After This Manner, Pray . . .
Dr. Jay Worth Allen
Prayers in the Bible may be described as those of humiliation, those of supplication, and those of adoration. The first are expressions of repentance, and confession of sin. The second are expressions of faith, wherein we request God to supply the needs of ourselves and others. The third are expressions of veneration and love, wherein we are occupied with the perfections of God Himself, and pour out our hearts in worship before Him. The last are doxologies, which consist in magnifying the divine Being, celebrating His excellence.
The Lord’s disciples asked Him to teach them to pray (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). And He did.
“After this manner, pray . . .
Our Father (Matthew 5:9), who art in heaven (Job 22:12),
Hallowed (Psalms 145:17) be Thy name (Malachi 1:11).
Thy kingdom (1 Corinthians 15:24) come (Matthew 3:2).
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 26:39).
Give us this day our daily bread (Proverbs 30:8,9).
Forgive us our debts [trespasses] (Romans 3:23),
as we forgive our debtors [trespasses] (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).
And lead us not into temptation (James 1:14),
but deliver us from evil (the evil one).
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory, forever (1 Chronicles 29:11).
Amen (Psalms 106:4; Revelation 3:14).”
Christ has given us this prayer, and within this prayer, He has supplied a perfect model. In it He has taught us not only that it is our privilege to ask for those things which are needful for ourselves and fellow believers, but also to ascribe to God those excellences which pertain to Himself. The due consideration that He is our “Father which art in heaven” and the expression of the fervent desire, “Hallowed be Thy name” take precedence over presentation of our own requests. “Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory” is to be heartily acknowledged, and a sense of the same should remain upon our souls at the conclusion of our petitions. To praise and adore God for what He is in Himself is an essential part of our duty. We are required to respond to the call “Stand up and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever: and blessed be Thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise” (Nehemiah 9:5 KJV).
Some Additional New Testament Prayers
Both of the following passages from 1 Timothy are of the nature of magnifying the Lord’s divine Being. In them God is adored for what He is in Himself.
Prayer of Worship: (1 Timothy 1:17; 6:15-16).
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17).
“Which in His times He shall show, which is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only has immortally, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:15-16).
That is the chief end of worship is not to benefit ourselves, but to honor God. Many of our petitions begin and end with self, and therefore, in no way honor God.
Prayer and Praise: Romans 1:8-12.
“Whoso offers praise glorifies Me” (Psalm 50:23) is His own declaration. Praise is to be offered to God, not because He needs it, but because He is entitled to it, and because it is a testimony to our reverence, faith, and love for Him.
Instruction in Prayer: Romans 15:5-7.
Prayer in Hope: Romans 15:13.
Prayer for Peace: Romans 15:33
Prayer for Insight: 16:25-27.
Prayer for Weaker Brothers: 1 Corinthians 1:4-7.
Prayer Considering Tribulation: 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Prayer in Affliction: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Prayer for Benediction: 2 Corinthians 13:14
Prayer for Gratitude: Ephesians 1:3
Prayer for Faith and Knowledge: Ephesians 1:15-17
Prayer for Understanding: Ephesians 1:18
Prayer for Spiritual Apprehension: Ephesians 1:19-20.
Prayer for Appreciation of Christ’s Triumph: Ephesians 1:20.
Prayer of Adoration: Ephesians 1:20-23.
Prayer for Inner Strength: Ephesians 3:14-16.
Prayer for Christ-Centeredness: Ephesians 3:17.
Prayer for Comprehension of God’s Love: Ephesians 3:18-21.
Prayer of Doxology: Ephesians 3:20-21.
Prayer for Discerning Love: Philippians 1:8-10.
Prayer for Fruits of Righteousness: Philippians 1:11.
Prayer for a Worthy Walk: Colossians 1:9-10.
Prayer for Long-Suffering: Colossians 1:11-12.
Prayer for Joy and Thankfulness: Colossians 1:11-12.
“My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various temptations [or trails]” (James 1:2). We Christians are just as responsible to be joyous in adversity as in prosperity, when the devil rages against us as when he leaves us in peace for a season; and we will do so if our mind is properly employed and our heart delights itself in the Lord.
James does not exhort us to rejoice in the trails as such, but by an act of spiritual judgment to regard them as joyful. If we were possessed of more spiritual discernment, we should readily perceive that as the communication of saving grace to a soul is the greatest blessing which can be bestowed in this world, so the testing of that grace, exercised and brought forth to the glory of God, is the next greatest mercy. For that grace to approve itself to God in a manner well pleasing to Him, is a matter of vast significance and spiritual-weight. So, the genuineness of our faith being manifest by overcoming the world in esteeming the reproach of Christ’s greatest riches rather than the “treasures of Egypt”, by valuing the smile of God more than fearing the frowns of men, by firmly enduring persecution when others fall away (Matthew 13:21), brings much (or should bring much) comfort to our soul.
Prayer for Brotherly Love: 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13.
Prayer for Sanctification of the Young Saint: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.
