A FOUNDATIONAL STUDY
By Thomas Jaymac
Studies conducted by behavioural psychologists show the average person thinks up to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those thoughts, 85% are negative, and 95% are the same repetitive thoughts from the previous day.
But stop for a minute and imagine. What would happen if the majority of those 60,000 thoughts each day were thoughts and prayers to God?
It would lead to the radical transformation of our heart and mind. It is the reason that Paul, in Romans 12:2, instructs us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV
When we fill our minds with the truth of God's Word and allow his thoughts to become our thoughts, we are in union and connection with the Holy Spirit. In doing this, we step into what Paul exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, to pray without ceasing!
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV
The words of David in Psalm 139:17-18 are a great example of this.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
Psalm 139:17-18 NIV
How vital it is that we delight in his presence, thank him for his blessings. How important to acknowledge that he is with us when we sit and rise, when we come and go, and when we perform our tasks for the day. By becoming mindful of these things, by becoming intentional in our thoughts posture to God, we are praying without ceasing.
Prayer is the most intimate and wonderful way we communicate with God. We can do this silently in our minds almost anywhere at any time. While driving the car, while working, studying, doing the dishes, preparing meals, exercising, walking, or lying in bed at night.
The key to effective prayer is humble persistence as we thank God, petition him, seek his guidance ask for wisdom or intercede for others.
In Mathew 6 Jesus provides an example of how we should pray. He makes an important point - prayer does not consist of vain repetitions. He highlights the most important point about prayer; in that God our heavenly father already knows what we need before we ask for it.
When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask.
Matthew 6:7-8 CEV
Jesus instructs us to pray in secret to our father who hears in secret. This highlights to us how personal prayer is. It is more important to pray this way than to pray publicly, so much so, Jesus states that those who do pray publicly without humility have only their vanity as their reward.
When you pray, don’t be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in the meeting places and on the street corners. They do this just to look good. I can assure you that they already have their reward.
When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.
Matthew 6:5-6 CEV
Prayer in secret is best.
Set yourself the task of looking through scripture and seeing where and how it is presented. The study of prayer will lead the student to a greater understanding of who God is and how we can access him.
Here are a selection of scriptures to get you started, highlighting prayer in its various forms.
2 Chron 7:14
1 Chron 16:11
1 Chron 4:10
1 Chron 6:18-20
Math 6:6 (how to pray)
1 Thess 5:16-18 (pray without ceasing)
Mark 11:24 (whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours)
1 Tim 2:1-3
1 John 5:14
1 Pet 5:7
John 14:13-14 (Pray in Jesus's Name)
Rom 8:26-27 (the Holy Spirit intercedes for us)
Luk 21:36 (Pray during end times)
Rom 8:34 (Christ intercedes for us)
1 Pet 4:7
There is evidence for public God-honoring prayer in the Bible. Ezra, Solomon, and Jesus prayed this way.
Ezra drew a crowd when he prayed publicly in anguish at Israel's lack of dedication to God, in Ezra 10:1, but didn't suffer rebuke from the people or from God for his public prayer. When we read of Solomon praying at the dedication of the temple, in 1 Kings 8:22–23, we can find no backlash or disfavour from God due to his prayer being public. And Jesus prayed publicly in front of thousands. He gave thanks before he miraculously fed them, he prayed with His disciples, and from the cross.
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.
John 17:1-26 KJV
Public prayer then isn't in and of itself without value, if combined with sincerity and humility.
If we are to pray in public we should be cognizant of our motives, and particularly beware of pride. Wanting to pray publicly in order to be thought of highly is not biblical. At the same time, avoiding praying in public for fear of embarrassment or out of shame is also not biblical. Both public prayer and private prayer are biblically supported. Both have a place in the life of a believer.
When the time comes to pray publicly the Holy Spirit will prompt us and provide the words. We can pray on behalf of those we are with at the time and lead a meeting or close a meeting with prayer. Above all, the most important thing when it comes to prayer, is that we follow 1 John 1:9. First, confess our sin, and then talk to God in utmost humility.
... if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.
1 John 1:9 CEV
As it says in 1 Pet 5:5-6 God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Public prayer should be God-honoring, selfless, and based on a true desire to speak to God and not to men. If we can pray publicly without violating these principles, we do well to pray publicly. However, if our conscience forbids it, we do well to refrain. Rest assured that the prayers your offer in secret will be heard by your Creator, God, your Heavenly Father.
What a great blessing we gain as Christians when we are fervent in prayer.
Praise God and may you be blessed by this study.