Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Catechism #40

Q. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is the offering up of our desires unto God, with confession of sin and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.

The New Testament speaks frequently about prayer; therefore, it is dangerous to take one verse about prayer, to the exclusion of all others, and form a dogmatic view. Instead, a believer would be wise to take all the verses about prayer into account when forming a conclusion.

For example, the Bible says to pray in faith (James 1:6-7), to ask in Jesus’ name (John 14:14), to make our requests to God (Philippians 4:6), and to pray for God’s will to be done (Matthew 6:10). To highlight just one aspect of prayer is to miss out on other equally important areas.

While it is true that we need faith, sometimes God will still not answer our prayers the way we want Him to. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He had perfect faith, and yet the Father did not grant Jesus His dying request. We have to balance our wants with God’s will, understanding that He might have something different in mind.

Prayer is more than just our giving God a wish list. It serves as our primary way of communicating with God and building our relationship with Him. In the model prayer Jesus demonstrated for the disciples the need to honor God (“Hallowed by thy name”), and Paul reminded the church of the importance of praying for others (Ephesians 6:18).

Prayer is also the means by which our sins are forgiven. The model prayer also includes the line, “forgive us our trespasses,” and we are promised that as often as we confess those sins, God is faithful to forgive and cleanse us (1 John 1:9).

The old hymn reminds us of the “privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.” We must not think of prayer as a religious ritual to please God, but as a benefit of being a child of God. We can cast our cares upon Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to “pray without ceasing,” or to always keep a line of communication with God open. He is waiting to hear from you.   

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