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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Prayer

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PRAYER . 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 but also assertion of righteousness; adoration; colloquy with God; vows; thanksgiving; blessing; Imprecation. The results are chiefly objective and external. But the apparent failure of prayer may be more instructive than its outward success. (Apart from Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane [ Mark 14:35 ff. ||], take St. Paul’s for the removal of his affliction [ 2 Corinthians 12:8 f.].) Failure makes way for a boon greater than the one denied. Such cases would support the view that prayer is reflex in its action, specially potent in a subjective, inward, spiritual sense. Intercessory prayer must on the lowest view be of great altruistic value; while a recognition of God’s personality makes natural the belief that He may control events in answer to prayer made according to His will.

1. Terminology

(i.) In OT. (1) The moat usual noun ( tephillah ) and the verb (primarily of intercession) connected with it are possibly derived from a root meaning ‘to cut.’ If so, this might hark back to days when devotees lacerated their flesh in worship (cf. 1 Kings 18:28 ). Another word (used only of prayer to God) is from a root of similar meaning Some conjecture that the Jewish tephillin (phylacteries) originated as substitutes for such marks of laceration. tephillah may, however, indicate merely ‘intervention.’

(2) Several words mean ‘to call.’ To ‘call on the Name’ is to worship ( e.g. Genesis 4:26 ). Others mean to call for the redress of wrongs ( e.g. Judges 3:9 ), or for help in trouble ( e.g. Psalms 72:12 ). One noun is a ‘ringing outcry’ ( e.g. Psalms 17:1 ).

(3) It is natural to find words meaning ‘seek’ ( e.g. Amos 5:4 ; a different word in Hosea 5:15 ‘to seek God’s face’), ‘ask’ ( e.g. Psalms 105:40 ). To all such words, and generally, the correlative is ‘hear’ or ‘answer.’

(4) Some expressions are anthropomorphic: ‘to encounter,’ ‘fall upon’ in order to supplicate or intercede ( e.g. Jeremiah 7:16 ); ‘to make the face of God pleasant,’ i.e. to appease ( e.g. Exodus 32:11 ), thus equivalent to a more general word, ‘to crave favour’ ( e.g. Deuteronomy 3:23 ).

(5) Other terms regard the suppliant’s state of mind: prayer is ‘an outpouring of soul’ ( e.g. Psalms 62:8 ); or ‘a meditation’ ( e.g. John 15:4 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ); or ‘complaint’ ( e.g. Psalms 142:2 ); or the original connotation may be physical, ‘to bow down’ ( Ezra 6:10 , cf. Ephesians 3:14 ), ‘to whisper’ ( Isaiah 26:16 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ).

(ii.) In NT. (1) The classical Gr. word ( proseuchomai ) is largely used. Unlike most OT words, this is used for prayer to God only. A related word ( euchomai ) is by itself little more than wish’ ( e.g. Romans 9:3 ), and needs supplementing to mean ‘prayer’ ( e.g. 2 Corinthians 13:7 ). The corresponding noun ( euchç ) usually means ‘vow’ ( e.g. Acts 18:18 ); but ‘prayer’ in James 5:15 .

(2) ‘To call on the Name’ or invoke in prayer ( e.g. Acts 9:14 ).

(3) The words for ‘seek’ and ‘ask’ may be used of requests or inquiries made to man ( e.g . Acts 8:34 ), and do not of themselves connote worship. One word denotes the request of the will ( e.g. Matthew 6:8 ), another the request of need ( e.g. Acts 8:22 ), another the form of the request ( e.g . John 17:9 , cf. RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ).

(4) The OT ‘encounter’ has NT equivalent used of intercession ( e.g. Romans 8:27 ).

(5) Prayer is a ‘struggle’ ( e.g. Romans 15:30 ). One picturesque word ( hike tçria ), found only in Hebrews 5:7 , suggests the olive branches held forth by suppliants.

