The Necessity of Prayer

As we study the principles and procedure of prayer, of its activities and enterprises, first place must, of necessity, be given to faith. It is the initial quality in the heart of any man who essays to talk to the Unseen. First, you must believe in the unseen

Heb. 11:6 But without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.


One must, out of sheer helplessness, stretch forth hands of faith. One must believe where he cannot prove. In the ultimate issue, prayer is simply faith, claiming its natural yet marvellous prerogatives – faith taking possession of its illimitable inheritance. When faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live. Faith does the impossible because it brings God to undertake for us, and nothing is impossible with God. This is why the Lord Jesus said; “Have faith in God” – Mark 11:22


As breathing is a physical reality to us so prayer should be a reality for us.  God’s command, “Pray without ceasing” is to be taken almost as literally as animate nature takes the law of the reflex nervous system, which controls our breathing.


Prayer projects faith on God, and God on the world. Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God.



Bible Texts: Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24; Luke 22:42

Central Truth: God is concerned about everything that touches us, and He has made a provision to meet our needs through prayer.

In the King James Version, Ephesians 6:18 reads, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” Moffatt’s translation reads, “Praying…. with all manner of prayer.” Yet another translation says, “Praying with all kinds of prayer….”


In today’s lesson, we will look at some of the different kinds of prayer in the New Testament. Just as numerous games are classified as “sports,” different kinds of prayer often are lumped together under the general category of “prayer.” We need to realize that just as different rules govern each game, different principles, rules, or spiritual laws also govern different kinds of prayer. In sports, the rules that apply to baseball do not apply to football. A visitor from Europe was taken by his host to see an American baseball game in New York City. He didn’t know much about the game, because it is not played in his country, and he had to ask a number of questions because he didn’t understand the terminology. He was accustomed to sports that were quite different and he knew the same rules didn’t apply in all cases.


Likewise, spiritually, the principles that apply to one kind of prayer may not apply to another, and you can become terribly confused if you try to apply the wrong rule to a certain kind of prayer. The first kind of prayer we will study in this lesson is the prayer of petition.


The Prayer of Petition

MATTHEW 21:22 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. MARK 11:24 24 Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

By far the most frequent prayer of Christians is the prayer of petition. We always are petitioning or asking God to do something for us. This is scriptural, of course, because He told us in Matthew 21:22, “… ask in prayer, believing.”


The prayer of a petition must be a prayer of faith. It primarily concerns an individual’s desires, needs, and problems. It is you praying for yourself, not someone else praying for you or agreeing with you in prayer. When you pray the prayer of petition, believe that you receive. If you will do that, you will have what you ask for. God is concerned about our needs and He wants to meet them for us. Notice that in the Old Testament, God promised His people more than spiritual blessings; He promised them that they would prosper financially and materially. He told them He would take sickness away from their midst, and He would give them long life: “… the number of thy days I will fulfil” (Exod. 23:26). God also told them that if they would keep His commandments, they would eat the good of the land (Isa. 1:19).


God is just as interested in His people today as He was then. He is concerned about everything that touches our lives. He promised us in Third John 2, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” Jesus said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:11). We must realize that it is God’s will that our needs — spiritual, physical, and material — be met.


Some people think they should conclude every prayer with the words “If it be thy will.” They claim this is the way Jesus prayed. However, Jesus prayed this way on only one occasion, when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

By contrast, when He stood at Lazarus’ tomb, He didn’t say, “If it be thy will.” Instead, He said, “I thank You because You hear me always” (John 11:41-43). Then He commanded Lazarus to come forth. The prayer to raise Lazarus was a prayer to change something. Anytime we pray to change something, we do not need to put an “if” in our prayer. If we do, we are using the wrong rule, and the prayer won’t work. Instead, we need to claim God’s promise for our petition and believe that we receive it.


Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane — the prayer in which He put an “if” — was a prayer of consecration.


The Prayer of Consecration

LUKE 22:42 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. In the Garden of Gethsemane Christ prayed the prayer of submission, consecration, and dedication: “… if thou be willing… nevertheless not my will…” He wanted to do what the Father wanted Him to do. It was not a prayer of petition. It was not a prayer to get something or to change something. It was a prayer of consecration. When we consecrate our lives for God’s use, to go anywhere and do anything He wants us to do, we pray this kind of prayer. In a prayer of consecration and dedication, we pray, “If it be thy will.”


For reciving something from God, however, we do not pray, “If it be thy will,” because we already have God’s Word concerning it. We know it is His will that our needs be met.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:18).


United Prayer

Bible Text: Acts 4:23-31 Central Truth: There is power in united prayer.

In the third chapter of Acts we read that as Peter and John entered the Temple through the Gate Beautiful, they saw a man begging alms. Peter told the man to look at them. Expecting to receive a coin, he looked, and Peter told him, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk ” (Acts 3:6). Peter took the man by the hand, lifted him up, and the man started walking. He entered the Temple praising God. This raised a stir among the people, and Peter and John were taken before the priests and elders. They were cast into prison, and the next day were taken before the rulers. Unable to deny that a true miracle had taken place, the priests were forced to let them go. However, they commanded them not to preach or teach in the Name of Jesus anymore. Then we read:

ACTS 4:23-30

23 And being let go, they went to their own company and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. 24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. 29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.


