Most people pray even though many do not know HOW to pray. This shows that man has a spirit and is different from animals. A man in trouble will often cry to God to help him, but no animal will do so. Even unbelievers will pray to God when they are having difficulties, and sometimes God answers them and delivers them. He did this with the sailors who threw Jonah into the sea, Jonah 1:14-16. God hears the prayers of all men, when they pray and confess their sins to Him, Psalm 65:1,2. However, only true believers can really pray to their Father, the all-wise, all-loving and all-powerful God.
There are many examples of prayer both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Men began to pray to God in the days of Seth, Genesis 4:26, and in the last chapter of the Bible, we read that the Spirit and the Bride (the Church) will pray for the Saviour to return, Revelation 22:17,20. In Old Testament times, prophets prayed, so did priests and kings.
Look at the following verses [in context of the surrounding passage] to find out who was praying:
Abraham prayed, and so did all of Israel's leaders, such as: Moses, Joshua, Solomon, Elijah, Daniel and Nehemiah.
In the New Testament, our Lord was often seen speaking to His Father in prayer. We find Him praying seven times in Luke, the Gospel which tells about Him as a Man. During His whole life, the Saviour prayed to the Father. Luke records His prayer at the time He was baptized (Luke 3:21), and at the time He placed His spirit in God's hands (Luke 23:46). In the book of Acts and the 21 epistles, there are many more examples of prayer.
The Lord Jesus Christ gave us a perfect pattern in Matthew 6:9-13. He did not intend us to use the exact words of this prayer again and again; and we do not read that the Christians in the early Church did so. The Lord did intend that this prayer should be a pattern to teach us several important things:
Christians are commanded to pray. Be sure to look up these verses: Matthew 7:7; 26:41; Philippians 4:6; James 1:5.
WHEN should we pray? We should pray at all times and on every occasion. It is wonderful to know that God always hears our prayer. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Colossians 4:2; Ephesians 6:18.
WHERE should we pray? Paul said that men should pray everywhere, 1 Timothy 2:8.
HOW should we pray? Before Christ died on the cross, the curtain or veil in the temple separated the people from a holy God, Luke 1:10. Even before the temple was built, Israel stood at a distance while Moses approached the dark cloud where God was, Exodus 20:21. But when Christ died, the curtain in the temple was torn into two pieces and believers no longer need to remain at a distance. God now invites them to come near, Hebrews 10:19-22. Every believer may now come directly to the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 2:18. God is satisfied with the payment for sin which Christ made; and now we may approach His throne and find grace to help just when we need it, Hebrews 4:16.
We may come boldly, but we should also come humbly, judging ourselves. We must remember that our heavenly Father is also the Eternal God, and those who approach Him must do so with respect and fear, Psalm 89:6,7, and with clean hands and a pure heart, Psalm 24:3,4.
Romans 8:23,26,27 show that the Holy Spirit tells God about the burdens and groans of our hearts. We should allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in our prayers and we should always pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 6:18; Jude 1:20. Therefore, a person is not really praying at all when he just reads a prayer which someone else has written.
We should pray in Christ's Name, John 14:13,14. This does not mean that we should just finish our prayers by adding the words ''in Christ's Name, Amen.'' When we pray in His Name, we pray by His authority, with His permission. But this is only possible if our prayers agree with His will as revealed in the Word of God, 1 John 5:14,15. Let us also remember that God will answer our prayers only if we obey Him in our daily lives, John 15:7. We should not just pray in a general way, but we should ask God for exactly what we want. For example, the believers in Jerusalem prayed for Peter when he was in prison, Acts 12:5. We should keep on praying when God does not answer us immediately, Luke 11:5-10; 18:1-8.
James tells us that the prayer of a righteous man has a great effect, James 5:16. Prayer in itself has no power and does not cause things to change, but as we pray, the Holy Spirit can work and do the things we ask for. Elijah is a good example of this, James 5:17,18.
We know that God does not answer all our prayers, and that He does not always answer them the way we desire. However, let us remember that God might answer later, if He does not do so right away. God loves us and will give us only what is best for us.
God will not answer a believer's prayer -