8:6.
Paul tells Timothy that men should lift up their hands when in prayer:
I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting, I Tim. 2:8.
There is no Scripture which tells us what the proper position of our own body should be in before offering a prayer. If there was then would not Yahshua have told His disciples so when He was asked by them: “Master, teach us to pray” in Luke 11:1.
Job asked this very question: “What profit should we have, if we pray to Him?" Some may feel that praying is not effectual. Some may feel that prayers should be answered immediately. Some may feel it useless to pray because they do not receive an answer right away. This only shows us what human nature is. We expect an answer without delay. However, Yahweh knows what we are in need of even before we ask for it. Yahweh will make sure that if we follow Him that we shall receive all what is absolutely necessary at the proper time.
An atheist will not pray because he denies the very existence of a creator. An agnostic will not pray because he will usually deny the evidence that a creator even exists. Others may believe in the existence of a creator but not as the One who rules and guides our everyday life.
As we have already found out a prayer should come from the heart, should have both meaning and substance. Prayer is the only way we show our total dependence on Yahweh for all things. Prayer is the only way we can communicate with our Creator. Prayer is a way of showing our reverence toward Yahweh.
Prayer’s Basic Requirements
Much has been said concerning prayer. But what must be true in order that Yahweh will even hear our prayer? The basic requirement of a prayer being acceptable to Yahweh is not only what we say but what we do.
Now we know that Yahweh heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of Yahweh, and doeth His will, Him He heareth, John 9:31.
This Scripture plainly says that we must follow Yahweh and do His will even before Yahweh will listen to our prayer.
Peter agrees with this:
For the eyes of Yahweh are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of Yahweh is against them that do evil, I Peter 3:12.
David, at a time when he was in grief and felt oppressed because of his enemies, tells us in Ps. 6:8 and 9:
Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for Yahweh hath heard the voice of my weeping. Yahweh hath heard my supplication; Yahweh will receive my prayer.
This last Scripture tells us of a second, and as important, requirement when offering up a prayer to Yahweh. We must have faith that Yahweh will hear our prayers and answer them.
A third basic requirement of a prayer is that we must not harbor any sin in our hearts. David wrote in Ps. 66:18 “if I regard iniquity in my heart, Yahweh will not hear my prayer."
A last requirement has already been mentioned. We read in John 23:16
And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My Name, He will give it to you.
This verse says that when we pray to Yahweh we are to pray through Yahshua. Since we have no right to approach Yahweh directly we are to pray to Yahweh and make our petitions known through Yahshua, our Mediator and High Priest.
Mankind, by nature, is selfish. From the day of one’s birth man has to learn to become unselfish. This might be a hard lesson to learn for some. If things don’t go the way it is wanted man can become frustrated sometimes and unwilling to believe it might be the best if things go a different way.
When one prays the solution one receives may be something completely different than expected as Paul did. “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Master thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of the Messiah may rest upon me,” II Cor. 12:7 - 9.
When one prays one may receive more than what was prayed for as Solomon did. Solomon asked for wisdom and not for personal riches. Yahweh gave him not only wisdom but also riches, honor and long life, I Kings 3:7-14.
Man must remember that Yahweh’s will is what shall be done on earth and in the heavens. We can not expect immediate results when we pray; for if we do then our frame of mind is not correct - we are trying to usurp Yahweh’s will with our own.
When Moses prayed to Yahweh to be allowed to cross the river Jordan into the promised land Yahweh’s reply was: “Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto Me of this matter....for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.” Deut. 3:26 and 27.
The old saying that patience is a virtue is so true when it comes to unanswered prayer. We should never give up hope that our prayers will be answered. To pray without ceasing means that we should be persistent in our prayers, having faith that they will eventually be answered, remembering that Yahweh’s will prevails.
Prayer is a Necessity
Much scripture has been looked at in showing how important prayer should be in our life. Whenever one feels alone, commune with Yahweh and He will uplift you. In Ps. 145:17 we find that “He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him; He also will hear their cry, and will save them.”
When we pray to Yahweh we must have the proper frame of mind. We must pray fervently and sincerely, knowing He will hear the cries of the righteous: “The eyes of Yahweh are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry." Ps. 34:15.
We should use prayer to communicate with Yahweh. We must let our prayers be unselfish, praising Yahweh. We must understand that Yahweh’s will prevails. We must remember that through prayer we have access to the source of all power.
-Elder Roger G. Meyer
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