Prayer as Demonstrated in the Bible

The importance of prayer was instilled in me from little on. As a young girl my Opah taught me much about Jesus. We lived by my grandparents. Each Sunday evening my brother and I would have “church” with them. My Opah would be the “pastor”, Omah would be the congregation, and my brother and I were the choir. We would always sing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” A beautiful hymn outlining the truths about the importance of prayer.

Now when I think of my prayer life, my joys and struggles in praying, my mind returns to these precious moments. Opah taught me so much. He demonstrated so much about Jesus and life in Him. As an adult I now look to the Lord and His Word for help in prayer, but often wish that Opah was still here to guide me when I am struggling.

The Bible is filled with prayers demonstrating ways we can pray. It gives many examples of how others prayed. I would like to share a few examples of the different kinds of prayer, there is so much to learn in God’s Word.

Many of our prayers fall under the umbrella of petitions, sometimes this type of prayer is referred to as supplication, these terms refer to the times we cry out to the Lord with our needs. We may petition the Lord about anything; our finances, our health, for our protections when we travel, or about difficulties in our workplace, the opportunities are endless.

David shares his prayers throughout the Psalms. Psalm 3 is an example of him petitioning the Lord for deliverance. David is in the middle of a very stressful situation He is feeling as if everyone is against him. There are times in our lives when we feel exactly the same way, whether it is in the workplace or in our homes, or maybe just in dealing with inner conflict about an issue. David knew the Lord was on his side and he needed the Lord to help him through and out. He felt pummeled by his enemies. We may have human enemies but many of our emotions can seem like enemies. Guilt, greed, anger, and jealousy can entangle our hearts and destroy our peace and joy. We then may need to call out to the Lord for deliverance in these situations as well, petitioning the Lord for His help.

When we are not praying for ourselves, we often are praying on behalf of others. We see the needs of family and friends. We see problems in our world; problems of persecution, wars, human trafficking, abuse, and other injustices. When we look in the Bible, one of the most beautiful examples of intercession is found in John 17 when Jesus cries out to His Father on our behalf. He prayer for his disciples and ultimately, for us. It is such a beautiful prayer of love. Intercession is truly a prayer of love for another, there is nothing more important that we can do than cry out to God on another’s behalf. Paul also give us many examples of intercession, for example He speaks of his prayer for the people in the church of Ephesus in Ephesians 1:15-23. He prays for their spiritual growth. He asks that the eyes of their hearts be enlightened so that they will know the hope of God’s calling. You can’t go wrong interceding for someone’s spiritual growth, what could be more important to the Lord than that.

Another kind of prayer we see demonstrated in the Bible is the prayer of thanksgiving. In Psalm 138 we read the words of David giving thanks for the Lord’s favor. He thanks God for His loving-kindness, His truth, and His answers to prayer. He gives thanks for the confidence and strength that the Lord gave him in life, for fulfilled promises, for deliverance, and so much more. David has seen the hand of the Lord at work in his life and he is grateful for so much. We too have many reasons to give thanks. I think that we often neglect sharing our gratitude with the Lord, and in doing so we often miss out on the joy that can fill our hearts because of such a prayer.

Similar to this are the prayers of worship and praise. Hannah prays such a prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Hannah  rejoices in the Lord because of Who He is and what He has done. She is filled with worship and praise because after a time of infertility the Lord has answered her prayers and blessed her with a child.

When we see the reality of God’s goodness in our lives or recognize the gift of answered prayer we too may go to the Lord as Hannah did with words of worship and praise.

The last type of prayer that I want to mention is that of confession. David gives us a beautiful example of a prayer of confession in Psalm 51. He wrote this after he sinned with Bathsheba. You can read about his sin in 1 Samuel 11. David realizes his sin of committing adultery after the prophet Nathan confronts him. David then pours out his heart to the Lord in Psalm 51. He prays for God to have mercy and compassion on him. He asks that the Lord would blot out his sins (transgressions). He admits that he has sinned against the Lord by doing evil in His sight. He asks for cleansing and restoration. David desires to praise the Lord again. He wants his heart to be right before the Lord and his realtionship with Him restored.

When we personally find ourselves realizing that we have grieved the Lord with our sin, we too need to bring that sin before the Lord in confession. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Confession restores our relationship, broken by sin, with the Lord.

There are many reason to come before the Lord, to cry out to Him, these are only a few examples. These prayers give us words to express our feelings and needs. They can encourage us in praying when we are at a loss for what to say or when we feel stuck. Each of these prayers are expressed by real people going through real struggle, recognizing heartfelt needs, or responding to God’s intervention. We can relate to their heart cries, and our heart have cries of their own that we can bring before the Lord.

When prayer is a struggle we can find hope and help in God’s Word. The Lord often uses His Word to prick my heart to help me realize a personal prayer-need of my own or to realize the need of another. The Lord wants to hear from us. He wants to meet us in our neediness, in our desperation, as well as in our rejoicing and praise. Jesus is our loving Friend. The hymn I use to sing in my grand parents living room tells it all.

“What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer.

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear.

All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer.”

