Theology of prayer Drawing Close to GodDr. Terrence Threadwell L P D H
Definition of Prayer Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate arapport with a deity, an object of worship, or a spiritualentity through deliberate communication. Prayer can bea form of religious practice, may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of a hymn, incantation, formal creed, or a spontaneous utterance in the praying person. There are different forms of prayer such as petitionary prayer, prayers of supplication, thanksgiving, and worship/praise.
The Hebrew word for prayer is tefilah. Meaning tojudge oneself. This surprising word origin providesinsight into the purpose of Jewish prayer. The mostimportant part of any Jewish prayer is the examinationof our thoughts and feelings it provides, as we lookinside ourselves, seeing our role in the universe and ourrelationship to God.The Greek word Proseúxomai– literally, to interact withthe Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for Hiswishes as He imparts faith ("divine persuasion").Accordingly, praying
Direct petitions to GodFrom Biblical times to today, the most common form ofprayer is to directly appeal to God to grant onesrequests. This in many ways is the simplest form ofprayer. Some have termed this the social approach toprayer. In this view, a person directly enters into Godsrest, and asks for their needs to be fulfilled. God listensto the prayer, and may so or not choose to answer in theway one asks of him. This is the primary approach toprayer found in the Hebrew Bible, the NewTestament, most of the Church writings, and in rabbinicliterature such as the Talmud.
Educational approachIn this view, prayer is not a conversation. Rather, it ismeant to inculcate certain attitudes in the one whoprays, but not to influence. Several Rabbis favor thisgenre of prayer.Among Christian theologians, E.M. Bounds stated theeducational purpose of prayer in every chapter of hisbook, The Necessity of Prayer. Prayer books such as theBook of Common Prayer are both a result of thisapproach and an exhortation to keep it.
Rationalist approachIn this view, the ultimate goal of prayer is to help train aperson to focus on divinity through philosophy andintellectual contemplation. This approach was taken bythe Jewish scholar and philosopher Maimonides and theother medieval rationalists; it became popular inJewish, Christian, and Islamic intellectual circles, butnever became the most popular understanding ofprayer among the laity in any of these faiths. In all threeof these faiths today, a significant minority of peoplestill hold to this approach.
Experiential approachIn this approach, the purpose of prayer is to enable theperson praying to gain a direct experience of therecipient of the prayer (or as close to direct as a specifictheology permits). This approach is very significant inChristianity and widespread in Judaism (although lesspopular theologically). In Eastern Orthodoxy, thisapproach is known as hesychasm. It is also widespreadin Sufi Islam, and in some forms of mysticism. Theperson prays with the heart, no words are spoken.
Transformative approachIn this approach, prayer enables an existentialtransformation in the person praying. The act of prayingelicits a new kind of understanding which wasntapparent before praying. The Danish philosopher SørenKierkegaard wrote that "the function of prayer is not toinfluence God, but rather to change the nature of theone who prays."
Relational ApproachSome look upon God as the CEO, others as a co-laborer, but when it comes to prayer I need to see himas a Father who loves me and desires fellowship. Prayerthen becomes a conversation
• Prayer is relational L P D H
Prayer is RelationalWe may not realize it but God wants to be your lover, and we inturn should be in love with Him. God wants us to be totallyconsumed with each other, giving him our total attention. Howmore compatible could we be, being made in the image andlikeness? So what happened in the garden? In Genesis 3:8-9 weread, “ And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in thegarden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hidthemselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees ofthe garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said tohim, "Where are you?" The Hebrew speaks of God thunderingthrough the garden like a mighty wind—doesn’t sound much like alover. It does if you’re the partner in the relationship that has beenjilted. “And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tellsme I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there noneother has ever known.” Adam exchanges this closeness for fruitand greater knowledge.
Prayer then is a way of life.
Prayer then is a way of life.Prayer is how God relates to us, how we relate to Godand others.
Prayer then is a way of life.Prayer is how God relates to us, how we relate to Godand others.Prayer begins with God.
Prayer then is a way of life.Prayer is how God relates to us, how we relate to Godand others.Prayer begins with God.Prayer is a response to the inner workings of the Spiritwithin us. God’s desire for us ignites the spark of ourdesire for God.
Prayer then is a way of life.Prayer is how God relates to us, how we relate to Godand others.Prayer begins with God.Prayer is a response to the inner workings of the Spiritwithin us. God’s desire for us ignites the spark of ourdesire for God.Prayer is the concrete expression of the fact that we areinvited into a relationship with God.
