7 occurrences in 7 dictionaries

Reference: Prayer


Is the offering of the emotions and desires of the soul to God, in the name and through the mediation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is the communion of the heart with God through the aid of the Holy Spirit, and is to the Christian the very life of the soul. Without this filial spirit, no one can be a Christian, Job 21:15; Ps 10:4.

In all ages God has delighted in the prayers of his saints. From the promulgation of the law, the Hebrews did not intermit public worship daily in the tabernacle or the temple. It consisted in offering the evening and morning sacrifices, every day, accompanied with prayers by the priests and Levites in that holy edifice. Every day also the priests offered sacrifices, incense, offerings, and first fruits for individuals; they performed ceremonies for the redemption of the firstborn, or for purification from pollution; in a word, the people came thither from all parts to discharge their vows and to perform their devotions, not only on great and solemn days, but also on ordinary days; but nothing of this was performed without prayer, 1Ch 23:30; Ne 11:17; Lu 1:10. Compare also 1Ki 8:22, and the Psalms of David for temple worship.

Pious men were accustomed to pray thrice in the day, at fixed hours, Ps 55:7; Da 6:10. See HOURS. Social, family, and secret prayer were all habitual with Bible saints; as well as brief ejaculations in the midst of their ordinary business, Ne 2:4. No uniform posture in prayer is enjoined in the Bible; standing with the hands outspread, 1Ki 8.22, bowing the head, Ge 24:26, kneeling, Lu 22:41, and prostration on the ground, Mt 26:39, were all practiced. Prayer should be offered with submission to God's will, fervently, perseveringly, and with a confiding reliance on God in Christ; it should be accompanied by humble confession and hearty thanksgiving, and with supplications for all living men, as well as for our friends and those nearest to us. Habitual prayer to God is duty enjoined upon us by sound reason and by right affections; and he who lives without it thereby reveals the atheism of his heart. God requires all men thus to worship him, Eze 36:37; Mt 7:1-11; Php 4:6; 1Ti 2:1-3; Jas 1:5; and for neglecting this duty there can be no sufficient excuse. It is often said that prayer cannot alter the unchangeable purposes of God; but the great scheme of his providence embraces every prayer that shall be offered, as well as the answer it shall receive. It is objected that prayer cannot increase his knowledge of our wants, nor his readiness to supply them; and that in any case he will do what is for the best. But he deems it best to grant many blessings in answer to prayer, which otherwise he would withhold; "He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee." The words of David will be those of every truly praying man: "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles," Ps 34:6.

False and formed religion makes a merit of its prayers, as though "much speaking" and "vain repetitions" could atone for heartlessness. Hypocrites also are wont to pray chiefly that they may have praise of men. These sins Christ reproves in Mt 6:5-15, and gives to his disciples the form of the Lord's prayer as a beautiful model. In Eph 6:18; 1Th 5:17; 1Ti 2:8, Paul directs that believers should pray in all places and at all times, lifting up pure hands towards heaven, and blessing God for all things, whether in eating, drinking, or what ever they do; and that every thing be done to the glory of God, 1Co 10:31. In a word, our Savior has recommended to us to pray without ceasing, Lu 18:1; 21:36.

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is converse with God; the intercourse of the soul with God, not in contemplation or meditation, but in direct address to him. Prayer may be oral or mental, occasional or constant, ejaculatory or formal. It is a "beseeching the Lord" (Ex 32:11); "pouring out the soul before the Lord" (1Sa 1:15); "praying and crying to heaven" (2Ch 32:20); "seeking unto God and making supplication" (Job 8:5); "drawing near to God" (Ps 73:28); "bowing the knees" (Eph 3:14).

Prayer presupposes a belief in the personality of God, his ability and willingness to hold intercourse with us, his personal control of all things and of all his creatures and all their actions.