2. Place, time, and circumstance

(i.) Place. While no restriction is suggested at any period (cf. e.g. Genesis 24:12-13 , Jonah 2:1 , Psalms 42:6 ; Psalms 61:2 , Daniel 6:10 , Luke 6:12 , Acts 16:24-25 ; Acts 21:6 ), and is disclaimed by Christ in view of true worship ( John 4:21-23 ), yet naturally specific worship-centres were regarded as appropriate: thus in early times Shiloh, where the ark rested ( 1 Samuel 1:9-10 ), Mizpah ( 1 Samuel 7:5 , 1Ma 3:48 ), Gibeon ( 1 Kings 3:4 ff.). But, later, the Temple was the place where ( Isaiah 37:14 ff; Isaiah 56:7 ) or (in absence) ‘toward’ which prayer was offered ( 1 Kings 8:29-30 etc., Psalms 28:2 , Daniel 6:10 , 1Es 4:56 ). Synagogues afforded, in later times, local prayer-centres. Where there was no synagogue, a spot outside the town was chosen, near some stream, for hand-washing before prayer ( Acts 16:13 ; Acts 16:16 ). In the NT we find Apostles going to the Temple ( Acts 3:1 ); and St. Paul attended the synagogue on his mission journeys ( Acts 17:1-2 ). Distinctively Christian worship was held in ordinary buildings ( Acts 1:13-14 ; Acts 4:23 ; Acts 12:12 , Colossians 4:15 ) a practice made natural by Jewish arrangements for private prayer ( Daniel 6:10 , Jdt 8:6 ; Jdt 10:2 , Matthew 6:8 , Acts 10:9 ; Acts 10:30 ) or for Passover celebration ( Matthew 26:16 ). Ostentatious praying at street corners is discouraged by Christ ( Matthew 6:5 ).

(ii.) Time. It became a custom to pray thrice daily, i.e. at the 3rd, 6th, and 9th hours (cf. ? Psalms 55:17 [may mean ‘all day long’], Daniel 6:10 , Acts 3:1 ; Acts 10:9 ; Acts 10:30 ; cf. Acts 2:15 ; Acts 1:1-26 ). For instances of ‘grace before meat,’ cf. 1 Samuel 9:13 , Matthew 15:35 , Acts 27:35 , and the Paschal meal.

(iii.) Circumstance

(1) Attitude : ( a ) standing ( e.g. Genesis 18:22 , 1 Samuel 1:26 , Nehemiah 9:5 , Mark 11:25 , Luke 18:11 ; Luke 18:13 [the usual Jewish mode, not followed by early Christian Church save on Sundays and the days between Easter and Whitsun]); ( b ) kneeling ( Psalms 95:6 , Isa 45:23 , 1 Kings 8:54 , Ezra 9:6 , Daniel 6:10 , Luke 22:41 , Acts 7:60 ; Acts 9:40 ; Acts 20:35 ; Acts 21:5 , Ephesians 3:14 ); ( c ) prostrate, face to ground ( Exodus 34:6 , Nehemiah 8:6 , 1Es 8:91 , Jdt 9:1 , 2Ma 13:12 , Matthew 26:39 ); face between knees ( 1 Kings 18:42 , cf. ? Psalms 35:13 b); ( d ) sitting (? 2 Samuel 7:18 ); ( e ) hands uplifted ( Psalms 28:2 ; Psalms 63:4 ; Psalms 134:2 , Lamentations 2:19 ; Lamentations 3:41 , 2Ma 3:20 , 1 Timothy 2:3 ) or extended [symbol of reception from God?] ( Exo 9:20 , 1 Kings 8:22 , Isaiah 1:16 , Ezra 9:5 , Psalms 77:2 [ct. AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ]).

