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Does the Bible Teach Us How to Pray?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
April 12, 2024 5:23 pm

Does the Bible Teach Us How to Pray?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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April 12, 2024 5:23 pm

Episode 1465 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

CoreChristianity.com

  1. Is prayer just wishful thinking if it doesn't change my circumstances?   2. Is a prayer journal an acceptable form of prayer or must I pray out loud?   3. Should I be concerned about my pastor practicing "Lectio Divina"?   4. Should we pray to each person of the Trinity individually?     Today’s Offer: Praying with Jesus   Want to partner with us in our work here at Core Christianity? Consider becoming a member of the Inner Core.   View our latest spec

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Does the Bible tell us how to pray? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, it's Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. Here's our phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. If you get our voicemail, just let us know where you're calling from and you can leave your question there. Of course, you can always email us anytime at questionsatcorechristianity.com.

First up today, here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Charles. Well, there's a whole bunch of people on the same block doing the same thing. And the truth is, a storm is going to hit where it's going to hit, how it's going to hit, when it's going to hit. So how do you explain that? Prayer doesn't change the outcome of what we want in life most of the time. Your circumstances don't always change, although we wish that they would.

And it would be really good in a lot of times if they would, but they don't. So how do you explain it? Thank you very much.

Hey, Charles, thank you for that question. It made me think of, I used to be really into football, the NFL. I was a Chargers fan. Now, the Chargers left San Diego, so I'm not really into them anymore. But I remember years ago as a newer believer, still really being into the Chargers. And so whenever they would play on Sunday, I would pray for them. And I would pray that they would win the game and that they would do well and, of course, make it to the Super Bowl.

Now, they never did. And so I don't know if that says something about my prayers. But I remember also thinking, like, well, there's got to be somebody on the other side who's also praying.

For the Raiders, yeah. Well, Raiders fans don't pray, so that's definitely not the case. But I remember it was just like this tug of war between the prayers of these two groups.

And so, you know, I sympathize with your question, but what I would want to say is this. God does hear prayer and even prayers, big prayers, right? God stopped this storm. God hears those prayers.

And I would not say that your prayers don't matter as far as that's concerned. In fact, it's interesting, because there is an example in the Scriptures of somebody praying and changing the weather. You think of Elijah, right? And this is the example that's given in James chapter 5. This is verse 16. He's drawing, you know, this line of analogy between us and Elijah.

He's saying, okay, there's a similarity here. He's a man just like us. Elijah was a man with a nature just like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain for three years and six months, and it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. Look, I think we need to be encouraged to pray and to pray believing. Now, you're right, Charles, that doesn't always mean that God answers our prayers the way that we want him to answer our prayers. But to say that he doesn't hear prayer, or to say that, you know, it just doesn't matter, things are going to happen the way that they happen, it's sort of all been already pre-set, pre-destined, we might say, well, no, that's not the way in which Scripture talks about these things. Certainly, right, God is sovereign, and all things happen according to the counsel of his will, like Paul told the Ephesians, but the way in which God accomplishes his sovereign purposes in the world today is through the prayers of his people. Now, there's a mystery there that's above my pay grade, but it's true nevertheless, and so we should be encouraged to pray realizing that God does work in and through our prayers. And we can be confident when we pray, especially when we pray according to the will of God, knowing that he hears us and that he grants those requests that are in line with his will. Thank you for your question, Charles, and boy, pray, pray to the Lord, and pray with faith. You said something really important there, and that is to pray for the will of God, or in line with God's will. I think sometimes when we're making prayers of petition for ourselves or our family, our work situation, whatever it is, it's really more of a self-focused prayer rather than, God, your will be done. You know, it's interesting that we just brought up James 5, and then if you go back one chapter, Bill, James 4, verse 3, listen to what he says to these Christians. He says, you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions.

You see that right there? Just in line with what you said, Bill, it's like we don't oftentimes pray for the will of God. We don't say, thy will be done. We go to God and say, dear God, my will be done.

Would you do this? We feel like prayer at times can be a way of sort of bending God to our wills. Instead of saying, Lord, help me to submit to your will and to follow you and to pray in accordance with your word, we ask, but we ask wrongly. And so if we're praying like that and we're frustrated, well, God, you just didn't hear my prayer.