Acceptable prayer must be sincere (Heb 10:22), offered with reverence and godly fear, with a humble sense of our own insignificance as creatures and of our own unworthiness as sinners, with earnest importunity, and with unhesitating submission to the divine will. Prayer must also be offered in the faith that God is, and is the hearer and answerer of prayer, and that he will fulfil his word, "Ask, and ye shall receive" (Mt 7:7-8; 21:22; Mr 11:24; Joh 14:13-14), and in the name of Christ (20/type/net'>Mr 16:20,20; 15:16; Eph 2:18; 5:20; Col 3:17; 1Pe 2:5).

Prayer is of different kinds, secret (Mt 6:6); social, as family prayers, and in social worship; and public, in the service of the sanctuary.

Intercessory prayer is enjoined (Nu 6:23; Job 42:8; Isa 62:6; Ps 122:6; 1Ti 2:1; Jas 5:14), and there are many instances on record of answers having been given to such prayers, e.g., of Abraham (Ge 17:18,20; 18:23-32; 20:7,17-18), of Moses for Pharaoh (Ex 8:12-13,30-31; 9:33), for the Israelites (Ex 17:11,13; 32:11-14,31-34; Nu 21:7-8; De 9:18-19,25), for Miriam (Nu 12:13), for Aaron (De 9:20), of Samuel (1Sa 7:5-12), of Solomon (1Ki 8; 2Ch 6), Elijah (1Ki 17:20-23), Elisha (2Ki 4:33-36), Isaiah (2Ki 19), Jeremiah (Jer 42:2-10), Peter (Ac 9:40), the church (Ac 12:5-12), Paul (Ac 28:8).

No rules are anywhere in Scripture laid down for the manner of prayer or the attitude to be assumed by the suppliant. There is mention made of kneeling in prayer (1Ki 8:54; 2Ch 6:13; Ps 95:6; Isa 45:23; Lu 22:41; Ac 7:60; 9:40; Eph 3:14, etc.); of bowing and falling prostrate (Ge 24:26,52; Ex 4:31; 12:27; Mt 26:39; Mr 14:35, etc.); of spreading out the hands (1Ki 8:22,38,54; Ps 28:2; 63:4; 88:9; 1Ti 2:8, etc.); and of standing (1Sa 1:26; 1Ki 8:14,55; 2Ch 20:9; Mr 11:25; Lu 18:11,13).

If we except the "Lord's Prayer" (Mt 6:9-13), which is, however, rather a model or pattern of prayer than a set prayer to be offered up, we have no special form of prayer for general use given us in Scripture.

Prayer is frequently enjoined in Scripture (Ex 22:23,27; 1Ki 3:5; 2Ch 7:14; Ps 37:4; Isa 55:6; Joe 2:32; Eze 36:37, etc.), and we have very many testimonies that it has been answered (Ps 3:4; 4:1; 6:8; 18:6; 28:6; 30:2; 34:4; 118:5; Jas 5:16-18, etc.).

Abraham's servant prayed to God, and God directed him to the person who should be wife to his master's son and heir (Ge 24:10-20).

Jacob prayed to God, and God inclined the heart of his irritated brother, so that they met in peace and friendship (Ge 32:24-30; 33:1-4).

Samson prayed to God, and God showed him a well where he quenched his burning thirst, and so lived to judge Israel (Jg 15:18-20).

David prayed, and God defeated the counsel of Ahithophel (2Sa 15:31; 16:20-23; 17:14-23).

Daniel prayed, and God enabled him both to tell Nebuchadnezzar his dream and to give the interpretation of it (Da 2:16-23).

Nehemiah prayed, and God inclined the heart of the king of Persia to grant him leave of absence to visit and rebuild Jerusalem (Ne 1:11; 2:1-6).

Esther and Mordecai prayed, and God defeated the purpose of Haman, and saved the Jews from destruction (Es 4:15-17; 6:7-8).

The believers in Jerusalem prayed, and God opened the prison doors and set Peter at liberty, when Herod had resolved upon his death (Ac 12:1-12).

Paul prayed that the thorn in the flesh might be removed, and his prayer brought a large increase of spiritual strength, while the thorn perhaps remained (2Co 12:7-10).

Prayer is like the dove that Noah sent forth, which blessed him not only when it returned with an olive-leaf in its mouth, but when it never returned at all., Robinson's Job.

