Five Purposes of Prayer—from The Lord’s Prayer

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I am not sure that there is any one purpose of prayer, however, I think Jesus has given us some very good purposes for prayer in the model prayer that He gave to His disciples (Matt. 6: 9-13).  If we take the address of the prayer—“Our Father in heaven”—and the first three petitions—“Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”—we will come up with at least five purposes for prayer.  These I suggest are the overall purposes for prayer.

 

  1. “Our Father…” To better know God as our Father, to know that He loves and cares for us as a father. He wants us to know that we can depend on Him as a good Father, and that we should have no hesitation to ask Him for anything we need.

 

  1. “…in heaven.” To experience His greatness. God wants us to pray in such a way that we will experience and appreciate His greatness. As one who dwells in heaven He is far above us and is greater than we can imagine. He is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. Yet this great and awesome God loves us and cares for us.

 

  1. “Hallowed be Your name.” To hallow His name. God wants us to pray that His name would be hallowed. Hence, it is God’s purpose for prayer that it be used to convince the world that He is different: that He is holy, and that He is a God of love and grace. We can accomplish that purpose in prayer, especially by praying for our own holiness; for when we are different—when our minds and hearts are pure and when we love one another—the world will recognize that we are one of His disciples, and therefore will give glory to God (Matt. 5:16; Jn. 13:35).

 

  1. “Your kingdom come.” To bring in His kingdom. God wants us to pray that His kingdom would come into this world. In all the praying we do, our aim should be to bring Christ the King into the hearts of people in this world, that He will rule and reign in them—now and forever (Phil. 2:9-11). Likewise, it is our purpose in prayer to be always asking the Holy Spirit to bring us and keep us under Christ’s rule, that we would be fully satisfied with Him as our King.

 

  1. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” To pray that His will would be accomplished on earth just as it is in heaven. In all our praying, as we pray for the Fatherhood of God, for the greatness of God, for the holiness of God, and for the kingdom of God, overall, we must pray for the will of God—for all things are established by the will of God. If there is any one overall purpose of prayer, this would be it: that the will of God be done in all things—mainly to overcome what is sinful and evil in the world, so that the world would be as heaven. Along these same lines, our purpose in our prayers should always be to bring people in this world to salvation, and that they would be conformed to Christ’s image and would live forever in communion with Him (Read Revelations 21:1-7).

 

This post is an excerpt from my book Prayer A to Z: A Comprehensive Bible-Based Study of Prayer.

 

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Six Factors That Will Contribute To Unified Worship in the Coming Millennial Kingdom

Originally posted on Studying Bible Prophecy:

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  1. Idols and false worship will be removed. Zechariah 13:2 says,

 “And it will come about in that day,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land.”

 

God will no longer allow any false religions and cults to exist, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Atheism, Evolution, Freemasonry, the New Age Movement, Roman Catholicism, Transcendental Meditation, Satanism, the Occult, and all other such things.  And as the verse I quoted above says, God will remove even the memory of these false religions and their prophets.  I’m sure that secretly some, in their sin, will create all kinds of idols in their mind, but God will not allow any false religion to be established.  All public teaching will…

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Southern Baptist president calls 46,000 churches to “extraordinary prayer” for Great Awakening. Issues must-read (and free) E-book, “Pleading With Southern Baptists.”

Originally posted on Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog:

Book-PleadingWithSouthernBaptistsBOOK-pleading-pageThere is something very exciting happening in the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) I want to bring to your attention.

You may recall that last June I wrote that Dr. Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Churchin northwest Arkansas, had just been elected to be President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and that he was making prayer for a Third Great Awakening a top priority inside one of the world’s largest evangelical Christian denominations.

True to his word, Pastor Floyd has been traveling to all over the country, preaching on the need for deep repentance and revival inside the SBC.

Now, he has just released a free 16-page e-book titled, Pleading With Southern Baptists And Beyond(to humbly come together before God in Clear Agreement and in Extraordinary Prayer for the Next Great Awakening and for the World to be Reached for Christ).

I just finished it and it is…

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Freedom from the Fear of Death

Originally posted on Studying Bible Prophecy:

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In my devotions today I read these verses:

Hebrews 2:14-15

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

NASU

I thank God that I don’t fear death any longer. And on behalf of every abiding Christian, I thank God that He has released you from this fear of death.  But today I have been thinking about all those, especially older people, who have a great fear of death and the afterlife.  They fear death because they have no assurance of their salvation.  And, according to the above verses, they have had a fear of death all their lifetime.  I feel sorry for all of them.  I…

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How to Pray: Four Parts of Prayer

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The following four parts of prayer are not a formula or a guide for prayer. I am not suggesting that you should always pray in a certain order or even that you have to use all of the different parts of prayer whenever you pray.  I am just defining the different parts of prayer—showing you the different ways that you can pray.  When you pray you should always pray the way God leads you.  When you pray just talk to Him and say what is on your heart.  Try to communicate and commune with Him with your soul—your soul with His soul—and with words as much as possible.  Pray in a conversational style, using words and phrases that you normally use in conversation with a friend.  As you dialogue with Him, just let Him lead you in the type of prayer that He desires for you, whether it is confessional prayer, praise prayer, thanksgiving prayer, or petitionary prayer.  Sometimes you will pray in all of the four types of prayer, one at a time.  Other times you may pray using only two or three types of prayer, and sometimes only one type.