Prayer for Persevering Grace Occasion and Importunity: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.
Prayer for Persevering Grace (Petition, Design, and Accomplishment): 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.
There more differences of opinion among sermonizers and commentators on this prayer than on any other in the New Testament. It is not easy to make a translation of the Greek into simple and intelligible English, as appears from the additions made in the Authorized Version, for the insertion of the italicized words quite alters the scope and meaning of its clauses. A good translation is: “Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness an the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NKJV). The best rendering I have found is Bagster’s Interlinear, which is as close and literal of the original Greek as can be given: “For which also we pray always for you, that you may count worthy of the calling of our God, and may fulfill every good pleasure of goodness and work of faith and power, so that may be glorified the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and of [the] Lord Jesus Christ.”
Overall, the best translations of the Hebrew of the Old Testament is found in the New International Version (NIV) and the best translations of the Greek of the New Testament is found in The New King James Version (NKJV). The New American Standard (NAS) provides a good translation of both, but it’s much too dry for my taste.
Prayer for Comfort and Stability: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.
Prayer for Love towards God: 2 Thessalonians 3:5.
Prayer for Patience: 2 Thessalonians 3:5.
“The Lord direct your hearts into the Love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ.” The Greek verb here rendered “direct” occurs twice elsewhere in the New Testament: in 2 Thessalonians 3:11, and in Luke 1:79, where it is translated “to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Literally the word signifies “to make thoroughly straight what has gone awry, to turn back or straighten what has become crooked.” The Christian’s heart is apt to return to its old bias and become warped: this prayer is for the righting of that fault. We are prone to allow our affections to wander from God and consequently make an idol of some creature; therefore we constantly need to beg Him to bind hearts to Himself, that our love may be unalterably fixed upon its true and only worthy Object. We all are prone to grow slack in the performance of duty, to become weary in doing good, especially when we meet with opposition and affliction; therefore we need to earnestly ask God for the grace of endurance, that our knees do not become feeble and that our hands do not hang down, but that we “hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”
A Conspicuous Omission of Prayer
As we’ve seen, much has been written about prayer in the New Testament. Numerous books have been penned on the subject of what is usually called “The Lord’s Prayer,” which I consider more of a “Family Prayer.” Browse through any Christian bookstore or seminary library and you’ll find a cornucopia of exegesis, analysis and commentaries on the high priestly prayer of Christ in John 17, but I can find only a handful of treatises on the prayers of the apostles. Strange indeed.
So I decided to investigate for myself. As I first began to survey the recorded prayers of the apostles two things impressed me and surprised me at the same time.
First off, in the book of Acts, which supplies us with the most information about the apostles, not one prayer of theirs is recorded in its twenty-eight chapters. I suppose this omission is in full harmony with its character because the book of Acts is much more a historical, rather than a devotional book - consisting of what the Spirit did through the apostles, rather than what He did in them. Acts records the public actions of the Lord’s ambassadors rather than their private practices. The book of Acts does show these men to be men of prayer: “We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). And we see them engaged in this holy exercise: “Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down and prayed”(Acts 9:40); “Peter went up on the housetop to pray” (10:9); “And when he had thus spoken, he knelt down and prayed with them all” (20:36); “And we knelt down on the shore, and prayed” (21:5); “Paul entered in, and prayed” (28:8); yet we are not told what they said in any of these prayers. The nearest we come to a documented prayer is in Acts 8:15, “Who when they were come down, prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit,” but what was said in this prayer is not recorded. The prayer of Acts 1:24 is a prayer of the hundred and twenty, and Acts 4:24-30 is a prayer of “their own company,” neither of these are an individual apostle’s prayer.
The second conspicuous omission, in all of the apostolic prayers, is that which occupies so much prominence in many Churches today. Not once do we find any of the apostles asking God to save the world or pour out His Spirit on all flesh. Neither did the apostles pray for the conversion of a city in which a particular Christian church was located. They, as we should, conformed their prayers to the teaching of Christ instead of the belching of men. “I pray not for the world,” He said, “but for them which You have given Me” (John 17:9). Now some may argue that He was praying for His immediate apostles or disciples, but He extended His prayer to His believing people to the end of time. “Neither pray I for these alone,” He continued, “but for them also who shall believe on Me through their word” (John 17:20). The Lord’s prayer was not for the world, not for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on all flesh, not for the conversion of a city or community or a particular street, not for unbelievers, but only for His believing people.
Before anyone’s neck-hairs are raised in furry, I will admit that the apostles did pray that prayers “be made for all (classes of) men; for kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) - in this most of us are woefully lax -yet this is not for their salvation but, “that we (the Church) may lead a quit and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (v2).
As the sweetness of honey is best known by the eating, so the ambrosia of the divine and spiritual are realized in the portion in which we are actually and actively engaged in them. May we all garner prayerful skills from the object lessons of the prayers of the Lord and His apostles.
After This Manner, Pray . . .
Study written: 25-30 October 2010 / Published 30 October 2010
*not yet published on Freed In Christ! blogsite.
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