TUTP-2 - How, When, What of Prayer
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TEACH US TO PRAY
The Disciples of Christ said, “Lord teach us to pray,” Luke 11:1.
Welcome to our study on the beautiful subject of prayer. We'll be
thinking about some of the fundamentals of prayer; specifically: the how,
the what, and the when of prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” As we think about
the how, the who, and the what of prayer, we realize that Christians must
know and must be convicted of the importance of prayer and need for it in
their life. This is why Paul taught us to pray without ceasing. Never let there
be a time in your life when you can't pray to God. And we can surely see
that in the life of Jesus.
Do you remember Matthew 14:23? Jesus had been teaching the
multitudes. Jesus sent the multitudes away. He went up by Himself on the
mountain to pray. Jesus needed prayer in His life. Matthew 26:53, even in
that great moment of struggle in the garden Jesus said, “Do you not think
that I cannot now pray to my Father and receive 12 legions of angels to
help?” Jesus understood the power and need of prayer.
If we can be convinced of a correct understanding of what prayer is
and how it should be used, it'll help us to utilize that power in our own lives.
We begin by asking, what does the Bible say on the subject of
prayer? Let's talk about some of the prerequisites that are necessary for
one to pray as God wants him to. For example one must be taught how to
pray scripturally. It's not the case that I can just get up and pray any old
way that I want to, or say anything I want to, or do anything I want to in
prayer. You've got to be to be taught from the Bible by God how to pray
correctly. Luke 11:1 clearly teaches this. Jesus' disciples had heard John's
disciples pray. John had taught his disciples, and so the Disciples of Christ
came to Him. They said, “Lord teach us to pray as John also told his
disciples to pray.”
Wouldn't you have loved to sat at the feet of Jesus and learn how to
pray? Friend isn't that what we find in the Bible? We can hear Jesus pray.
We can see what Jesus taught His disciples, and what God's taught us to
pray. And I can learn how to pray the way God wants me to. In so doing, I
will pray in a way that will honor and magnify Almighty God.
As part of the prerequisites to prayer, let's also realize I've got to
pray, if I'm going to pray correctly, I need to pray with a firm belief and
commitment in God's ability to help, Mark 11:24, Matthew 21:22. We know
God knows what we need. We're taught to pray in faith with no doubt.
We're to seek, we're to knock, we're to ask, and we're to be convicted that
God can help us. This is why James said in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks
wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach it
will be given to him, but let him ask in faith with no doubting.” Why? “He
who doubts is like a wave of the sea tossed and driven by the wind.” If I'm
going to pray correctly, I need to have a commitment, a firm conviction,
God does hear. God does know, and because of my faith in God and the
evidence of Him, I know God wants me to pray and wants to help in my
time of need.
We're not talking about someone saying, ‘Well I hope God does this,
or if I pray God might care,’ or the wishful thinking, or best guess or any
doubt involved in that. We all pray in view of the Lord's will but when we
pray, we need to pray with conviction and commitment that God wants to
help us accomplish His will on this earth.
Then another prerequisite that is so important to prayer is we need to
pray according to the will of God.
I want you to notice what the Scripture says in 1 John 5 about this
idea. 1 John 5:15 specifically addresses the Christian praying in view of the
will of God, and as God would want him to pray. Here's what that verse
says, “and if we know He hears us whatever we ask, we know we have the
petitions we've asked of Him if,” verse 14 says, “If we ask according to His
will.” What's the will of God Taught to us in the Bible? It's what we as
Christians have the mindset of doing. It's what Jesus said in Matthew 27:46
and Matthew 26:39, “Not my will but thine be done.” We hear Christians
say sometimes, ‘if the things we pray for are according to Your will; we pray
that Your will accomplish those; if not, we pray that You'll defeat us in the
things that are not.’
Friend we want to have the mindset, ‘if this is your will.’ All that we
pray is contingent upon ultimately the will of God being done first, and His
ultimate plan being accomplished.
Then as another prerequisite, we want to have a humble attitude
when we pray. Luke 14:11 the Bible says, “Whoever humbles himself he’ll
be exalted, whoever exalts himself he’ll be humbled.”
Now let me ask you this question: do you ever see anybody in the
Bible who prayed with a haughty, self-righteous, ungodly attitude? Well
sure we do! You remember Luke 18? Listen to the story of the two men
who went up to the temple to pray. One had a great attitude, and the other
he felt like God needed him on his side. Listen to Luke 18:10. The Scripture
records, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the
other a tax collector,” now watch this Pharisee, “The Pharisee stood and
prayed thus with himself, ‘God I thank you I'm not like other men,
extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a
week. I give tithes of all that I possess.’” Can you imagine a man praying
like that? Imagine someone bowing their head and saying, ‘God thank you
that you've made me better than everybody else. Thank you that you didn't
make me like this tax collector, and by the way let me tell you why you
need me: I pray, I fast, and I give, look at what I do. Thank you for not
making like everybody else, and thank you that I am who I am.’