 

PRAYER AS CONFESSION

When we begin to pray, I suppose it is more natural to praise Him first, to say “Hallowed be Thy name.” But if there is unconfessed sin in the life, confession must come first; for the Psalmist tells us in Psalms 66:18 that if we regard iniquity in our heart the Lord will not hear us.  Also, in Isaiah 59:2 it says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

Though all sin is ultimately against God, we also sin against others, and they sin against us (Matt. 5:23-24). Even if you don’t feel that you have committed sin against anyone, if someone has something against you, that is something God requires you to deal with before you offer your gift of prayer to Him.  In fact, if you don’t make an effort to reconcile, you also will have sinned because you are being disobedient to God.

 

PRAYER AS PRAISE

Praise is how we express to God our love for Him. It is how we honor, reverence, and exalt Him.  In praise we acknowledge who He is.  We exalt Him and thank Him for His attributes and ways. It is our service to God and for God.

Though God desires His people to praise Him, and though we are the ones who praise Him, praise originates from the Holy Spirit. He is the one who works in us and causes us to praise Him.

Praise often emerges from our prayerful meditation of the Word of God, or as we are singing a hymn or a chorus. Accordingly, as we meditate and sing, the Holy Spirit will cause us to see a wonderful truth about God, which brings joy to our soul and moves us in our soul and spirit to lift Him up and exalt Him.

 

PRAYER AS THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving is much like praise, but it is more personal. Whereas in praise we give glory to God for all His works, for all time and toward all people, and for His attributes and ways, thanksgiving also seeks to honor God, but only for what He has done for us personally.  It is our gratitude to God for how He has blessed us.

I think this part of prayer can come either before or after praise. When we begin our prayers and we immediately feel gratitude for something, we naturally start our prayers with thanksgiving.  As we continue praying in the Spirit, our gratitude will normally overflow into praise.  Likewise, if we come to prayer having already meditated on how great and good God is, we will naturally begin our prayers with praise.  Then, moments later, it may be that God’s Spirit will work in us so that we begin to feel gratitude for something He has done for us personally; hence, prayers of praise will turn to prayers of thanksgiving.

 

PRAYER AS PETITION

This is the asking part of prayer, prayer that makes requests of God for things we desire. It is the part of prayer that is most used and is normally the part we think of when we think of prayer, or when the word “prayer” is used.  In fact, all of the Biblical (Hebrew and Greek) words translated as prayer mean to ask God for something.  And there are also words that mean to pray with petition that are not very often translated as “prayer,” but are translated as “wish,” “ask,” “make requests,” “beseech,” “entreat,” “desire,” and “supplication.”  All of these words mean basically the same thing: to ask with the prayer of petition.

Usually, when we think of making petitions, it is for our own personal needs. But we can also make petitions for others.  We sometimes call this intercession, or interceding for another.

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Prayer of Petition

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This is the asking part of prayer, prayer that makes requests of God for things we desire. It is the part of prayer that is most used and is normally the part we think of when we think of prayer, or when the word “prayer” is used.  In fact, all of the Biblical (Hebrew and Greek) words translated as prayer mean to ask God for something.  And there are also words that mean to pray with petition that are not very often translated as “prayer,” but are translated as “wish,” “ask,” “make requests,” “beseech,” “entreat,” “desire,” and “supplication.”  All of these words mean basically the same thing: to ask with the prayer of petition.

Usually, when we think of making petitions, it is for our own personal needs. But we can also make petitions for others.  We sometimes call this intercession, or interceding for another.

In a sense, I think all true prayer is intercessory because true prayer has a communal or corporate nature. That is, whenever we (as believers) pray for anything, we rightly include other believers around us.  We pray as Jesus taught us to pray, saying “Our Father” instead of “My Father.”  Thus, whenever we pray for our own needs our prayers are not only for ourselves but they are also (in a spiritual sense) for all other believers; hence, they are intercessory.

We should also think of non-believers. Though they are not included in our spiritual family, let us hope and pray that they will be.  They especially need our prayers of intercession.

I think there are degrees of intercession. The more we pray unselfishly for others the more I think our prayers are intercessory prayers.  If you are really serious about interceding for someone in prayer, you will position yourself to not only pray for him or her, but you will do for that person whatever God shows you to do.  True intercession then is giving your life for another—in prayer as well as in works of service.

The most important thing about our intercession for others is that we should not view ourselves as alone in doing it. We are really co-intercessors with Christ and the Holy Spirit.  We work together with Them.  The Holy Spirit is our intercessor on earth and in our spirit.  He tells us what to pray for and how to pray (Rom. 8:26).  Christ is our intercessor in Heaven.  By His continual pleading before the Father, He gives us access to God so that we may obtain mercy and find grace (Heb. 7:25).  Hence, with this divine team beside us and in us, we have all the power we need to intercede for others.