From Prison to Prayer Group

Notice the first thing Peter and John did when they were released from the prison: “And being let go, they went to their own company….” A good place to be when in trouble is with your “own company” — people of like faith! It is good to be around people who know how to pray. I often have thought that if this group had been like some Christians today, the first thing they would have done would have been to organize a committee to go talk to those leaders and make a deal whereby everyone could get along. After all, these leaders were religious men, too. They believed in God and prayer. The only difference was that they didn’t accept Jesus as being the Messiah, the Son of God. However, the Bible does not say they appointed a committee for compromise. It says, “… they lifted up their voice to God with one accord.” They knew the value of united prayer. I was raised in a Southern Baptist church, and in my youth, I never heard people praying aloud in united prayer. In our church someone usually led in prayer. We never lifted our voices as a group in prayer. When I started attending some Full Gospel services, their praying all at once disturbed me. I would go down to the altar to pray with them, but I prayed quietly. It bothered me because they prayed aloud. Their services stimulated my faith, but when I prayed at the altar, I would get at the far end, away from them, so I wouldn’t be close to their noise. One time I ventured to say something about it. I told them that God wasn’t hard of hearing. They responded, “He isn’t nervous, either.” I decided to search my Bible for the scriptural answer to this question. I wanted to see how the Early Church had prayed. (We claim to be preaching the same New Birth they preached, so we might as well be following them in prayer.)


As I read through the Book of Acts, I underlined in red pencil every verse where it said the people prayed in a group. I couldn’t find one place where they called on one person to lead in prayer! Nor did they have any kind of “sentence prayers.” The Bible said they lifted their voices. They all prayed at once, and they all prayed out loud. After reading this, the next time I went to a Full Gospel service I got right in the middle of where they were praying. My mind had been renewed with the Word, and I got a blessing I never had received when praying alone quietly. I saw for the first time the blessing of united prayer.


Results of United Prayer

What was the result of the united prayer of the believers in this fourth chapter of Acts? Was their united prayer answered? Let’s look at verse 31: ACTS 4:31 31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. In verse 29 we read that they had prayed, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” They had not asked the Lord to remove the persecution or to strike

down their enemies. They had not asked the Lord to make their way easy. Instead, they had prayed that in the midst of persecution they might preach the Word with boldness. And the Lord had answered their prayer. Verse 31 says that “… the place was shaken where they were assembled together….” Do you know of any group of people who are praying and shaking anything today? If Christians today would get together and pray “with one accord,” they would shake the world for Jesus. There is power in united prayer!


Notice, too, that their prayer was for something specific. They were definite in their praying. They were not praying some generalized prayer; they were praying about the need that faced them. And they all prayed at once. As they lifted their voices to God in fervent prayer, “the place was shaken.”


In our last lesson, we studied a similar incident. Paul and Silas had been thrown in jail in Philippi for preaching the Gospel. Instead of complaining to the Lord about what had happened to them, they lifted their voices to the Lord in songs of praise. “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25). They, too, were praying aloud, for “the prisoners heard them.” They weren’t off in some corner mumbling quiet, forlorn pleas to God. The prisoners heard them as they sang praises unto God.


Some people say they want to pray quietly because the Lord knows they have a song in their heart. But if it is there, it is going to come out, “… for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). Did God answer the united prayer of Paul and Silas? Acts 16:26 says, “And suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened and every one’s bands were loosed.” Again the place was shaken as a result of united prayer! When Paul and Silas joined forces in prayer and praise to God, the very foundations of the prison were shaken! The stocks came off their feet, and they were free. The jailer, awakened by the earthquake, saw the prison doors standing open and assumed the prisoners had fled. He knew he would be held responsible for their escape, and he became so frightened that he was going to kill himself. Just then Paul cried out, “… Do thyself no harm: for we are all here ” (v. 28). The jailer knew he had witnessed the supernatural that night. He knew Paul and Silas were no ordinary men, and he “… came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (vv. 29-31).


As a result of Paul and Silas’ united prayer that night, the jailer and his entire family accepted: Christ as Savior and all were baptized. “These all continued with one accord There is supernatural power in prayer and supplication …” (Acts united prayer! 1:14).


The Prayer of Commitment

Bible Texts: Matthew 6:25-27; Philippians 4:6

When the winds of adversity blow, we can do exactly as the Word of God says. We do not have to fret or worry; we can cast our burdens on the Lord.

Do you sometimes pray about a problem with seemingly no results? Unanswered prayers usually are due to our not praying in line with the Word of God. Often there are times when we need to pray the prayer of commitment. Peter talked about this kind of prayer when he said, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). I believe The Amplified Bible translation of this verse is most illuminating and enlightening. It says, “Casting the whole of your care — all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all — on Him; for He cares for you affectionately, and cares about you watchfully.” How wonderful that we can cast our cares upon the Lord in prayer!