What a haughty self-righteous man! What about the tax collector?
The story goes on to tell us, the tax collector wouldn't even look up to
heaven. He beat his breast, and he said ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’
Jesus in essence said, ‘which of those two do you think God heard? Not
the one who was glad he was better nobody else and thought he was
righteous, but the one who knew he wasn't and needed God.’
Friend let's not let pray with the haughty, self-righteous, pious
attitude. We need to pray in humility of heart. We need to recognize, and
you me, when we've done all those things commanded us say, ‘I am an
unprofitable servant; I've only done that which was my duty to do,’ Luke
Now we mention another prerequisite, another how to prayer and it's
this, we need to make sure that we don't pray like the hypocrites. Matthew
6:5-7, Jesus condemned the hypocrites when He said, “They stand on the
street corners, they pray these long prayers, they have to be wearing the
right garments, they have to be in the right place, and have to make sure
everybody's watching them.” Jesus said, “They go halfway around the
world to make a disciple, then they make him twice as much the son of hell
What was wrong with those people? They wanted the glory; they
wanted to be looked up as the spiritual elite. They wanted everybody to
say, ‘Wow look at that man pray; He must be close to God.’ They weren't
giving God the glory in their prayer. They were trying to receive glory from
When we pray, we don't have to use the big words, not saying that's
in and of itself wrong, but we don't have to do it for everybody to look at us.
I don't have to pray a long prayer, so everybody can think ‘wow he really
knows how to talk to God.’ I don't have to use big words, big religious
words, so people can say ‘oh he's really smart in praying to God.’ Or we
don't have to do it in the right place and say so people can look at us, and
say ‘look at him he must be a spiritual person.’
If our mindset is to have people look at us when we pray, have
people think highly of us when we pray, friend we've missed the whole
purpose of what prayer is all about. Remember what Jesus said in contrast
to those hypocrites? Jesus said, “And you when you pray, don't stand out
on a street corner and do like they did instead,” He said, “go into your
upper room when you're in your upper room, shut the door, go into your
closet,” in essence, “as it were and when you pray, pray in secret to your
Father in secret. He blesses those who pray that way.”
Our prayers need to have a sense of humility and a sense of knowing
that God hears based on who we really are. Like the tax collector, “God be
merciful to me a sinner,” that's the attitude that we as Christians need to
Then as we think about a prerequisite to prayer, part of the ‘how’ we
need to recognize prayer should always be offered in the name of Christ.
John 14:13-14 Jesus said, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” 1
Timothy 2:5-6, “There is one God one mediator between man and God the
man Christ Jesus Himself.” Who is the mediator? Christ. Who do we pray
through? Christ. Whose name and authority do we pray in? The name and
the authority of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christians don't close the
prayer in Jesus' name because that's what we've done for a thousand
years 2000 years. We do that because that's how God, that's how Christ
has taught us to pray scripturally in the Bible, to honor Him; and to show
Him as our mediator as our dependence is given upon Him in every way.
You know as we think about part of the ‘how’ of prayer, we also need
to realize that scriptural prayer, prayer that honors God, is a prayer that is
thought about, prayer that is given with the spirit and understanding. We
often apply this to singing, but the verse also applies it to prayer. Paul said
in 1 Corinthians 14:15, “I will pray with the spirit, and I'll pray with the
understanding, I'll sing with the spirit, and I'll sing with the understanding.”
What's that mean? If I'm going to pray with the spirit and sing with the spirit,
my person is involved in that. My emotion, it’s heartfelt, my intellect is
involved in that as well. So I'll pray with the spirit and with the
understanding. That means that our prayers don't need to be just verbiage
that we've always heard. So, we say it as well. It doesn't need be some
wrote words that somebody said, and we kind of like those one time, and
so, we work it into our prayer.
No matter what prayer needs come from the heart. Prayer needs to
be thought about. When I pray, and this is a struggle that we all have at
times, when we pray we need to stay focused. We need to really think
about what we're saying. We need to communicate with God. We need to
do our best not to let our mind and our heart wander in times like those.
That's real prayer and singing with the spirit and with the understanding.
Let's also realize this, as part of the ‘how’ in praying correctly, I must
pray, I must pray in such a way that not only honors and glorifies God, but
to pray correctly I need to be right with God and with my brother. To have
prayer be what God wants it to be, I've got to be in a relationship with God.
