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Bible verses about Prayer, Effectiveness in
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 12:34-37

Have we ever considered applying this principle a little differently? Most of us naturally think of this passage to refer to our conversations with others at home, at work, at play, at the store, at church services, etc. But what about applying it to ourselves when we are on our knees before God? Have we ever considered that out of the abundance of our prayers - or the lack thereof - our heart speaks?

Further, do we deeply consider what we say to God? Do we take the time to organize and improve how we present our requests to Him? Do we think about the attitude in which we come before the great God of the universe?

Though we may not always count it a blessing, God knows our every thought, every desire, every emotion. It is impossible to hide anything from Him (Hebrews 4:13). The beauty in truly understanding this is that we may as well be totally honest with Him, telling Him everything, because He already knows the deepest intents of our hearts!

He sees the tender feelings we have toward the plights of others and our desire to help. He notes the patience, forbearance, and true outgoing concern we have for the brethren in the church. He knows the deep love we have for those who request our prayers for their healing. He observes our sighing and crying over the wretched world we live in (see Ezekiel 9:4).

Conversely, He also sees when we are being self-centered, pigheadedly pursuing our own desires, and justifying what we want as opposed to what is right and good in His sight. He notices when we ignore the needs of others. He surely must shake His head in shame when we excuse ourselves for not doing what we know to be righteous.

God is acutely aware of our attitudes when approaching His throne. He discerns whether we consider time spent in conversation with Him to be of great value, or whether we are just going through the motions. Because He knows what we are going through at all times, He knows when we are harboring grudges, doubts, malice, lust, impatience, covetousness, and any other carnal motivation against another. Certainly, He realizes that we will not be at our best every time we enter His presence, but He can tell when we are distracted or disinterested.

God is shaping us for future offices in His Kingdom, and He learns a great deal about us as we come before Him in prayer. He truly does listen to what we bring before Him, but He always considers our heart and our reasoning in His response to us.

This does not mean that we have to pray perfectly every time, having every word and rationale in its proper place, although doing so should be our goal. Romans 8:26-27 assures us:

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit . . . makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He [Jesus Christ; see verse 34] makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Even though we might not put every word or thought in its proper place, still the ideas, plans, and attitudes in our prayers are amplified and aided by God's Spirit flowing between God and ourselves, and the Father responds according to His will for us. Paul continues, providing us greater confidence and boldness before God, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (verse 28). What joy we should have in knowing that everything will work out splendidly in the end!

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Out of the Abundance of Our Prayers


 

Matthew 17:19-21

A lack of faith is a sign of a weak prayer life. Jesus Christ advises us how to address unbelief—prayer and fasting.

On a human level, how do we build trust, faith, and loyalty? Will we have faith in someone we do not know? Can we be loyal to a stranger? We build confidence in others through repeated contact with them over time—close and frequent communication. As we get to know them, to see them in action, to see their characters, we eventually reach a point where we can have trust and faith in them and in their behavior. Is it any different with God?

Prayer provides the repeated and continual contact with God that we need to get to know Him. This sets in motion the process that will lead to faith, to God being willing to give us the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8). The prayerful person becomes the faithful person, not the other way around. Hebrews 11:6 illustrates this point: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

Notice the condition in this verse: God is not the rewarder of everyone, but "of those who diligently seek Him." The gift of living faith comes from diligently, actively seeking Him, consistently and with zeal. Prayer is a major tool in seeking God, along with study, fasting, and using the knowledge gained to conform to His will—practical Christian living and overcoming. Those who prove their diligence by doing these things are the ones rewarded with the faith to overcome (I John 5:4).

The Sabbath is an external sign that identifies God's people (Exodus 31:13, 17). Yet a person may be a nominal Sabbath-keeper without having a true relationship with God. Is there another sign—a less visible one—that perhaps only God sees? Yes, and Zechariah 13:9 shows it is prayer: "They will pray in my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'You are my people,' and they will reply, 'You, LORD, are our God!'" (Contemporary English Version).

Those with a weak prayer life have weak faith (Matthew 17:19-21). Those with weak faith are sinful (Romans 14:23) and are promised death (Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23). That is just how important earnest prayer is as part of a solid foundation, especially during the end time. As I Peter 4:7 instructs, "But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers."

Pat Higgins
Praying Always (Part Two)


 

Luke 18:1-8

The Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8) teaches the necessity of patient, persistent, and persevering prayer, much like the Parable of the Persistent Friend (Luke 11:5-13). A mention of prayer precedes both parables. Though delivered in different situations, they both show the absolute, immeasurable contrast between God and men, and provide evidence that God yields to the saints' pleading and urging. Both parables depict a person granting a request because of his selfish motives. The Persistent Friend's persevering prayer is for necessities, while the Persistent Widow's is for protection. Both parables conclude that God will not fail us as friends and acquaintances often do.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow is especially linked with the final crisis of the last days and the painful circumstances the faithful remnant will face. Prayer will be a major resource for them. Since vengeance is God's alone, they know He will judge their oppressors, but as they wait for deliverance, persevering prayer will be their refreshment and supply of patience. The parable is preceded by Jesus' exhortation on the Christian duty to pray, dedication in prayer, and resisting the temptation to discontinue prayer. It concludes by indicating that prayer is a matter of faith.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Widow


