How To Pray

Prayer is Like Incense

Incense typifies "the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5:8; 8:3-4). "Let my PRAYER be set forth before you as INCENSE; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice" (Ps. 141:2). This incense offering was performed TWICE a day, every morning and evening (Exod 30:7, 8) -- indicating a minimum of TWO prayers to God per day. "My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up" (Psalm 5:3). Our prayers should not be "sour" or "bitter" but "SWEET" like incense (cp. Ex. 30:34-38). "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight" (Pr. 15:8). They must be beaten "SMALL" or DETAILED, not mere vague generalizations -- "My speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain" (Deut. 32:2) -- and must be "HOT" (Rev. 3:15-16) or "FERVENT" (James 5:16) so the incense rises. Otherwise it doesn't give off its aroma and is dead, lifeless, useless (Matthew 15:7-8)! Therefore talk about issues of importance to you. Areas of concern. "When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words" (Matthew 6:7). They won't!

"In My Name"

Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.... Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23-24)!

Three times Daily

"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice" (Ps. 55:17). Daniel "kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime" (Dan. 6:10). "The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve" (James 5:16; CEB).

"The gods, the great and only wise,
Are moved by offerings, vows, and sacrifice.
Offending man their high compassion wins,
And daily prayers atone for daily sins."
-- Homer, Iliad 9:493

"Ask, and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7:11; Luke 11:13).

He prays but faintly, and would be denied;
We pray with heart and soul, and all beside. -- Shakespeare

A soul, where settled virtue reigns enshrined,
Where justice dwells, with sanctity combined,
Such is the sacrifice the Gods demand:
A cake suffices, from a spotless hand."
-- Persius

"Thou art my path; direct my steps aright;
I have no other way, no other light:
I'll trust my God, and Him alone pursue;
His law shall be my path; His heavenly light my clue."
-- Quarles
"The gods above with favoring ear
The prayers of pious mortals hear."
(Pindar Olymp. 8:10)

"Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees."

"The weakest atheist wretch all heaven defies,
But shrinks and shudders when the thunder flies." -- Homer

Mighty faith the promise sees
And looks to that alone
Laughs at impossibilities
And shouts, "It shall be done."

"And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh, that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested" (1 Chr. 4:10).

"Depth of mercy, can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God his wrath forbear?
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face;
Would not hearken to His calls;
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

Jesus answer from above:
Is not all Thy nature love?
Wilt Thou not the wrong forget?
Suffer me to kiss Thy feet?
If I rightly read Thy heart,
If Thou all compassion art,
Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow,
Pardon and accept me now!

Pity from Thine eye let fall;
By a look my soul recall;
Now the stone to flesh convert,
Cast a look and break my heart:
Now incline me to repent;
Let me now my fall lament;
Now my foul revolt deplore;
Weep, believe, and sin no more."
-- C. Wesley

Remove Shoes From Feet (Ex. 3:5) and Get On Your Knees

And pray on your knees during your daily prayers (Psalm 95:6, Luke 22:41), unless it is physically impossible for you to do so. Of course, in emergencies, or when you simply have a spare moment and would like to talk to God, you may pray wherever you are. "Pray without ceasing," says I Thessalonians 5:17. Many Christians are "STIFF-NECKED" and therefore unwilling to bow their heads touching the ground. Notice how Esther spoke to the King of Persia, "If it please the king, and if I have favor in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes ..." (8:5). Should we talk to God our King any less respectfully? "Blest is the man who pays the Gods above, The constant tribute of respect and love" -- Homer's Iliad

Why Doesn't God Answer Our Prayers?

"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear, but your INIQUITIES have separated between you and your God, and your SINS have hidden his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isa. 59:1-2). "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3). "If I regard INIQUITY in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Ps. 66:18). "Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too shall cry out and receive no answer" (Pr. 21:13). "As he (the prophet) cried, and they would not hear (via the Bible), so they cried, and I (God) would not hear (via prayer)" (Zech 7:13). "I won't hear you" when you complain about your human government you chose RATHER THAN ME (1 Sam. 8:18); when you won't listen to the request of the POOR (Prov. 21:13); when you won't hear the WORD of the LORD (Zech. 7:7-13); when you celebrate LENT and EASTER Sunrise services (Ez. 8:18) and when you HATE the GOOD and LOVE the EVIL (Micah 3:1-4). "When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood (ABORTION; NIDDAH). Wash you, make you clean: put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow" (THIRD TITHE; FORGOTTEN SHEAVES, CORNERS OF FIELD) (Isa. 1:11)

Why Does God Let Us Suffer?