(2) Forms of prayer : ( a ) formulæ ( Deuteronomy 21:7-8 ; Deuteronomy 26:5-15 ); ( b ) the Lord’s Prayer; ( c ) allusion to the Baptist’s ( Luke 11:1 ); ( d ) Christ’s repeated prayer ( Matthew 26:44 ); ( e ) allusion to ‘vain repetitions’ or ‘battology’ ( Matthew 6:7 , cf. Sir 7:14 ).

(3) Incense . The OT word sometimes means merely the smoke from a sacrifice. Real incense was (certainly in later OT period) in use at sacrificial ceremonies, with which prayer was probably always associated (cf. Genesis 12:6 ). Incense typifies prayer ( Psalms 141:2 ; cf. Jeremiah 11:12 , Malachi 1:11 , Luke 1:10 , Revelation 5:8 ; Revelation 8:3-4 ).

(4) Fasting . Being appropriate for times of solicitude and sorrow, fasting naturally became associated with prayer ( Psalms 35:13 ), especially after the Exile ( Nehemiah 1:4 , Daniel 9:3 ; cf. Luke 2:37 ), and was continued in the Christian Church ( Acts 13:3 ; Acts 14:23 , Matthew 9:16 ). The following AV [Note: Authorized Version.] allusions to fasting coupled with prayer are absent from RV [Note: Revised Version.] (but see RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ): Matthew 17:21 , Mark 9:29 , Acts 10:30 , 1 Corinthians 7:5 .

3. Prayer in the OT

(i.) Patriarchal Period. Prayer is (1) colloquy with God ( e.g. Genesis 15:1-2 ; Genesis 15:7-8 ; Genesis 17:15-16 ; Genesis 17:22 ); (2) intercession ( e.g. Genesis 17:16 ; Genesis 18:23 ff.); (3) personal supplication ( e.g. Genesis 15:2 ; Genesis 32:11 ; Genesis 43:14 ); (4) asseveration ( e.g. Genesis 14:22 ); (5) vow ( e.g. Genesis 28:20 ; see art. Vows).

(ii.) The Law ( i.e. as codified and expanded in later times). The reticence as to prayer might suggest that it is voluntary and not patient of legislation; but in OT it is less a general duty (ct. [Note: t. contrast.] NT) than a prophetic privilege (especially re intercession); cf. Genesis 20:7 and below, §§ iii. vi. Note, however, the formulæ for thanksgiving ( Deuteronomy 26:5-11 ), assertion of obedience ( Deuteronomy 26:13-14 , ct. [Note: t. contrast.] NT), supplication ( Deuteronomy 26:16 ), expiation ( Deuteronomy 21:7-8 ).

(iii.) Moses to Judges. (1) Moses pre-eminently a man of prayer and an intercessor ( e.g. Exodus 8:12 ; Exodus 8:30 ; Exodus 32:11-13 ; Exodus 32:32 , cf. Jeremiah 15:1 ): colloquy with God ( Exodus 3:1-22 ; Exodus 4:1-31 ; Exodus 5:22 ; Exodus 6:1 ; Exodus 6:10 ; Exodus 6:12 ; Exodus 6:28-30 , Deuteronomy 3:23-25 ), appeal in crises ( Exodus 5:22 , Numbers 11:11 ), prophetic blessing ( Deuteronomy 33:6-11 ); (2) Joshua’s prayer after defeat ( Joshua 7:7-9 ), and in battle ( Joshua 10:14 ); (3) Gideon’s colloquy ( Judges 6:11-24 ); (4) Israelites’ frequent cry for help ( Judges 3:9 ; Judges 3:15 ; Judges 6:6 etc.).

