Is Prayer Mandatory or Considered a Supplement to the Christian Walk? Part 1
Is prayer mandatory in the Christian walk or is it supplementary? I know many Believers who are not comfortable with praying in public. I personally like to pray silently, but there are times I must take the lead and model prayer for others. We often see people requesting prayer via social media and others state that they will pray for them. But do they really pray? This article is geared to sharing some Scripture and some points in how we should be conducting prayer and how prayer does affect our walk with Christ as well as others.
I most recently wrote a short paper on a Personal Prayer Analysis. I did some simple research of the four Gospels and found the following:
“Upon investigating the Scriptures in the four Gospels, where Jesus revealed an approach to prayer, this student used a Bible Gateway word search engine of the words pray, prayer, and praying. The result returned twenty-eight verses or passages. The descriptions were given as the following seventeen topics: Pray for Enemies, Pray Alone, Pray All Night, Early Morning Prayer, Keep Watch, Humble Heart, Exorcism Prayer, Baptism, Pray in Secret, Lord’s Prayer, Children, Faith, High Priestly Prayer, Temple is House of Prayer, Temple Prayer for all Nations, and Forgiveness. Of these topics, two references were found for Pray for Enemies; Four references were found for to Pray Alone; two references were found for to Pray All Night; three references were found for to Keep Watch; two references were found for Temptation; two references were found for the Lord’s Prayer; and three references were found for Faith. The remainder topics had one reference each. Of these references, what stood out the most was to pray often such as all night prayer, to pray in secret, to pray alone, to pray for our enemies, to keep watch or else we will be tempted, to have faith in what we ask, to come to the Father like a child, and if we do not know what to pray, Christ gave instructions by example with The Lord’s Prayer” (Lee, 2017, 4-5).
Of the twenty-eight verses and passages, the following chart was constructed to determine what Scriptures referenced prayer and for what subject.
|Pray for Enemies||Matthew 5:44||Pray in Secret||Matthew 6:5-6|
|Pray Alone||Matthew 14:23||Lord’s Prayer||Matthew 6:9-13|
|Mark 6:46||Luke 11:1-4|
|Luke 9:18||Children||Matthew 19:13|
|Pray All Night||Matthew 26:36|
|Early Morning Prayer||Mark 1:35||Faith||Matthew 21:22|
|Keep Watch||Matthew 26:41||Mark 11:24|
|Mark 14:38||Luke 18:1|
|Luke 21:36||High Priestly Prayer||John 17:1-26|
|Humble Heart||Luke 18:10-14|
|Luke 22:46||Temple is House of Prayer||Luke 19:46|
|Exorcism Prayer||Mark 9:29||Temple Prayer for All Nations||Mark 11:17|
|Baptism||Luke 3:21||Forgiveness||Mark 11:25|
“As this student researched and read through all the Scriptures, he realized that his own prayer life needed an overhaul. Although he prays, it is not often enough. For instance, Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-6 that when we should pray, we should not pray to impress others as depicted in verse 5, but to go into our room and pray to the Father in private and in secret. This student does not spend enough time praying. While Matthew 26:36 shows Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, He told His disciples to sit while he went to pray. In verse 27, He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and he began to pray. He prayed for an hour and his disciples could not even keep their eyes open. But the indication from these passages is that people should pray, in private, or even with two or three other Believers, so that they are seeking God during times of trouble. As Jesus was facing ultimate condemnation and crucifixion, his disciples could not seem to pray because of their weakness. In this student’s own life, he strives to pray and stay faithful in prayer, but has been found weak in his practices” (Lee, 2017, 5-6).
How can one start a prayer life? Look at part of my conclusion from this short paper.
“In conclusion, this student must become more disciplined in his approach to prayer. He must find a private and quite place away from technology to pray. When praying, he will start using The Lord’s Prayer and then continue to have a conversation with the Father. He must come to the Father like a child and have childlike faith. He must have a humble heart and pray for not only his forgiveness, but to pray that he will forgive others for any wrongdoing in which they have done to him. He must pray for his enemies. He must pray to keep watch so that he will not be tempted by the ways of the world or distractions from prayer. He needs to become more disciplined to get up early and pray before others rise and the day starts. At times, when he needs to get closer to God, he needs to search Scripture, pray, even if it’s all night, so that he will seek God first in his life. This regimen must be done alone, so that he will have that intimate and personal relationship with his Father. He can no longer use the excuse or procrastinate because this intimate relationship with God is needed in his life. Fasting will also be incorporated as this will bring the student closer to God. He will strive to pray multiple times each day and it should start early in the morning” (Lee, 2017, 6-7).
Now that we have discussed prayer and the types of prayers, let’s get into what John MacArthur et al. states about prayer. Donald G. McDougall states, “Prayer by individual Christians, by Christian leaders, by the corporate body of the church, by small groups, and by men are all necessary. The content of prayers should focus predominately on ultimate spiritual battles with the forces of evil rather than on the mundane affairs of everyday life. A right purpose and a proper attitude should determine the matter of prayers” (MacArthur, 2005, 144).
McDougall states that God’s people need to learn to pray. McDougall reminds us that to get a remedy for problems, you must pray. Look at James 4:2, “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” Look at the latter part of the verse, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” Prayer is quite the remedy (MacArthur, 2005, 145).
McDougal continues, “At the very root of it all is the need for each believer to realize that prayer is foundational; prayer is not supplemental. Believers need to pray more, to pray more often, and to pray over many more issues. The reminder to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 is just as applicable today as it ever was. If we are to experience the blessings that only God can give, we as God’s people must humble ourselves and pray” (MacArthur, 2005, 146).
In conclusion, to set up prayer time, one must know how to pray as well as what to pray for. Jesus gave us a model prayer, which is called The Lord’s Prayer. Here is the prayer:
Our Father, who are in Heaven,
Hallowed 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 our trespasses and sins,
As we forgive those who trespasses and sin against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
And the power, and the glory,
The above prayer is an excellent prayer to start with and then start to pray for other things that will glorify God. Please look at the prayer guide and determine what you are to pray for. Read the associated Scriptures and follow the leading of the Lord Jesus in prayer.
This is the beginning of a series of articles, which are meant to help those with determining what and how to pray. The best way to start a prayer life is to read Scripture and then start a conversation with God, through prayer.
Lee, Joseph T. “Personal Prayer Guide.” Rawlings School of Divinity, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA, 2017.
MacArthur, John. Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005.
Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © December 28, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.