Why didn't you give me the thing that I wanted? God might respond with James 4, verse 3. Well, you ask wrongly to spend it on your own passions.

You're selfish. You're sinful even with your prayers. And so we should be humbled and, again, approach the Lord in faith and as you brought up, Bill, praying according to the will of God. Amen.

So well said. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, you can always leave us a voicemail. Our voicemail system is open 24 hours a day. If you do call and leave us your question, make sure to let us know your name and where you are calling from. Here's a voicemail we got from Nick in Los Angeles.

Hey, Bill and Adriel. I wanted to ask a question about prayer. I tend to be more of a writer than a speaker and I started this prayer journal and it sort of replaced my out loud prayers. So my question is, is that okay to do, to just write in a prayer journal instead of praying aloud or is praying aloud essential?

Thank you. Totally okay and something I encourage, in fact, you know, there are a lot of written prayers in the Bible. The entire book of Psalms, those we might say are written prayers and some of them are prayers of thanksgiving. Some of them are prayers of trust, you know, exhibiting trust. God, I'm putting my trust in you. I need your help for this situation.

I'm looking to you. Some of them are laments where the psalmist is saying, God, why have you forsaken me? It feels like you're so far away from my cry and from the words of my groaning. Those are written songs but they're also written prayers offered up to the Lord. And one of the reasons I often will encourage people to have a prayer journal is because, I mean, how many of us, you know, you start praying and almost as quickly as you start to pray, you get distracted and all of a sudden you're having a mental conversation with a co-worker or something or reliving an experience from earlier in the day or worried about something that's going to happen next month. And it's like, I was just in the middle of praying and all of a sudden now I'm totally somewhere else. Well, one of the ways to help with that, I think, is having a prayer journal helps you keep your train of thought and you're writing your prayers down.

I find, at least personally, that it's helpful in terms of fighting against getting distracted. But I would say, you know, however you're able to, just doing it. I remember one time hearing somebody say, you know, the best kind of evangelism is the kind that you actually do. People argue about handing out tracts or friendship evangelism or, you know, what's the best kind?

And I thought that that was clever. The best kind is the kind that you actually do. We can talk about it all we want, but just sharing Christ and His love with others, that's what we want to be doing. And so whether you're, you know, handing out a gospel tract or sharing with the person you're on an airplane with or building a friendship, you know, looking for opportunities to share the gospel, just being engaged in it. And I would say the same thing with prayer, just actually doing it. And that might look like, you know, praying out loud in the morning. That might look like sitting down for a period of time in the afternoon or in the evening with a prayer journal. However you're doing it, I would say wonderful, and may God bless you as you continue to do that, Nick.

And so thank you for reaching out with that question, and I'm encouraged to hear that this is something that you do. You're listening to Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We're answering lots of questions about prayer today. And Adriel actually has a brand new book just released on prayer, and it deals with the Lord's Prayer. That's right, the book is called Praying with Jesus, Getting to the Heart of the Lord's Prayer.

And it's a project I've been working on for a while, something I'm really excited about, hope that it encourages you in your own prayer life. I maybe just want to even say if you're in a church and you're looking for something to go through for a Bible study or a small group, and you're thinking, oh man, it'd be great to learn more about prayer and to grow in this sort of discipline or habit of prayer, I think that this could be a great resource for you. There are examples of prayer throughout the book, but also just different practices that you can incorporate in your own life personally and in the life of the church, as well as some discussion questions at the end of each chapter. So 10 chapters on prayer and on the Lord's Prayer. And again, the book is called Praying with Jesus, Getting to the Heart of the Lord's Prayer. Just out of curiosity, when you're going through the Lord's Prayer, it seems like Jesus has different, maybe, attitudes as you're going through the things that he's praying for for his disciples and to his Heavenly Father.

Can you explain that a little bit? Yeah, well, there are several petitions in the Lord's Prayer, and what's interesting is, you know, Jesus begins with this very doxological focus on the glory of God. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. And so magnifying the name of the Lord, worship, prayer, and the relationship between prayer and worship, I think that's central to the Lord's Prayer. But then, you know, Jesus emphasizes the needs that we have as his people. Not just spiritual needs, but also our bodily, physical needs. Sometimes, you know, people refer to these as our temporal needs. We pray for our daily bread, you know, the things that we need to survive in life.