"It is not for man to direct his own steps" (Jer. 10:23). "We are bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:18-20). "If we love him, we keep his commandments" (John 14:15) -- not for reward or blessing. God answers prayer, but not as a reward or something we earn, but we must be obedient to receive answers and must believe in his Son. Job kept God's commandments, but was afflicted. Joseph also suffered, even though righteous. All the OT prophets were persecuted, yet righteous, and NT apostles were persecuted, though righteous. Our Lord foremost among us has suffered undeservedly and we are told "If they have hated me they will hate you, if they have persecuted me they will persecute you. To claim promises such as protection, health or wealth is not the full picture. God also promises "much tribulation", "persecution" and "fiery trial" and "overcoming". We owe him everything and he owes us nothing. It is our duty to serve him regardless.

Luke 17:7-10 says, "But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."

How can the clay say to the potter "Why have you made me like this?" (Rom. 9:20-21). We should ask for His mercy individually (9:15-16,18,23) because whosoever asks will be given (Matt. 7:7; John 4:10; Rom. 8:32). God has the prerogative to do as he pleases with his creation. "I will be whatever I will be" is his name. He owns each one of us three times over. First he made us. Second, we are each kept alive by his creation (food; air; water; sun; invisible laws). Third, He bought us with the blood of his son. Therefore, let us not get bitter when he allows us to suffer. Yet notice that this Great God is fair. He repaid Nebuchadnezzar for destroying Tyre. He repaid Joseph for spending 13 years in prison. People do reap what they sow.

How To Get Answers To Prayer

"As he (the prophet) cried (in the pages of the Bible), and they would not hear, so they cried (in prayer), and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 7:13). If we do what He asks through the pages of the Bible, He will do what we ask through prayer. "Do His will as if it were your own, so that He will do your will as if it were His. Nullify your own will before His so that he will nullify the will of others before you" (Pirke Avot 2:4). "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (I John 3:22). "The apostles said unto the Lord, INCREASE OUR FAITH" (Luke 17:5). But Christ replied "SERVE ME ... and AFTERWARD thou shalt eat and drink" (be given FAITH) (17:8). In other words, OBEY the Bible FIRST, then you will be given MORE FAITH.

How Can Prayer Prove the Bible True? -- Claiming PROMISES We Can Rely On

God makes his promises come to pass. "Ask and you shall receive" (Matt. 7:7). "Call upon me in the time of trouble and I will answer thee and thou shalt glorify me" (Ps. 50:15). "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." (Ps. 81:10) "But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.... thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified." (Isaiah 43:22-26). "Call upon him while he is near" (9 am, 12 noon, 3 pm; Sabbath and festival) "But seek ye first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself to do God's will, and he will give you the desires of your heart" (success, fame and fortune). "The mercy of the Eternal is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children, To such as keep his covenant, and to those who remember his commandments to do them" (Ps. 103:17-18). Also Jer. 29:11 "They who trust in the Lord shall never be confounded" (Rom. 10:11). "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Ps. 84:11) "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32). "He who loves his neighbor and lends money to the needy in his need, concerning him it is written: 'Thou shalt call and I shall answer'" (Yebamoth 62). Also "never turn away thy face from any poor man, carelessly, or scornfully, and then the face of the Lord shall not be turned away from thee" (Tobit 4:11) "And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise" (Heb. 6:15). "I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked" (Jer. 15:21). "Call unto me and I will answer thee and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not" (Jer. 33:3).

Psalm 34 says, "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate."