(iv.) Kingdom Period. (1) Samuel, like Moses, an intercessor ( 1 Samuel 7:5-6 ; 1Sa 7:9 ; 1 Samuel 8:6 ; 1 Samuel 8:10 ; 1Sa 8:21 ; 1 Samuel 12:23 ; 1 Samuel 15:11 ): colloquy ( 1 Samuel 16:1-3 ; cf. 1 Samuel 3:10-11 ); (2) David : apart from the Psalms, with which his connexion is dubious, the following prayers may be noted, especially the last: for guidance ( 1 Samuel 23:2 ; 1 Samuel 30:8 [consulting ephod]), on behalf of child ( 2 Samuel 12:18 ), prayer of asseveration ( 1 Samuel 24:12-15 ; 1 Samuel 25:22 [a threat]), confession ( 2 Samuel 24:17 ), adoration, etc. ( 2 Samuel 7:18-29 ); (3) Solomon’s prayer for wisdom ( 1 Kings 3:6 ff.; note the elaborate intercession attributed to him at dedication of Temple, 1 Kings 8:22-53 , where (ct. [Note: t. contrast.] 1 Kings 8:63 ) sacrifice is not mentioned! The Temple is a house of prayer); (4) Elijah’s intercession ( 1 Kings 18:36-37 ), colloquy ( 1 Kings 19:9-11 ), prayer before miracle ( 1 Kings 17:20-21 ), so also Elisha ( 2 Kings 4:33 ; 2 Kings 6:17 ); (5) Hezekiah prays in national crisis ( 2 Kings 19:15 ) and in illness ( 2 Kings 20:3 ); note his assertion of righteousness. For this period see also § v.

(v.) The Prophets. Intercession in attitude, action, word, characterizes the prophets (much more than the priests, but cf. Joel 2:17 ), whether the earlier prophets, (§ iv. above) or those whose writings are extant. The reason lay in the prophet’s Divine call, his vision of the Divine will (so a ‘seer’), and his forthtelling of the Divine message. Hence comes prayerful expectancy ( e.g. Jeremiah 42:4 ), in the spirit of Habakkuk 2:1 ; and intercession to avert disaster ( e.g. Amos 7:2-3 ; Amos 7:5-6 , Isaiah 63:9-17 , and vividly Jeremiah 14:15 [where observe the colloquy of persistent intercession not withstanding Divine discouragement]), combined with prayer in view of personal difficulty ( e.g. Jeremiah 20:7-13 ).

(vi.) Exile and Return. In this period prayer looms large, owing to the cessation of sacrificial worship and the realization of chastisement. Accordingly confession and a humble sense of dependence are prominent. The following passages should be studied: Isaiah 63:7 to Isaiah 64:12 , Ezra 9:5-15 , Nehemiah 1:4-11 ; Nehemiah 9:5-38 (cf. retrospective Psalms, e.g. 106), Daniel 9:4-19 . Further, note the personal prayer-habit of Jewish leaders ( Daniel 6:1-28 , Ezra 8:21-23 ). Nehemiah’s prayer is often ejaculatory ( Nehemiah 2:4 ; Nehemiah 4:4 ), and sometimes betrays self-complacency ( Nehemiah 5:13 ; Nehemiah 13:14 ; Nehemiah 13:22 ).

(vii.) Psalms, Proverbs, Job. The Book of ‘Praises’ might be appropriately called also the Book of ‘Prayers.’ (Five only are so described in title: Psalms 17:1-15 ; Psalms 86:1-17 ; Psalms 90:1-17 ; Psalms 102:1-28 ; Psalms 142:1-7 , but cf. Psalms 72:20 , Habakkuk 3:1 .) (1) Throughout the Psalms, prayer whether of the poet as an individual or as representing the nation is specially an outpouring artless and impulsive of varied experiences, needs, desires. Hence typical psalms exhibit transitions of thought and alternation of mood ( e.g. Psalms 6:7-10 ; Psalms 42:1-11 ; Psalms 69:20 ; Psalms 69:27 ; Psalms 69:30 ; Psalms 77:9-11 ; Psalms 109:23-30 ). (2) The blessing sought is oftener material or external, like rescue from trouble or chastisement. Not seldom, however, there is a more spiritual aim: in Psalms 51:1-19 pardon is sought for its own sake, not to avert punishment, and Psalms 119:1-176 is notable for repeated requests for inward enlightenment and quickening. The trend of the whole collection is indicated by its ready and natural adaptation to NT ideals of prayer. In estimating psalms which express vindictive and imprecatory sentiments, we should note that they breathe abhorrence of evil, and are not the utterance of private malice. Even on the lowest view they would illustrate the human element in the Scriptures, and the progressive nature of revelation, throwing into vivid relief the Gospel temper and teaching. The propriety of their regular use in public worship need not be discussed here.