You think of, you know, your job, gainful employment, you think of your health. But we also pray for those spiritual needs, those deep spiritual needs that we have, the forgiveness of our sins, protection from the evil one and from temptation. And so you do have, I mean, really, it covers everything, the Lord's Prayer.

And so, excited again about getting to share this resource with our listeners. Once again, it's called Praying with Jesus, Getting to the Heart of the Lord's Prayer, a great resource for you or maybe for your church Bible study or small group. You can get that for a donation of $25 or more by going to corechristianity.com forward slash praying.

That's corechristianity.com forward slash praying. And you can also call us for any of our resources at this number, 833-THE-CORE. That's 833-843-2673. You can use that number to leave a voicemail, leave a question as well for Adriel.

And here's a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners named Richard. My question for Pastor Adriel, there are so many parts in the Bible where it tells you how to pray a certain way, such as in Matthew, such as in Psalms. When you're seeking prayer, what is the correct way to pray? What scripture should I use?

Well, I think you just hit the nail on the head. I mean, you brought up Matthew, and I'm assuming that you're thinking about, you know, the Lord's Prayer described in Matthew chapter 6. You brought up the Psalms as well. The Psalms, I think, really show us that not only are there different types of prayer, but, you know, just in the seasons of life that we go through, we always have the ability to pray, whether it's a time of great joy and thanksgiving, you have those hymns of praise, these anthems of worship, or, as I mentioned earlier, the lamentations, times of deep sorrow, times of deep depression, still being able to come to the Lord, even with that prayer in the darkness.

And so, you know, the Psalms help us to pray, but they help to shape our prayers. And then, of course, the text that you brought up in Matthew chapter 6, I think it's so fascinating there, because Jesus, right before he gets into the Lord's Prayer proper, he tells us how not to pray. You remember in verse 5, he says, When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. In other words, don't be hypocritical in your prayers, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. So hypocrisy is one of the diseases that destroys prayer, genuine prayer. But not just hypocrisy, he goes on, and Jesus says, Don't be like the Gentiles. So you have the hypocrites, but he says, Don't pray heaping up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words.

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. So you don't want to pray hypocritically, but you also don't want to pray superstitiously. That was how the pagans, the Gentiles prayed at that time. They're heaping up these many words, they're using prayer as a kind of magic formula to try to get something from God superstitiously. And Jesus says, Don't do that.

God knows even better than you do what you need. Here's then how you should pray. And then he goes into the Lord's Prayer. Like this, Our Father in heaven, hollow it be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. And just such a powerful prayer, the most powerful prayer in the history of humanity, the most prayed prayer. There isn't another prayer in human history that has been prayed more, I think, than the Lord's Prayer.

And it's really all-encompassing, as I said. It's going to talk about worship, our temporal needs, our spiritual needs. Jesus says, Pray like this. That doesn't mean that you have to just recite the Lord's Prayer word for word, although I think you ought to.

I do, every day. But really, even unpacking each of those petitions there, we can camp out at each one. That's one of the things I do in the book, is just there's a chapter for each petition. And understanding the full implications and significance of, well, what does it mean, God, to hollow your name, to say your kingdom come, your will be done, to pray for my daily bread.

What is the significance of that? And I think it's helpful to even slow down, if we're praying the Lord's Prayer, and maybe even to focus on one petition at a time, and say, okay, meditating upon the needs that we have, and the needs of those around us. And so, certainly, nothing like the scriptures above all else help to shape our prayers and give us wisdom about what we ought to be praying for in order to be praying according to the will of God. And so, if you want to have a strong prayer life, you need to be rooted in the Word of God.

You need to be washed by the scriptures daily. You need to be in a church where you're hearing the Word of God faithfully preached. And that's, I think, integral to cultivating a life of prayer.

So well said. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We do receive emails here at the Core, and you can send us your question anytime. Here's the email address. It's questions at corechristianity.com. Here's one that came in from one of our listeners named Sharon.

She says, Hi, Adriel. My question has to do with Lectio Divina. Recently, our pastor introduced this to the congregation. He said we may have heard of it, and he said it was the way of praying through scripture.

When he said this, a red flag went up in my mind. I'd previously read a lot about this practice and its origins. Thankfully, one thing he did not do was have us repeat a word or phrase over and over again, which contemplative prayer practitioners teach.