Again we mention the verse in Psalm 66:18. “God heareth not the prayer of
sinners.” John 9:31 and Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the
Lord will not hear.” Proverbs 28:9, “He turns His ear away from hearing the
law the Lord doesn't hear that man's prayer.” “His face is set against those
who do evil,” 1 Peter 3:12.
So for prayer to be what is designed to be, for it to be effective for
God to hear it, I've got to be in a relationship with the Father. To talk to the
Father, I've got to be a child of the Father. I've got to be a son or daughter
Then as a Christian and as part of the requirements for prayer, not
only do I have to make sure I'm in a right relationship with God, trying to
walk in the light, trying to do what God wants me to; I need to also look at
my relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Not only must I love
the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I've got to love
my neighbor as myself. How's my relationship with other Christians? Is
there anybody who I've offended or sinned against that I've not made right?
Let me show you the words of Jesus. Let me share with you the words of
Christ as it related that this in Mark 11. Listen to what Jesus says in verse
25. Jesus said, “And whenever you stand pray if you have anything against
anyone forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive your
trespasses, but if you do not forgive neither will your Father in heaven
forgive you your trespasses.”
If I stand to pray and I realize I've got a fault with somebody,
somebody's got a fault with me, I need to be ready and willing to forgive, if
that person is willing to repent. You know you see the example of
somebody is at the altar, and they realize their brother has a fault with
them. They leave their sacrifice at the altar. Make it right with your brother,
and then come worship God. There's the idea of prayer is dependable on
my relationship with God being right, and my relationship with others also
be what God wants it to be.
Now let's speak a little more specifically about maybe a practical
plan. How does God want me to pray? What's a plan for prayer as found in
the Scripture? We can be rest assured by knowing that God has taught us
how to have a good practical plan, an everyday approach for prayer. Prayer
according to the pattern of Jesus ought to be one of the first things we do
when the foot hits the floor every morning. The Bible says of Jesus in Mark
1:35, “In the morning a great while before daylight He departed, went to a
solitary place, and prayed.” Think about this. First thing in the morning, a
great while before daylight. Jesus likely got up early. It was one of His first
thoughts in the morning. Jesus got away from the rat race of life, and He
took time to pray to God. Could you think of a better way to start your day
than with prayer?
Secondly prayer ought to be made especially for parents. If you don't
have this habit, you've got to work very difficult, very hard at it. Parents
ought to teach their children to make a good habit out of prayer. Friend
there's nothing wrong with having a good habit of prayer. Daniel had that.
Daniel 6:10 listen to this, “As was his custom from early days from
childhood, Daniel prayed three times that day with his window open toward
Jerusalem.” Who taught Daniel that custom? Likely his parents. It was a
habit. Daniel had a habit of praying three times every day. It was a part of
his life like brushing his teeth, like eating cereal in the morning, whatever it
may be, like combing your hair, or taking a shower. Daniel had a good habit
A person needs to develop that kind of habit in his own life. Prayer to
really follow the plan God wants it to be, it ought to be a private time
between you and God. ‘Go into your upper room, when you're there close
the door pray to your Father.’ It ought to be a time just between a man and
God. A time when a man can get down on his hands and knees and
communicate with the Father to pray in thanksgiving, to pray in adoration,
to pray asking God for certain things, whatever it may be; we each need
that time to communicate directly and personally with Almighty God.
You know, a biblical plan that we find is morning, noon, and evening.
Listen to the words of Psalm 55. I want you to notice a plan that the
psalmist set forth in Psalm 55:17. The psalmist said these words about his
own plan for prayer. He said in Psalm 55:17, “Evening and morning and at
noon I will pray and cry aloud and He shall hear my voice.” Evening,
morning, and noon, there was a plan. He had a set time. He wanted to do
that. As long as it's with the spirit and understanding, there's nothing wrong
with having a set pattern when we pray.
When we talk to God, Friend let's realize this, prayer really ought to
be kind of a constant in our life. I'm not saying everything we do is a prayer.
I'm not saying from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed you're
always in prayer, but there ought never to be a time when we can't pray.
Acts 2:42, “They continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and
fellowship breaking of bread and in prayers.” “Pray without ceasing,” 1
So in our life, let's make sure that there's never a point when we're
too proud or haughty or to discourage to get down and ask God for His
help, His Thanksgiving in times when we live our life.
Then we want to offer kind of maybe a prescribed method of prayer,
prescribed way from Scripture of things that we specifically ought to
mention in prayer. What should I pray for when I pray? Have you ever
thought about that? What does the Bible say specifically that a Christian
ought to pray for? Here are some of those things.