(written by Joseph M. Scriven)

What a privilege it is to take our needs to God in prayer. I am so grateful for these beautiful scriptural examples that serve as a guide when I struggle in my prayer life. I hope that you have found encouragement for your prayer needs also. Truly what a privilege we have to take our concerns to the Creator God of this Universe.

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All Praise to God- Psalm 34

I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are discouraged take heart.”

 Psalm 34:1-2 NLT

This psalm is written by David during one of the many difficult times in his life. Praising God is good for the discouraged heart. David had much to be discouraged about in his life, especially with Saul chasing after him, threatening his life. David was often in danger, and yet he chose to praise the Lord.

Psalm 34 gives us many reasons to praise God, no matter what your circumstances are in life.

One of the first thing David mentions in this psalm that he is thankful for answered prayer. There is so much to pray about in life, and the beautiful thing is, the Lord is interested in every aspect of our lives. He loves us so much, and nothing can separate us from that love (see Romans 8:31-39).

I know I have read those verses in Romans so many times but recently I realized that I don’t really know His love in a way that keeps me trusting all of the time. He is teaching me about His love in amazing ways. His love is the love of a perfect parent, a love that we rarely experience in relationships with humans on this earth. His love is unconditional, it doesn’t get taken away when you blow it bad. He doesn’t give guilt trips, or tell you how rotten you are.

Our sin just makes the Lord sad, because He knows how much it hurts us and it hurts Him. He doesn’t want us to follow a bunch of rules to be good just for the sake of being good. Sometimes we act as if we think we can make Him love us more by being good, but that is not possible. He wants to protect us by leading us in paths of righteousness.

David knew God’s love, he trusted that love, and he prayed to the Lord, looking for Him to answer his prayers. He expected the Lord to answer. He expected God to hear him and respond to his concerns. And, David learned that God was faithful.

Praise God for answered prayer, whether it is for a close parking space, or for a healed body, praise God!

David learned that in his fears and in his suffering he could cry out to the Lord and he would faithfully answer him.

David praised God for guarding him and being his Rescuer. God rescues those who fear Him (vs. 7). He rescues those who call to Him for help (vs.17). He rescues those who are crushed in spirit (vs. 18). He rescues those facing trouble (vs.19).

Can you see God’s awesome love for His children in this psalm?

Have you experienced the Lord answering your prayers?

Do you have any fears? Take them to the Lord in prayer and watch Him work.

Do you need any help in any areas of your life? Pray, He is our Rescuer.

Are you brokenhearted or crushed in spirit? Draw near to God, He is close to you.

If there is any trouble in your life, pray and look for His answer. And if you have prayed and He has given answer, praise Him for His faithfulness. Or maybe His answer hasn’t come yet or at least not in the way you desire. Trust the magnitude of love the Lord has for you. He will satisfy the desires of your heart. Praise Him!

David also praises God for His goodness (vs.5). David recognizes that God is the one who meets the needs of His people. He tells us in vs. 9 that those who honor Him will have all they need, and in vs. 10 those who trust in Him will never lack any good thing. 

How is God demonstrating His goodness to you? Was it the beautiful sunrise this morning? Or was it that phone call from a friend just when you were at your breaking point? Was it that word from Him as you read your Bible this morning that you knew was just for you? Praise God for his goodness.

Has God met any of your needs today? Praise Him! James tells us that all good gifts come from our Father in heaven (see James 1:17)!

David continues in this psalm by praising God for His protection (vs.20). God takes care of us, He protects us from harm. He delivers us out of danger. He watches over us. He never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121:4).

Finally, David praises God for redemption (vs.22). God redeems us. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sinfulness. He raised Jesus from the dead and Jesus reigns eternal as our Savior, Lord and King! Praise God!

Give thanks to the Lord for all He has done, is doing, and will do. He is faithful to do what He says He will do. Praise Him for His love for you!

Thank the Lord for He is Good! – Psalm 118

Psalm 118 gives us three main subject areas that we can give thanks and praise to the Lord for.

  1. We can thank Him for His faithful love to us.
  2. We can thank Him for His help in our lives.
  3. We can thank Him for His Son, Jesus.                

Give thanks to God for His faithful love.

The psalmist begins this psalm by calling on various people and people groups to give thanks for God’s faithful love. Each of us has known God to touch our lives with His faithful, unfailing love in different ways.

How has the Lord demonstrated His faithful love to you? 

I recognize His love to me in His patience with me throughout life. I am only beginning to recognize certain areas of failure in my life because of my need to control. I have been so blinded to that. It is in realizing this I can see how faltering my trust in the Lord is. Yet, He has patiently stayed by my side, revealing truths to me little by little, and leading me in understanding the sin exposed so that I may repent. His faithful love for me doesn’t fail.

I recognize His unfailing love for me in His protection over me each day. He has protected me during my many trips, through recent years, to my parents as I helped my mom take care of my dad who suffered with Alzheimer’s. And since Dad went home to be with the Lord, those trips continue as I help my mom. The Lord has protected me on my trips by keeping me from hitting deer, keeping me from being involved in accidents, and by keeping me safe in poor weather-related driving conditions.