Blessing, Praise and Gratitude

Job was worried that his sons may have "FORGOTTEN to BLESS God" in their hearts (Job 1:5). The rush withers before any other herb. "So are the paths of all who FORGET God" (Job 8:13). Moses warned the Israelites, "When thou hast eaten and art full, then shalt thou BLESS the Lord thy God, for the good land which he hath given thee: Beware that thou FORGET NOT the Lord thy God." Deuteronomy 8:10 says, "BLESS the Lord , O my soul, and FORGET NOT all his benefits" (Ps. 103:2). The King James Version uses ‘bless the Lord’ many times, but the more modern translations render it ‘praise the Lord.’ The Hebrew word translated ‘bless’ or ‘praise’ means literally ‘to kneel’, the implication being to kneel in worship. Notice the Bible definition of BLESS: "I will BLESS the Lord at all times; his PRAISE shall continually be in my mouth."

Frances Havergal (1836-1879) wrote a hymn that beautifully expresses praise to God. The problem is that humans sing this hymn without realizing that they are making promises to God -- taking an oath. They have no intention of fulfilling their promises. Therefore, we have inserted parenthetical remarks so that the promises are much less binding -- and more people can sing along.

Take my life and let (part) be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take (some) moments and (some) days,
Let them flow in (highest) praise.

Take my hands and let them move
(In accordance with) Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
(Sometimes travelling with) Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,
(Sometimes) only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
(Sometimes) messages from Thee.

Take (some) silver and (some) gold,
(But leave enough for when I'm old).
Take my intellect and use
(Some good thoughts that) Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and "make it Thine,"
(But this is no oath of) mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It (may) be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I (may) be
(Sometimes), only, all for Thee.

Jesus' Sample Prayer Outline

Jesus explains in Matthew 6:9, "In this manner, therefore, pray." In verses 9 through 13, He went on to give a basic outline you should follow when you enter your private place (verse 6) to converse with God the Father. Of course, the exact words you should speak are not these. Jesus was teaching that you should take His outline and enlarge upon it. Let's examine this sample prayer:

Our Father in heaven (verse 9) -- Through the indwelling of the holy spirit we become children of God and heirs of salvation. Besides concentrating on this special relationship with your majestic Father in heaven, humbly remember how, as He sits on his throne, He exercises complete control of all the universe. You must develop a deep awareness that God truly is your great Father in heaven.

Hallowed be Your name -- His name is not to be blamed or defamed. His is good and righteous and perfect.

Your kingdom come (verse10) -- The disastrous problems of this world will cease in the coming world tomorrow, and an age of happiness and harmony will prevail! God wants us to look beyond this world and take a special interest in the coming utopia.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. -- Doing God's will is a requirement for salvation (Matthew 7:21). This is illustrated in detail by the many star charts found in scripture that coincide with the events on earth from Genesis to Revelation.

Give us this day our daily bread (verse 11) -- Each day you have pressing needs that weigh heavily on your mind. You should bring these, as well as the needs of others, before God. But don't bring them in a selfish attitude (James 4:3). Instead, be loving and thankful. Think of the needs of others as well as your own (Philippians 2:3-4, 6).

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (verse 12). Debts refer to sins that need to be forgiven by God. Besides repenting before God (I John 1:9), you must be willing to forgive others when they repent (Luke 17:3-4). If you are harsh and spiteful, God won't forgive your sins.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (verse 13) -- Ask God to protect you from Satan the devil. Ask God to give you the desire to obey Him, "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever -- "The words of Jesus' model prayer to his disciples sum up all the above when he says to the Father: 'YOURS is the kingdom (the agenda, the program, the project); YOURS is the power (the supply, the energy, the accomplishing ability); YOURS is the glory' (the praise, the credit, the honor for what has occurred)."

Why Pray For Others?

"Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy" (Matt. 5:7). " Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7-8) for every seed yields "fruit after its kind" (Gen. 1:11). "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6). "Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free" (Eph. 6:8) "The generous man will be enriched; And he who waters will himself be watered" (Pr. 11:25; AAT). "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38). "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matt. 7:12). Why? Because you reap what you sow is implied.

"Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see,
That mercy I to others shew,
That mercy shew to me." -- Alexander Pope

"O Thou, whose power over moving worlds presides,
Whose voice created, and whose wisdom guides,
On dark man in pure effulgence shine,
And cheer the clouded mind with light divine.
'Tis thine alone to calm the pious breast
With silent confidence and holy rest:
From Thee, great God, we spring; to Thee we tend;
Path, motive, guide, original, and end." --Boethius
"Give me, O Father, to thy throne access,
Unshaken seat of endless happiness!
Give me, unveiled, the source of good to see!
Give me thy light, and fix mine eyes on Thee!"
-- Boethius

But don't "strengthen the hands of evil doers" (Jer. 23:14). “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? Therefore is wrath upon thee from the Lord” (2 Chr. 19:2). "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 10-11).

Imprecatory Prayer

We find Christians DEFIANTLY praying AGAINST their ENEMIES just as David did in Psalm 35:1-6 where he said, "FIGHT AGAINST those who fight against me.... Let them BE CONFOUNDED and PUT TO SHAME ... let them BE TURNED BACK and BROUGHT TO CONFUSION ... Let them BE as CHAFF ... Let their way BE DARK and SLIPPERY" etcetera. "DESTROY thou them, O God" (Ps.5:10). "Let DEATH SEIZE upon them" (Ps.55:15; cp. 109:9). "BREAK thou the ARM of the wicked" (Ps.10:15). "SCATTER THEM ... BRING THEM DOWN ... CONSUME THEM IN WRATH" (Ps. 59; see also Ps.69, 79, 83, 94, & 140). "And David saith, Let their table be made a SNARE, and a TRAP, and a STUMBLING BLOCK, and a RECOMPENSE unto them" (Rom.11:9). Or as Zechariah said, "The Eternal look upon it (the evil), and REQUIRE it" (i.e. "avenge me") (2 Chr.24:22). We also read that Jeremiah was commanded by God to "PRAY NOT FOR this people" (Jer.7:16; 11:14; 14:11; cp.18:18-23) because their sins were so great. Or as Paul stated in 2 Timothy 4:14: "Alexander, the coppersmith, did me much evil; THE LORD REWARD HIM ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS," and in 1 Corinthians 16:22: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA MARANATHA (Literal Aramaic means "Let him be ACCURSED at Christ's coming")" (cp. Gal.1:8). Christian martyrs in the middle ages are even pictured as praying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not JUDGE AND AVENGE OUR BLOOD ON THEM that dwell on the earth?" (Rev.6:10). Those who find such prayers offensive, need to be reminded of the scripture that says, "As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the CURSE CAUSELESS shall not come." (Pr. 26:2).


Hebrew "emun" means "RELIABILITY" (Deut. 32:20 or Hab. 2:4). The word "Amen" solemnly CONFIRMS that which went before. The root "aman" means "to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe."

The word "amen" is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the NT, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best-known word in human speech. The word is directly related -- in fact, almost identical -- to the Hebrew word for "believe" (aman), or "FAITHFUL." Thus, it came to mean "sure" or TRULY," an expression of absolute trust and confidence. When one believes God, he indicates his faith by an "amen". When God makes a promise, the believer's response is "amen" -- "so it will be!" (I AGREE.) In the NT it is often translated "verily" or "TRULY." When we pray according to His Word and His will, we know God will answer, so we close with an "amen," and so also do we conclude a great hymn or anthem of praise and faith. The word is even a title of Christ Himself. The last of his letters to the seven churches begins with a remarkable salutation by the glorified Lord: "These things saith the Amen, the FAITHFUL and TRUE witness, the beginning of the creation of God" (Rev 3:14). We can be preeminently certain that his word is always FAITHFUL and TRUE, because He is none other than the beginning of his Father's new creation, and thus he is our eternal "Amen." As 2 Cor 1:20 reminds us, every promise of God in Christ is "yea and amen," as strong an AFFIRMATION of truth as can be expressed in the Greek language. It is, therefore, profoundly meaningful that the entire Bible closes with an "amen". "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (Rev 22:21), assuring everyone who reads these words that the whole Book is absolutely TRUE and TRUSTWORTHY. "Nevertheless, when the son of man cometh, shall he find FAITH on the earth" (Luke 18:8)? This passage refers to THE FAITH -- ha emen.

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