Prayer then is a way of life.Prayer is how God relates to us, how we relate to Godand others.Prayer begins with God.Prayer is a response to the inner workings of the Spiritwithin us. God’s desire for us ignites the spark of ourdesire for God.Prayer is the concrete expression of the fact that we areinvited into a relationship with God.Prayer is talking with God and listening to God aboutwhat we are doing together.
Prayer then is a way of life.Prayer is how God relates to us, how we relate to Godand others.Prayer begins with God.Prayer is a response to the inner workings of the Spiritwithin us. God’s desire for us ignites the spark of ourdesire for God.Prayer is the concrete expression of the fact that we areinvited into a relationship with God.Prayer is talking with God and listening to God aboutwhat we are doing together.Prayer is the knitting of the human heart together withthe heart of God.
Prayer then is a way of life.Prayer is how God relates to us, how we relate to Godand others.Prayer begins with God.Prayer is a response to the inner workings of the Spiritwithin us. God’s desire for us ignites the spark of ourdesire for God.Prayer is the concrete expression of the fact that we areinvited into a relationship with God.Prayer is talking with God and listening to God aboutwhat we are doing together.Prayer is the knitting of the human heart together withthe heart of God.Prayer doesn’t change God it changes us.
The apostle Paul said that the Spirit “helps us in ourweakness” and “intercedes with sighs too deep forwords” (Rom. 8:26) The Spirit prays in us and for us.Perhaps our real task in prayer is to attune ourselves tothe conversation already going on deep in our heartsand in our core of being. Thomas Merton … “the greatthing is prayer. Prayer itself. If you want a life of prayer,the way to get it is by praying… You start where you areand you deepen what you already have.”
Søren Kierkegaard stated, “A man prayed and at first hethought that prayer was talking. But he became moreand more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer islistening.”
• Abiding in his presence L P D H
4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bearfruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither canyou, unless you abide in Me. (Joh 15:4 NKJ) We abide through Prayer Sacraments
The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread.Having given thanks, he broke it and said, this is mybody, broken for you. Do this to remember me. Aftersupper, he did the same thing with the cup: This cup is myblood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink thiscup, remember me. What you must solemnly realize is thatevery time you eat this bread and every time you drink thiscup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of theMaster. You will be drawn back to this meal again and againuntil the Master returns. (1 Cor 11:23. MSG)11 "And they burn to the LORD every morning and everyevening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense; they also set theshowbread in order on the pure gold table, and thelampstand of gold with its lamps to burn every evening; forwe keep the command of the LORD our God, but you haveforsaken Him. (2Ch 13:11 NKJ)
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed andbroke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat;this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gavethanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all ofyou. "For this is My blood of the new covenant, whichis shed for many for the remission of sins. "But I say toyou, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now onuntil that day when I drink it new with you in MyFathers kingdom." (Mat 26:26-29 NKJ)“ And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gaveit to them, saying, "This is My body which is given foryou; do this in remembrance of Me." Likewise He alsotook the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the newcovenant in My blood, which is shed for you. (Luk 22:19-20 NKJ)
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things intoHis hands, and that He had come from God and wasgoing to God, rose from supper and laid aside Hisgarments, took a towel and girded Himself. Afterthat, He poured water into a basin and began to washthe disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel withwhich He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. AndPeter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?"Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing youdo not understand now, but you will know after this."Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!" Jesusanswered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no partwith Me." (Joh 13:3-8 NKJ)
• Teach us to pray L P D H
"In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father inheaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us thisday our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As weforgive our debtors. And do not lead us intotemptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours isthe kingdom and the power and the glory forever.Amen. (Mat 6:9-13 NKJ)
"In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven,Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your willbe done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day ourdaily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive ourdebtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliverus from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and thepower and the glory forever. Amen. (Mat 6:9-13 NKJ)
The Lord’s Prayer is preceded by a warning"And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as theheathen do. For they think that they will be heard fortheir many words. "Therefore do not be like them. Foryour Father knows the things you have need of beforeyou ask Him. (Mat 6:7-8 NKJ) Don’t be repetitive Don’t use unnecessary words
Pagans, Greeks, Romans and even the Jews usedlong, chaotic, wordy prayers. The Jews wouldn’t speakthe name of God thinking it showed reverence. G_d
Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwisepeople? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has Henot made you and established you? (Deu 32:6 NKJ)Doubtless You are our Father, Though Abraham wasignorant of us, And Israel does not acknowledge us.You, O LORD, are our Father; Our Redeemer fromEverlasting is Your name. (Isa 63:16 NKJ)
"But I said:`How can I put you among the children And giveyou a pleasant land, A beautiful heritage of the hosts ofnations? "And I said:`You shall call Me, "My Father," And notturn away from Me. (Jer 3:19 NKJ)Malachi asked the question, "A son honors his father, And aservant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is Myhonor?” (Mal 1:6 NKJ)Later in the first century B.C. The Book of Wisdom contains aMessianic prophecy where it says, “his boast that God is hisfather.” (Wis 2:16 KJA)“Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet youhave not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seenthe Father; so how can you say, `Show us the Father ? (Joh14:9 NKJ)
• Kingdom Come—praying that the will of God come down on earth as it is in heaven
• Kingdom Come—praying that the will of God come down on earth as it is in heaven• Give us the day—the term is only used twice in the NT, asking God to supply all you might need for the day.