Everything else he taught was the basic outline of Lectio Divina. What do you know about this practice, and am I overreacting or rightly concerned? Well, I think it's always good when there's a practice that's introduced to the church to say, okay, well, what exactly is this? Is this biblical?

Is this right? And so in terms of my own tradition, Presbyterian tradition, this is not something that we really do. Other Christian traditions will talk about this and have this, more Lectio Divina. It's really a contemplative way of reading the Bible and praying through the Bible.

I really don't want to, because it's not something that is like a part of my own tradition per se, I don't know, in terms of what the red flags might be, is there a way in which this can go south? And unfortunately, a lot of times with church practices and traditions, that does tend to happen and has happened throughout the history of the church. But I think just generally speaking, the idea of prayerfully reading through the Scriptures, of contemplating the Word of God, I think that is actually a really good thing and something that's really important. I think that's the idea behind what the psalmist is talking about early in the book of Psalms, in Psalm 1.

Blessed is the man who walks, not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night, meditating upon the Word of God, prayerfully meditating upon the Word of God. Not in this sort of Eastern spirituality sense, but in the sense of wanting God's Word to penetrate deeply into our hearts. And we do pray for the illumination of the Holy Spirit anytime we read Scripture. Anytime I preach from the Bible, before the sermon, I'm always praying for that divine illumination, asking God to open our hearts by the grace of the Spirit, because it's only by the Spirit that the Word is made efficacious, effective, powerful in our lives. And so we're dependent upon the Spirit, and so we pray with the Word of God alongside of Scriptures, and God, help me to understand this, help me to know it, help me to believe it, help me to live in accordance with what I'm getting here. And so if that's what's happening, I would say, hey, that's great, that's awesome. Do that, ruminate upon the Word of God, chew the cud, and that's a good thing, prayerfully, to practice for all Christians.

And so hopefully that's helpful, and if maybe there's something else that's going on there, if there's more to it than that in your particular context, and you want to give me a call back and follow up, feel free to do that, we can address it then. You're listening to Core Christianity. Once again, Adriel's new book that was just released is called Praying with Jesus, Getting to the Heart of the Lord's Prayer. You can find out more by going to corechristianity.com forward slash praying.

Here's an email that came in from one of our listeners named Georgina. She said, I've been unsure lately about who to direct my prayers to. I've always prayed directly to God the Father since I follow the example of the Lord's Prayer. But since Jesus and the Holy Spirit are individual persons, should I pray to them directly as well? I know that in charismatic circles they do a lot of direct praying and talking to the Holy Spirit, but that seems strange to me.

Great question. Now ordinarily, I think we do, you know, we offer up prayer, and this is just the example you see in scripture primarily, to the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit. Jesus is our great mediator, the one who gives us access to the Father, to the heavenly throne of grace, through his work as our great high priest. And so we come to the Father, directly to the Father, through the Son, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit, who helps us in our prayers and who also intercedes for us, as we're told in the New Testament. Both the Son and the Spirit praying for us, interceding for us, a really wonderful promise that we have in scripture. But that doesn't mean that we can't pray to the Holy Spirit or to Jesus the Son, because we're talking about the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity. And so there's nothing wrong with praying to the Son.

You know, Jesus says in the Gospels, if you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. And so you can pray to the Son, you can pray to the Spirit, but ordinarily, and I think this is helpful because it reinforces the fact that the access that we have to God in prayer is one that has been won for us, purchased for us by Jesus. We're enabled and strengthened and helped by the Holy Spirit. And so when we come to the Father through Jesus the Son, our great high priest, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I think that's emphasized and it helps us to remember.

And I think that's, you know, one of the beautiful things is we're reminded of this throughout prayer. Even when we say our Father in the Lord's Prayer, well, that presupposes that we've been adopted into the family of God, that we can call God our Father. And how have we been adopted? Well, we've been adopted by the Son, through the work of the Son and by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Paul makes this clear in places like Romans chapter 8. So even those words, our Father, present us to each person of the Holy Trinity. Thanks and God bless. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, go to corechristianity.com forward slash radio. Or you can call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-THE-CORE. When you contact us, let us know how we can be praying for you. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-15 18:56:17 / 2024-04-15 19:06:21 / 10

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