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(1) Techinnah, from chandra "to be gracious"; hithpael, "to entreat grace"; Greek deesis.

(2) Tephillah, from hithpael of paalal, "to seek judgment"; Greek proseuchee. "Prayer," proseuchee, for obtaining blessings, implying devotion; "supplication," deesis, for averting evil. "Prayer" the general term; "supplication" with imploring earnestness (implying the suppliant's sense of need); enteuxis, intercession for others, coming near to God, seeking an audience in person, generally in another's behalf. Thanksgiving should always go with prayer (1Ti 2:1; Eph 6:18; Php 4:6). An instinct of every nation, even pagan (Isa 16:12; 44:17; 45:20; 1Ki 18:26). In Seth's days, when Enos (frailty) was born to him, "men began to call upon the name of Jehovah."

The name Enos embodies the Sethites' sense of human frailty urging them to prayer, in contrast to the Cainites' self sufficient "pride of countenance" which keeps sinners from seeking God (Ps 10:4). While the Cainites by building a city and inventing arts were founding the kingdom of this world, the Sethites by united calling upon Jehovah constituted the first church, and laid the foundation of the kingdom of God. The name of God is His whole self manifestation in relation to man. On this revealed divine character of grace and power believers fasten their prayers (Ps 119:49; Pr 18:10). The sceptic's objections to prayer are:

(1) The immutability of nature's general laws. But nature is only another name for the will of God; that will provides for answers to prayer in harmony with the general scheme of His government of the world. There are higher laws than those observed in the material world; the latter are subordinate to the former.

(2) God's predestinating power, wisdom and love make prayer useless and needless. But man is made a free moral agent; and God who predestines the blessing predestines prayer as the means to that end (Mt 24:20).

Prayer produces and strengthens in the mind conscious dependence on God, faith, and love, the state for receiving and appreciating God's blessing ordained in answer to prayer. Moreover prayer does not supersede work; praying and working are complementary of each other (Ne 4:9). Our weakness drives us to cast ourselves on God's fatherly love, providence, and power. Our "Father knoweth what things we have need of before we ask Him"; "we know not what things we should pray for as we ought" (Mt 6:8; Ro 8:26). Yet "the Spirit helpeth our infirmities," and Jesus teaches us by the Lord's prayer how to pray (Luke 11). Nor is the blessing merely subjective; but we may pray for particular blessings, temporal and spiritual, in submission to God's will, for ourselves. "Thy will be done," (Mt 6:10) and "if we ask anything according to His will" (1Jo 5:14-15), is the limitation. Every truly believing prayer contains this limitation. God then grants either the petition or something better than it, so that no true prayer is lost (2Co 12:7-10; Lu 22:42; Heb 5:7).

Also "intercessions" for others (the effect of which cannot be merely subjective) are enjoined (1Ti 2:1). God promises blessings in answer to prayer, as the indispensable condition of the gift (Mt 7:7-8). Examples confirm the command to pray. None prayed so often as Jesus; early in the morning "a great while before day" (Mr 1:35), "all the night" (Lu 6:12), in Gethsemane with an "agony" that drew from Him "sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground" (Lu 22:44); "when He was being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened" (Lu 3:21); "as He prayed" He was transfigured (Lu 9:29); "as He was praying in a certain place" (Lu 11:1) one disciple struck by His prayer said, "Lord teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples" (Lu 11:1) (an interesting fact here only recorded). Above all, the intercession in John 17, His beginning of advocacy with the Father for us; an example of the highest and holiest spiritual communion.

The Holy Spirit in believers "maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." "He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit," and so casts off all that is imperfect and mistaken in our prayers, and answer s the Spirit who speaks in them what we would express aright but cannot (Ro 8:26-27,34). Then our Intercessor at God's right hand presents out prayers, accepted on the ground of His merits and blood (Joh 14:13; 15:16; 16:23-27). Thus God incarnate in the God-man Christ reconciles God's universal laws, i.e. His will, with our individual freedom, and His predestination with our prayers. Prayer is presupposed as the adjunct of sacrifice, from the beginning (Ge 4:4). Jacob's wrestling with the divine Angel and prayer, in Genesis 32, is the first full description of prayer; compare the inspired continent on it, Ho 12:3-6. But Abraham's intercession for Sodom (Genesis 18), and Isaac's, preceded (Ge 24:63 margin).