We ought to first pray for the lost. Jesus said, ‘pray the Lord of hosts
that He'll send laborers into his harvest.’ When we pray, we want to pray for
those who never obeyed the gospel. Do we really believe and realize that
the majority of this earth's population is going down the path that's going to
lead to eternal destruction? If so and if Jesus taught us to pray for the lost,
friend that ought to be something that's a regular part of our prayer.
Secondly as we think about what to pray for, we ought to pray to
overcome sin and Satan in our own life. “Men ought always to pray and
never lose heart or get discouraged.” Jesus taught us in Matthew 6, ‘to pray
that our trespasses would be forgiven as we forgive those who've sinned
against us.’ Again the idea that we want to pray to overcome sin and
overcome Satan, ‘Deliver us not or lead us not into temptation but deliver
us from the evil one,’ Matthew 6:6-12.
We also as Christians want to pray for forgiveness of sin. None of us are
perfect. The Bible teaches us clearly that, “there is none righteous no not
one,” Romans 3:1-10. As Christians when we pray, we need to have the
attitude and the mindset that if we have unwittingly, unknowingly violated
the will of God, if we're trying to walk in the light, and we have unknowingly
violated the will of God, and we need to pray that God will forgive us. And if
we know specifically for sure that there's sin in our life, Peter taught Simon,
“pray the evil thought of your heart might be forgiven you,” Acts 8:22-24.
And repenting of those sins surely we need to have the attitude, ‘I'm going
to pray to God and ask him for help in overcoming this.’
Then as Christians, the Bible teaches that prayer should be offered
for those who are sick and those who are suffering. ‘If any among you sick
let him call for the elders the church, let them pray over him.’ Prayer has
the ability to help those who're suffering, to help those who are sick. ‘May
the God of all comfort you in your trouble,’ Paul would say in 2 Corinthians
As Christians we also want to pray for those who are living in error.
It's sad, but there are at times those who do fall away from the truth. There
are those who fall away from living faithfully as God wants them to do. I
cannot replace prayer with going to talk to them, but both ought to work
together in encouraging them and teaching them. I ought to pray for them
as well. 1 John 5:16 clearly teaches we pray for those who are in error. And
we want to pray that they'll come back to the truth and obey the gospel of
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
But friend I'll assure you this is something that we all need to pray for.
Don't we need to pray for wisdom? ‘If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask
of God.’ Why? ‘Who gives to all liberally and without reproach.’ I need to
pray for the ability. And here is what wisdom is, wisdom differs, is different
from facts in that facts are the knowledge. Wisdom is the ability to take that
knowledge and plug it into my life. Tomorrow I need the ability to
understand how have the wisdom to know how to put God's truth, insert
God's truth into my daily life. Friend surely we want to pray for the wisdom
to know how to do that.
I want to pray for the necessities of life. Philippians 4:6-9, we're to
pray for those needs. James 4:3-4, the things that we need we ought to ask
for those things. I want to pray, and friends listen carefully, there's nothing
wrong with praying before one eats. 1 Timothy 4:4-5, ‘our food is sanctified
by the word of God and prayer.’ God said it's okay to eat it so that's why.
Secondly it's set apart by prayer there's nothing wrong with praying before
a person eats. In fact, the Scripture does teach that is something that the
child of God ought to do.
We want to mention specifically in the day and age especially in
which we live, we want to mention one other thing. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 Paul
said, “I desire therefore that men pray for kings all who are in authority that
we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”
What ought we to pray for? We ought to pray for our world leaders. We
ought to pray for our national leaders. We ought to pray for our elected
leaders. We ought to pray for our government, and more than anything, we
ought to pray that they'll start doing, if they're not, they'll start doing the will
of God that this country can be one nation under God, and that God's will
and the word of God will be that which we really guide our life and our
So, these are things practically every day that a Christian ought to
Friend we hope that this lesson has been an encouragement to every
one of us to really utilize the power of prayer.
Remember, “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man
overcomes much.” Let's use prayer, for prayer has powerful results.
Study Questions for: “Prayer: Lesson 3”
1. What did the disciples ask Christ for in Luke 11:1?
2. What should we ask God for according to James 1:5?
3. How should we ask God for things in prayer according to 1 John 5?
4. In Matthew 27:46 and Matthew 26:39, Jesus prayed for what?
5. What kind of attitude should we have according to Luke 14:11?
6. In Luke 18, which man approached God correctly? Why?
7. According to John 14:13-14, how should we ask for things in prayer?
8. Who is the mediator between man and God according to 1 Timothy
9. According to Proverbs 28:9, who does God turn his ear away from?
10. What was the psalmist prayer plan in Psalm 55?