• Kingdom Come—praying that the will of God come down on earth as it is in heaven• Give us the day—the term is only used twice in the NT, asking God to supply all you might need for the day.• Forgiveness—Foundational.
• Kingdom Come—praying that the will of God come down on earth as it is in heaven• Give us the day—the term is only used twice in the NT, asking God to supply all you might need for the day.• Forgiveness—Foundational.• Lead us not into peril more that we can bear, and keep us from the evil one.
• Ancient methods of prayer L P D H
Silence and solitudeThen Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wildernessto be tempted by the devil. And when He had fastedforty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.(Mat 4:1-2 NKJ)So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And hishead was brought on a platter and given to the girl, andshe brought it to her mother. Then his disciples cameand took away the body and buried it, and went andtold Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from thereby boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when themultitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from thecities. (Mat 14:10-13 NKJ)
Silence and solitudeNow after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John hisbrother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;and He was transfigured before them. His face shonelike the sun, and His clothes became as white as thelight. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared tothem, talking with Him. (Mat 17:1-3 NKJ) Then Jesus came with them to a place calledGethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while Igo and pray over there." (Mat 26:36 NKJ) Now it came to pass in those days that He went out tothe mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayerto God. And when it was day, He called His disciples toHimself; and from them He chose twelve whom He alsonamed apostles: (Luk 6:12-13 NKJ)
Silence and solitudeHowever, the report went around concerning Him allthe more; and great multitudes came together tohear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So HeHimself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.(Luk 5:15-16 NKJ)
Silence and solitudeThe reason Christians are to seek silence and solitudeabove all else is for the same reason Jesus did—to beable to hear from God.LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore intothe mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before theLORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after thewind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in theearthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but theLORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still smallvoice. (1Ki 19:11-12 NKJ)
Sacred Reading—Lectio DivinaPs 119 1-8 You’re blessed when you stay oncourse, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doingyour best to find him. That’s right—you don’t go off onyour own; you walk straight along the road he set.You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now youexpect us to live it. Oh, that my steps might besteady, keeping to the course you set; Then I’d neverhave any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel.I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learnthe pattern of your righteous ways. I’m going to do whatyou tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me.
Daily OfficeNow when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, hewent home. And in his upper room, with his windowsopen toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his kneesthree times that day, and prayed and gave thanks beforehis God, as was his custom since early days. (Dan 6:10NKJ)Canonical hours are ancient divisions of time, developedby the Christian Church, serving as increments betweenthe prescribed prayers of the daily round. A Book ofHours contains such a set of prayers.A book of hours is an illuminated, Christian devotionalbook that was popular among the Christians ofNorthern Europe during the Middle Ages.
• Prayer warfare L P D H
Daily OfficeNot only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of theSpirit, even we ourselves groan withinourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, theredemption of our body. For we were saved in thishope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why doesone still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for whatwe do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For wedo not know what we should pray for as we ought, butthe Spirit Himself makes intercession for us withgroanings which cannot be uttered. Now He whosearches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spiritis, because He makes intercession for the saintsaccording to the will of God. (Rom 8:23-27 NKJ)
Prayer is heavenlyFor we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, butagainst principalities, against powers, against the rulersof the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts ofwickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take upthe whole armor of God, that you may be able towithstand in the evil day, and having done all, tostand……….18 praying always with all prayer andsupplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end withall perseverance and supplication for all the saints--andfor me, that utterance may be given to me, that I mayopen my mouth boldly to make known the mystery ofthe gospel, (Eph 6:12-19 NKJ)
Prayer is persistentSo Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up tothe top of Carmel; then he bowed down on theground, and put his face between his knees, and said tohis servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So hewent up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." Andseven times he said, "Go again." Then it came to passthe seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, assmall as a mans hand, rising out of the sea!" So hesaid, "Go up, say to Ahab, `Prepare your chariot, and godown before the rain stops you." (1Ki 18:42-44 NKJ)Prayer is effectiveConfess your trespasses to one another, and pray forone another, that you may be healed. Theeffective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.(Jam 5:16 NKJ)