 

Luke 18:1

Concerning our habits of prayer, "always" does not mean we should pray every single minute of the day. If this were so, the faith involved in prayer would be a dead one, as we would never have time to do the works required with it (James 2:17-18, 20, 26). "Always" means that we should be faithful to our regular times of prayer. Concerning the time of prayer, "always" includes the fact that we should pray in both good and bad times. Sadly, some pray only in a crisis, and others forget to offer a prayer of thanksgiving when God has intervened to solve a problem or provide a blessing (I Thessalonians 5:17-18). Regarding the spirit of prayer, "always" means we should be continually ready to pray, praying whenever a crisis hits or a need arises. Because they reveal our priorities, good habits of prayer show dedication to God and strengthen our relationship with Him.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Widow


 

Luke 21:36

Coupled with watching and overcoming, the next subject that Jesus addresses in Luke 21:36 is prayer. To grasp just how important prayer is, notice the example of Daniel, one of the three most righteous men in the Bible, according to Ezekiel 14:14. Part of his story is in Daniel 6:7, 10:

All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. . . . Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.

Daniel believed that prayer was so essential that he chose to risk his life to lions rather than lose contact with God for even a part of a day. We could say that he feared the Lion of Judah more than any physical lion. To him, prayer was a life-and-death issue. Is it to us? How many excuses would we have made to avoid those lions? What excuses do we make today to justify a lack of prayer?

Is anything more serious than a life-and-death issue? Because of the Bible's obviously high regard for Daniel, it is reasonable to assume that his attitude about prayer played a significant part in deserving the label of "righteous." Prayer, for us, becomes a spiritual life-and-death question, not just a physical one as Daniel faced.

Pat Higgins
Praying Always (Part Two)


 

Colossians 4:2-4

Paul instructs us not only not to neglect prayer, but also to keep at it in earnest. He advises us to watch for opportunities to pray for others and for situations, especially in the church, that require prayer. This important work belongs to us individually.

At the time, the apostle was imprisoned in Rome, and he desperately longed to be released so that he could proclaim the gospel and teach God's way as he had been commissioned to do. He was certain that, through the power of prayer, God would open a door - perhaps the door to his prison - to present God's Word to others. The apostle knew that this was God's will for him, so prayer according to that same will would be effective.

The lesson for us today is to pray for the ministers who speak to us, teaching the doctrines and principles that will help us to overcome, grow in grace and knowledge, and obtain the understanding to put on the image of Christ. We must realize that their messages go out, not just to us, but to other members of the congregation who may have different needs than we do. In addition, they are spread around the world via the Internet to people who may have had a long association with God's truth, as well as to those who are truly babes in the Word of God. We need to pray that God inspires the ministry to fill the needs that He sees in today's very diverse audience.

Prior to each Sabbath service, we should humbly pray in deep appreciation for whoever is presenting the messages, asking that God would guide their messages and that all who hear them might receive what Jesus Christ wants them to understand. Such an attitude and prayer will please God greatly.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Out of the Abundance of Our Prayers


 

Hebrews 11:6

"He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" - Undoubtedly, all of us want to be rewarded by God, but are we willing to make the effort, that is, to pay the price? This is an intrinsic part of the statement made here. This phrase, "seek Him," means to seek God out or search for Him with earnestness and diligence. We are to seek Him with a sincere desire to obtain His favor. The word "diligently" is a very strong word, and in a different context, has the sense of requiring or even demanding. It implies a great deal of persistence.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Seeking God


 

James 5:16-20

Though he seems to be speaking about praying for those who are sick, the overall command is specifically to "pray for one another."

Further, James instructs us to confess our faults. The apostle does not mean that we should reveal every sin and foible to everyone in the congregation. He implies that we should confide our problems to a close, trusted friend so that he or she can help us by praying to God for help in overcoming it.

We should pray for one another, and it need not be known by others or even asked of us. We may notice a brother struggling with a problem, and rather than pointing out his flaw to others, we should get on our knees to petition God to come to his aid. The apostle James assures us that such a prayer, given seriously and thoughtfully, will make a difference.

The Jews say regarding prayer: "He who prays surrounds his house with a wall stronger than iron." Another of their sayings runs: "Penitence can do something, but prayer can do everything." To them, prayer is nothing less than contacting and employing the power of God; it is the channel through which the strength and grace of God is brought to bear on the troubles of life.

In the next two verses, James uses the illustration of Elijah to show just how effective righteous prayer can be. He chose Elijah because the biblical story of this prophet brings out his passionate - and sometimes still carnal - nature. Nevertheless, he prayed earnestly for drought, and God responded: No rain fell on the earth for three years and six months! When he prayed again for rain, God again heard and acted. What tremendous power can be unleashed through prayer that conforms to the will of God!

James 5:19-20 continues the theme. If we see a brother straying from the truth, and with the help of prayer, restore him to a right understanding, we may indeed be saving him from the Lake of Fire, from the second death! Such loving help is the essence of true outgoing concern.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Out of the Abundance of Our Prayers


 

 




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