Formulas for Prayer

I’ve read all kinds of kooky articles and a few short books about “magic prayers” in my time, but recently I saw some posts on social media that shared Bible verses and biblical thoughts about prayer. Some years back, I did an extensive study about what the Bible says about the discipline of prayer. But for this post, I’d like to share some of the “formulas” for prayer in the Bible.

What kinds of prayer does God honor?

How can we be sure our prayers are getting higher than the ceiling?

The first prayer that God is for sure going to answer is the call for salvation. He might choose to answer an unsaved person’s other prayers, as well, but we can be sure He will answer this one: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

When the disciples wanted instructions on how to pray, Jesus replied with what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It’s a model for everyone. What should we include in our prayers? Jesus says, After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).

We’re to be in communication with God all the time. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And he (Jesus) spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint (Luke 18:1).

Jesus also instructed the disciples to pray believing: And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matthew 17:20).

Similar to this is praying with faith, And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5:15).

A wonderful formula for prayer is trusting, even when we don’t quite understand. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

This formula helps us see the value of prayer to ask and also give thanks. Be careful (full of care, anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). Notice that the result of praying like this is awesome peace.

Here are a couple more verses about praying with thanksgiving. There are many. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30). Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20).

We need to ask the Lord to lead us in His way, not ours. Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies (Psalm 27:11). Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5).

Something very important is to know how to ask. We need to ask the Lord according to His will. The only way we can know what that is is to learn what the Bible (God’s Word) says about things. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us (1 John 5:14).

There is definitely power when Christians pray together. Jesus is speaking: Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 18:19).

I am not sure if you actually have to say the words “in Jesus’ name we pray,” but we need to be conscious of how we are praying. Jesus says, And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it (John 14:13-14).

God will answer seekers and askers. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7).

He also answers sincere, repentent, intercessory prayers. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18).

I personally love this verse: Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah (Psalm 62:8). Do you need a refuge? Pour your heart out to the Lord.

Just as the Bible gives us encouragement in prayer, it also gives us warnings about praying like people who don’t know God.

What should we not do?

Don’t be a showy hypocrite. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him (Matthew 6:5-8).

Don’t look down on your wife; honor her as equal but different. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

Don’t be unforgiving. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:25).

Prayer is an awesome privilege and an incredible spiritual tool. It is so amazing that we have 24/7 access to God, that He hears, listens, and answers prayers from needy people. Let’s take advantage of it and enjoy our Refuge and Help.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

God bless you!

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