By Bryan McAlister
“Lord, teach us to pray…”
Is it any wonder that such a question would be asked of Jesus? Can you imagine what it must have been like to witness His prayer life? Jesus prayed at His baptism (Luke 3:21); Jesus prayed as often as He could (Luke 5:16); Jesus prayed as He called His Apostles (Luke 6:12); He prayed alone (Luke 9:18); He prayed with friends (Luke 9:28-29); He prayed for His friends (Luke 22:32); He prayed for His courage (Luke 22:41-44); He prayed at His crucifixion (Luke 23:34). It’s really is no surprise, all the time Jesus prayed, and at all the moments in His life when He chose to pray. Bear with me for a moment, hopefully you’ll see where we are taking this seemingly tangent of a thought, but, years ago a silly song asked the question, “Where do my socks go when I put them in the drier?” Out of our fear, I think the same bewilderment may sometimes capture our prayers. Where do my prayers go when I give them to God? Let’s see some principles concerning prayer.
Who is Prayer to? – Prayer, in short is to God, but we do not need to think of God in singular form. God, as we encounter Him throughout scripture is revealed to us in three distinct personalities or identities. The Hebrews had numerous words/names to describe God. One of them is Elohim, which we might think of as a family name. Genesis 1:26 said, “Let Us make man in Our image.” Notice the plural and notice the family nature. When we speak of God, we speak of deity. When we speak of deity we speak of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and through scripture all are revealed.
Who is Prayer for? – Prayer is a spiritual blessing to those who are in Jesus Christ (Eph 1:3). “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers, but His face is against those who do evil” (I Peter 3:12). Prayer as it pertains to the relationship between God and the saved is wholly unique from prayer used by those outside the body of Christ, outside a covenant relationship with God. I’m thinking of the passengers on board a ship, bound for the city of Tarshish, when a violent wind began to endanger the ship and crew. All on board were praying to pagan gods, except one passenger, Jonah. Jonah was not praying at all, and his God was the true God, the God of Israel. The crew of the ship, began to pray to the God of heaven, in hopes that He would hear them and have mercy (Jonah 1:14). Incidentally, Jonah was on his way to a Gentile nation, to deliver to them a message of repentance. In the New Testament there is the example of Cornelius, a righteous man, who prayed daily, gave generously of his means, but he was not saved. He was praying, when an angel appeared to him, instructing him to send for Peter in Joppa, so he could teach Cornelius the gospel (Acts 10:1ff).
These examples are simply to say, while prayer is reserved as a spiritual blessing, God is desiring of man to seek Him, and if man will seek God, he will find Him (Acts 17:27). Seeking Him, with an open and earnest heart will make the transformation of our life in every tangible and significant way.
- Bryan McAlister preaches for the Walnut Street Church of Christ in Dickson, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://www.wscoc.com/