Some say that petitionary prayer (asking God for things for ourselves or for another) is the only kind of prayer there is—that this is all that prayer is. And the reason they say that is because all of the Biblical (Hebrew and Greek) words translated as prayer or that indicate prayer, mean to ask for something.  And this I admit is true. Reason tells us, however, that prayer is more than asking: it is just talking to God; it is soul to soul communication with God.

  1. Alton Bryant, editor of The New Compact Bible Dictionary, wrote,

 

As a many-faceted phenomenon, prayer must not be reduced merely to supplication, as is sometimes done. The immense sweep of Biblical teaching with respect to this phenomenon can scarcely be compressed into the single and rather crass category of ‘getting things from God,’ to quote the title of a once popular book by Charles A. Blanchard.  Prayer, essentially, is communion, a desire to enter into conscious and intimate relationship with the Thou who is our life (Ps. 63:1-8; Ps. 73:25-26; Luke 6:12; 1 John 1:3).  And the astonishing corollary of this truth is that God hungers for man’s fellowship (Rev. 3:20).  (The New Compact Bible Dictionary, edited by T. Alton Bryant, p. 472)

 

I agree. I think prayer goes beyond petition (drawing only on the Biblical words having to do with petitionary prayer) to include other types of communication such as confession, praise, and thanksgiving.  But I think, however, that the biggest part of prayer for most of us is petition, maybe up to 80% of prayer.  And that is because we are so needy.  I would hope that during the course of ones Christian life the other parts of prayer would increase, especially praise and thanksgiving.

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Prayer of Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is much like praise, but it is more personal. Whereas in praise we give glory to God for all His works, for all time and toward all people, and for His attributes and ways, thanksgiving also seeks to honor God, but only for what He has done for us personally.  It is our gratitude to God for how He has blessed us.

I think this part of prayer can come either before or after praise. When we begin our prayers and we immediately feel gratitude for something, we naturally start our prayers with thanksgiving.  As we continue praying in the Spirit, our gratitude will normally overflow into praise.  Likewise, if we come to prayer having already meditated on how great and good God is, we will naturally begin our prayers with praise.  Then, moments later, it may be that God’s Spirit will work in us so that we begin to feel gratitude for something He has done for us personally; hence, prayers of praise will turn to prayers of thanksgiving.

As I have indicated above, our prayers of thanksgiving will come to us when the Holy Spirit leads us. But we should not just sit and wait for that to happen. We are commanded to give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18), and we are also commanded to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

If we heed these two commands, our prayers of thanksgiving will become our constant attitude and act as one who is filled with the Spirit. As I see it, our thankfulness (or our attitude of gratitude) is evidence that we are obedient and Spirit-filled.  And this is pleasing and honoring to God (Rom. 1:21), for when we are thankful we show the world that we are a true believer and that we are grateful to God for the way He has loved us.  Likewise, we are telling God that we love Him.

This gratitude that we acquire by the Spirit is not just to be an attitude (as to always have a grateful attitude for everything); it also should be a separate part of prayer.  Therefore, God desires that we take time to verbalize in our prayers our gratitude for specific things that God has given us.

And we should also be thankful, and express to God our thanks, for the way He has helped and cared for others we love. We see this wonderfully exemplified in Paul’s letters.  Listen to two examples of how Paul thanked God for those he loved.

 

     1 Corinthians 1:4-8

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.

 

I mentioned above how thanksgiving-prayer is related to praise-prayer. Well, thanksgiving-prayer is also very much connected to, and aids the petition part of prayer.  As I see it, when we thank God first, before we make any petitions, as was the case in Paul’s prayers  (Phil. 1:3-6, 1 Cor. 1:4-8, Rom. 1;8-16, Eph. 1:15-18, Col. 1:3-5, and 1 Thess. 1:2-4), we in effect prepare our heart for petitional prayer.  It is the way God has designed for us to achieve the right attitude for making requests.

Also, as we see in Paul’s teachings, as well as in his prayers, thankfulness always accompanies true prayer (of petition).

In Philippians 4:6 it says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (italics added for emphasis).

Also, in Colossians 4:2 it says, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (italics added for emphasis).

Again, when Daniel prayed in Daniel 6:10, it says, “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (italics added for emphasis).

The concept of this teaching, I believe, is that we can not ask God for anything and please Him unless we are grateful. Therefore, when we make our requests we should also thank Him.  We can thank Him for many things, primarily for caring for us and loving us, and for the things He has already given us.  And we can thank Him for the privilege of asking and receiving.  For each thing we ask Him for we can, and should, thank Him for something.  When we ask Him to heal a certain part of our body, we should thank Him for the health we have so far enjoyed.  When we ask Him to keep our children safe, we ought to remember all the times that He has kept them safe, etc.

This principle of prayer is so important. Don’t forget it.  Without the thanksgiving part of prayer all your petitions will be unheard.  Whenever you pray and ask God for anything, you must include thanksgiving!

 

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