I recognize His faithful love for me in His provision. The Lord has blessed me with so much in the way of material goods, but also with a sweet husband, very special friendships, dear family members, and a warm, loving church family.

I recognize His faithful love to me in the many prayers He has answered for me. Keeping a prayer journal is a wonderful way to record the Lord’s faithful love in answering prayer. It is so faith-building to see how He works in our lives!

Give thanks to the Lord for His help.

The Lord has helped me in learning more of Who He is. He has led me in understanding His Word. He has helped me to know Him continually more personally and intimately. He has helped me in dealing with difficult relationships and in growing in learning how to love as He loves. He has helped me by placing key people in my life to walk with me and encourage me at various times in life. All of these ways He has demonstrated help plus in so many other ways that I have not listed!

How has the Lord helped you in your life?

Feed on His faithfulness, look for His loving presence, and rejoice in His work on your behalf because it demonstrates His personal knowledge of you and your life. It is so amazing when you take time to think about it.

Give thanks to the Lord for Jesus.

Our hearts should be filled with unending gratitude for Jesus, our Savior. He died a cruel death on the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and God raised Him from the dead, all for the purpose of removing our sin. God’s wondrous plan of salvation freely is given to all who believe. How can we ever stop saying thank you?

The psalmist tells us in verse 22 (NLT), “I thank you for answering my prayer and saving me.”

The Lord our God deserves thanks and praise for so much, so much that we so easily take for granted. Take some time to read Psalm 118 and join the Psalmist in his praise and thanksgiving to Him.

The Path to a Thankful Heart: Psalm 92

Psalm 92 begins by telling us that it is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Him.

Now that it is November and Thanksgiving is really only a few weeks away it seems appropriate to fill these hearts of ours with praise and thanksgiving.

The psalmist says that giving thanks and praising God benefits us. I have never thought of that, but reading this made me want to explore why. One of the first things that came to mind was how when I praise God or give thanks, it comes out of a heart filled with exuberance for who He is or what He has done. I feel this joy in the love He has shown me by acting on my behalf, or just from the recognition of His presence in my life. The book of Proverbs tells us that “A joyful heart is good medicine. But a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 NASB).

Medically, it is a fact that joy or delight in our hearts produces nitric acid in our bodies which provides a good flow of blood. Research also show that joyful people are less likely to have health problems like heart attacks, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Praising God is a way to attract God’s presence. One very real example of this is when the Lord answered King Solomon’s sacrifices and praises as he dedicated the temple in 2 Chronicles 7 by sending down fire.

Another way praise and thanksgiving benefit us is by leading us to recognize God’s great power and sovereignty. Consequently this helps us to grow in humility before our Holy God.

The psalmist suggests two things we can do which can help our hearts be filled with gratitude.

1. Proclaim or declare the Lord’s unfailing love in the morning.

What is the first thing that you think of in the morning when you wake up? Usually with me it is the running list of things I have to do. How different it would be to consider the Lord’s love for me! He has demonstrated His love to me in so many ways. How beautiful it would be to voice those to Him with praise and thanksgiving.

2. Proclaim the Lord’s faithfulness in the evening.

What is your dinner conversation like? How about at dinner or before bed gather the family together to share how they have seen God’s faithfulness that day? If you live alone, call a friend and have that discussion. Psalm 37 in the Amplified version talks about feeding on the Lord’s faithfulness. Graze on how the Lord has shown you His faithfulness, fill up on it, and learn of the magnitude of His love for you by doing so.

One of my favorite lines in Psalm 92 is verse 4 in the NLT. Here the Psalmist says that the Lord “thrills” him because of what He has done. What kind of enthusiasm do you feel for the Lord’s work in your life? Do you sing for joy because of it? Do you readily recognize the Lord’s goodness in your life? It is so easy to be overwhelmed by the mundane that monopolizes us and miss the miracles of God.

The psalmist continues by marveling at the depth of God’s thoughts.  Romans 11:30 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable are His ways.

His wisdom and knowledge are praiseworthyWhere would we be apart from all that He does for us?

There are many people who are blinded to the reality of God’s greatness. The ignorant and foolish still don’t get it. And today, we still see the wicked flourishing, just as the psalmist saw in his day. But the truth remains, their end is eternal destruction. The wicked will perish, but our God is eternal.

The Lord is good to us, He gives His followers strength and refreshes us by His great power. He causes the righteous to flourish, protecting them, and prospering them. He lengthens the days of the righteous and strengthens them in their old age. What a blessing the elderly Christian man or woman is as they share about God’s goodness throughout their lives!

Psalm 92:14 says “Even in old age they will produce fruit and remain vital and green.”  Psalm 1:3 makes this clearer “He is like a tree planted by a streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.” This verse in psalm 1 speaks of a righteous person, even in old age they are stiil “green.” And in their flourishing they declare the Lord is just. His greatness continues to all generations. The Lord is our rock, He is our firm foundation for all of life. He is good, and there is nothing but goodness in Him.

Throughout all of life we can bring glory to His name by our thanksgiving and praise. How will you practice this today? It is good to give thanks to the Lord and sing praises to Him!