Moses' law prescribes sacrifice, and takes for granted prayer (except the express direction for prayer, De 26:12-15) in connection with it and the sanctuary, as both help us to realize God's presence; but especially as prayer needs a propitiation or atonement to rest on, such as the blood of the sacrifices symbolizes. The temple is "the house of prayer" (Isa 56:7). He that hears player (Ps 65:2) three manifested Himself. Toward it the prayer of the nation, and of individuals, however distant, was directed (1Ki 8:30,35,38,46-49; Da 6:10; Ps 5:7; 28:2; 138:2). Men used to go to the temple at regular hours for private prayer (Lu 18:10; Ac 3:1). Prayer apparently accompanied all offerings, as did the incense its symbol (Ps 141:2; Re 8:3-4; Lu 1:10; De 26:12-15, where a form of prayer is prescribed).

The housetop and mountain were chosen places for prayer, raised above the world. The threefold Aaronic blessing (Nu 6:24-26), and Moses' prayer at the moving (expanded in Psalm 68) and resting of the ark (Nu 10:35-36), are other forms of prayer in the Mosaic legislation. The regular times of prayer were the third (morning sacrifice), sixth, and ninth hours (evening sacrifice); Ps 55:17; Da 6:10; 9:21; Ac 3:1; 10:3; 2:15. "Seven times a day" (Ps 119:164), i.e. continually, seven being the number for perfection; compare Ps 119:147-148, by night. Grace was said before meals (Mt 15:36; Ac 27:35).

Posture. Standing: 1Sa 1:26; Mt 6:5; Mr 11:25; Lu 18:11. Kneeling, in humiliation: 1Ki 8:54; 2Ch 6:13; Ezr 9:5; Ps 95:6; Da 6:10. Prostration: Jos 7:6; 1Ki 18:42; Ne 8:6. In the Christian church, kneeling only: (Ac 7:60) Stephen, (Ac 9:40) Peter, (Ac 20:36; 21:5) Paul imitating Christ in Gethsemane. In post apostolic times, standing on the Lord's day, and from Easter to Whitsunday, to commemorate His resurrection and ours with Him. The hands were lifted up, or spread out (Ex 9:33; Ps 28:2; 134:2).

The spiritual songs in the Pentateuch (Ex 15:1-19; Nu 21:17-18; Deuteronomy 32) and succeeding books (Judges 5; 2/1/type/net'>1Sa 2:1-10,2 Samuel 22; 1Ki 8:23-53; Ne 9:5-38) abound in prayer accompanied with praise. The Psalms give inspired forms of prayer for public and private use. Hezekiah prayed in the spirit of the Psalms. The prophets contain many such prayers (Isaiah 12; 25; 26; Isa 37:14-20; 38:9-20; Da 9:3-23). The praise and the reading and expounding of the law constituted the service of the synagogue under the sheliach hatsibbur, "the apostle" or "legate of the church."

THE LORD'S PRAYER, (Mt 6:9-13) couched in the plural, "when ye pray, say, Our Father ... give us ... forgive us ... lead us" shows that forms suit public joint prayer. "Thou when thou prayest, enter into thy closet ... shut thy door, pray to thy Father [which is] in secret" (Mt 6:6); in enjoining private prayer Christ gives no form. The Lord's prayer is our model. The invocation is the plea on which the prayer is grounded, God's revealed Fatherhood. Foremost stand the three petitions for hallowing God's name, God's kingdom coming, God's will being done below as above; then our four needs, for bread for body and soul, for forgiveness producing a forgiving spirit in ourselves, or not being led into temptation, and for deliverance from evil. The petitions are seven the sacred number (Mt 6:5-13).

Prayer was the breath of th

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Prayer in the Bible is the uplifting of the heart to God with whatever motive. It includes supplication, whether in view of material or of spiritual needs; intercession, for individuals or communities; confession of sin

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