Proverbs . Note the suggestive allusion to the character of a suppliant ( Proverbs 15:6 ; Proverbs 15:29 ; Proverbs 28:9 ; cf. Psalms 145:18-19 , Jdt 8:31 , Sir 35:16 , James 5:10 ), and Agur’s prayer ( Proverbs 30:7-9 ).

Job . In this dramatic poem Job’s objections to his friends’ criticisms often take the form of daring expostulation directly addressed to God ( e.g. especially ch. 10). As a ‘cry in the dark’ the book re-echoes prayers like Psalms 88:1-18 ; but the conflict of doubt culminates in the colloquy between God and Job, in which the latter expresses the reverent submission of faith ( Job 42:1-6 ).

4. Prayer in the Apocrypha . The Apocr. [Note: Apocrypha, Apocryphal.] books of fiction, fable, history, with apocalyptic and sapiential writings are of very unequal value, but contain many prayers. The ideas are on the whole admirable, sometimes reaching a distinctively NT level; the thought in 2Ma 12:44 as to prayer in relation to the dead is noteworthy (cf. below, 2 Es. and Bar.). As the books are little read, it may be well to take them in order, giving fairly full reference to relevant passages.

1 Esdras . Zerubbabel’s thanksgiving (4:68 69); prayer for journey, with confession (8:78 90).

2 Esdras . Confession and historical retrospect (3:4 36), colloquy with Uriel (4 14, where note the allusion to various OT intercessors, all useless at judgment-day, 7:102, 112 [not in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ]).

Tobit . Prevailing prayer of Tobit and Sarah ( Tob 3:1-15 ); Tobias urged to pray ( Tob 4:19 ) prays in nuptial room ( Tob 8:4-8 ); thanksgiving of Raguel ( Tob 8:15-17 ), Tobit ( Tob 11:14-15 ; Tob 11:17 ; Tob 11:13 ).

Judith . Except where general supplication is made ( Jdt 4:9 to Jdt 13:16 ; Jdt 6:18-19 ; Jdt 7:29 ), or where Judith’s intercession is sought ( Jdt 8:31 ), prayer in this romance is of a very unworthy kind: prayer for the success of a trick (ch. 9); prayer and the plans of Holofernes ( Jdt 11:17-18 ); prayer before slaying him ( Jdt 13:4-5 ).

Ad. Esther . Prayers of Mordecai (13:8 18) and Esther (14:3 19) in national peril.

Wisdom . Chs. 9 19 are in prayer-form. Note the picturesque illustration of manna and the morning prayer ( Wis 16:27-28 ).

Sirach . In this book prayer reaches heights: value of prayer ( Sir 21:5 ), true prayer heard of God ( Sir 35:13-17 ), prayer in sickness ( Sir 38:8 ; Sir 38:14 , cf. James 5:14-16 ), for deliverance from sin ( Sir 23:1-5 ), prayer and alms ( Sir 7:10 ), ‘battology’ ( Sir 7:14 , cf. Matthew 6:7 ), prayer and revenge ( Sir 28:1-4 , cf. Matthew 6:14 ; Matthew 18:21-22 ), national prayer against foe ( Sir 36:1-17 ), thanksgiving, led by Simon ( Sir 50:21-24 ), author’s closing prayer ( Sir 51:1-12 ).