Pray According to Laws Governing Prayer

If people would just pray this prayer of commitment, it would eliminate some of the things they are praying about! Some people’s prayers are not answered because they are not doing

what God said to do about cares, anxieties, worries, and concerns. Other Christians seem satisfied to think that God knows and understands all about their problems — but they still cling to these cares. Therefore, they don’t get their prayers answered. It is not enough to know that God understands and is concerned. We must do what He said to do if we want to be delivered from our problems. Cast all your cares, all your anxieties, all your worries upon Him, for He cares for you.


This is the prayer of commitment — the prayer of casting or rolling our cares and burdens upon Him. A Scripture in the Psalms may help us see more clearly what Peter is talking about here: “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Ps. 37:5). A reference in the King James Version says, “Roll thy way upon the Lord.” Commit, cast, roll your burden on the Lord. He is not going to take it away from you. Some request, “Pray that the Lord will lighten this load.” He’s not going to do that. He doesn’t want to just lighten your load; He wants to carry it all. But there is a vital part that we must play in this. It is the prayer of commitment. God does not want His children to worry, to be full of anxiety, or to be burdened down with the cares of life. But there is something you must do. In imperative sentences, such as those in First Peter 5:7 and Psalm 37:5, the subject of the sentence is understood to be “you.” The Lord said, “You cast all your care upon him.” “You commit your way unto the Lord.” We must do our part — we must obey the Lord before He can come to our aid. We must turn loose of our problem before He can take over. This is a once-and-for-all proposition; it isn’t something you do every day. When we really cast our cares upon Him, we don’t have them anymore. We are rid of them. They are no longer in our hands, but in His. There is so much that the Lord would have done for us, but we wouldn’t let Him. We may have been honest and sincere in our praying, but we saw no answers to our prayers because we did not come according to His rules, His laws, that govern the operation of prayer. We did not do what He told us to do, and we wondered why He didn’t work certain things out for us. Sometimes we have brought our burden to the altar of prayer. We have prayed and prayed and prayed about it. Then when we got up to leave, we picked up our burden off the altar and took it home with us! Then there are those who do not

really want to get rid of their problems. Oh, they claim — sometimes rather loudly — that they do. But they don’t — not really — because if they did, they wouldn’t have anything to get people’s sympathy with. They wouldn’t have anything to complain about. They would almost have to close down conversation!


The Futility of Worry

MATTHEW 6:25-27 25Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

Jesus was simply saying in this passage, “Which of you by worrying and being over-anxious is going to change anything?” We all know that worry is like a rocking chair: It keeps you busy, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Luke’s Gospel records the same teaching and says, “And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life …” (Luke 12:22). Another translation of this verse reads, “Be not anxious about tomorrow.” Of course, we have to plan and prepare for tomorrow. We have to make certain provisions for the future. But what the Lord was teaching us here is that He doesn’t want us to be filled with anxiety and worry about tomorrow. We can say with the Gospel songwriter, “I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know Who holds my hand.” That’s all that is important.


Worry Nullifies Prayer

PHILIPPIANS 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. The Amplified translation of this verse will help us. It says, “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything.” Again, “you” is the understood subject of the sentence. When the Lord said, “Be careful (anxious) for nothing,” He was saying, “[You] be careful for nothing….” In other words, “Don’t you fret or have any anxiety about anything.” As long as you fret and have anxiety concerning the thing you are praying about, you are nullifying the effects of your praying. You haven’t cast it on the Lord; you still have it. If you have it, He doesn’t have it. If He has it, you don’t have it. As long as you are still worrying about your problem, lying awake at night, tossing from one side of the bed to the other, trying to figure it out, He doesn’t have it. As long as your stomach churns every time you think about it, as long as you can’t eat for worrying about it, He doesn’t have it. You do. And really, all of your praying about it will not work, because you have not done as He has commanded.

He has promised to bring it to pass, but only after you have committed your “way unto the Lord.” When we cast our cares on the Lord, we no longer have them. To illustrate, if I took the last five dollars out of my billfold and gave it to you, I wouldn’t have it any longer; you would. Then if someone came along and asked to borrow a dollar, promising to pay it back the next day, I would have to say, “I don’t have a dollar.”


When the winds of adversity blow, we can do exactly as the Word of God says. We do not have to fret or worry; we can cast our burdens on the Lord. If you haven’t done it yet, there is no better time than now to turn loose of your problems and sleep peacefully tonight. If the devil tries to bring a picture of them before you, put them out of your mind immediately and say, “No, I don’t have that, devil. I don’t have a care, I have turned them over to the Lord and He has them.” He’ll work on it while you are sleeping. He never slumbers or sleeps (Ps. 121:4). You need sleep, but He doesn’t. “… he giveth his beloved sleep” (Ps. 127:2). You are His beloved because you are accepted in the Beloved, the Lord   Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:6).


Therefore, you can sleep peacefully. If we really believe the Bible and practice God’s Word, we never should worry. If we really believe what Jesus said — “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14) — we wouldn’t worry even if our house burned down while we were away. We wouldn’t worry or fret about it. We would say, “Praise God, we’ll get a better one.” This is the attitude God wants us to have. Purpose in your heart today to practice God’s Word; to practice faith.

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