Baruch . Jews of Babylon ask those of Jerusalem to pray for welfare of Nebuchadnezzar (1:11; cf. Ezra 6:10 , Jeremiah 29:7 , 1 Timothy 2:2 ); prayer and confession of captive Israelites (1:15 3:8, where note prayer by the dead, 3:4, but see RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ).

Song of the Three . Prayer and confession of Azarias before the Benedicite (vv. 1 22; cf. Ezra 9:1-15 , Daniel 9:1-27 ).

Susanna . Her prevailing prayer (vv. 42 44).

Bel . Brief prayer by Habakkuk (v. 35), Daniel (v. 38), king of Babylon (v. 41).

Prayer of Manasses . For pardon.

Maccabees . The two books are quite distinct, 1 Mac. being much the more reliable as history. Prayer is very prominent throughout the whole Maccabæan struggle, before, during, and after battles ( 1Ma 3:46-53 ; 1Ma 4:10 ; 1Ma 4:24 ; 1Ma 4:30-33 ; 1Ma 4:40 ; 1Ma 4:55 ; 1Ma 7:33-38 ; 1Ma 7:41-42 ; 1Ma 9:46 ; 1Ma 11:71 , 2Ma 1:24-29 ; 2Ma 3:22 ; 2Ma 10:13 ; 2Ma 10:25 ; 2Ma 10:33 ; 2Ma 11:6 ; 2Ma 12:15 ; 2Ma 12:28 ; 2Ma 12:42 ; 2Ma 13:10-12 ; 2Ma 13:14 ; 2Ma 14:16 ; 2Ma 14:34-36 ; 2Ma 15:22-24 ; 2Ma 15:28 ; 2Ma 15:27 ). Note specially in 2 Mac. the allusion to the efficacy of prayer, etc., of the living for the dead ( 1Ma 12:44-45 . cf. baptism for dead, 1 Corinthians 15:29 , and [?] 2 Timothy 1:18 ), and prayer of the dead for the living ( 1Ma 15:12-14 ; cf. angelic intercession, Zechariah 1:12 ).

5. Prayer in the NT

I. Example and teaching of Jesus Christ. The special character of the Fourth Gospel should be remembered. Of the Synoptics, Lk. is specially instructive as to prayer (cf. Acts also). For Lord’s Prayer, see separate article.

(i.) Christ’s example

( a ) Prays at great moments in His life : baptism ( Luke 3:21 ), election of Apostles ( Luke 6:12-13 ), miracles ( Luke 9:16 ; cf. John 6:23 , Mark 7:34 [implied] Mark 9:29 , John 9:30-33 [implied] John 11:41-42 ), transfiguration ( Luke 9:29 ); Gethsemane ( Luke 22:39-46 ), crucifixion ( Matthew 27:46 , Luke 23:46 ); ( b ) intercedes for disciples ( John 17:1-26 ), Peter ( Luke 22:32 ), soldiers ( Luke 23:34 ); for His intercession in glory, see below, § II. (ii.) (1).

(ii.) Christ’s teaching. The range of prayer is chiefly (ct. [Note: t. contrast.] OT) for spiritual blessing (cf. Lord’s Prayer, and esp. Matthew 6:33 ), but not exclusively so (‘daily bread’ in Lord’s Prayer and Matthew 24:20 ). The conditions and requisites of prayer are numerous. ( a ) Earnestness [cf. urgent supplication in OT, esp. Psalms] ( Luke 11:5-13 , where note juxtaposition with Lord’s Prayer, Luke 18:1-8 ); and His attitude to the Syrophœnician seems to teach urgency of petition ( Mark 7:27 ). ( b ) Humility ( Luke 18:9-14 ; the juxtaposition with preceding parable is suggestive, and ct. [Note: t. contrast.] OT assertion of righteousness; e.g. in Dt. and Neh. [see above, 3 (vi.)], Luke 17:10 ); ambition rebuked ( Matthew 20:20-23 ). ( c ) A forgiving spirit : as in Sir. (see above, § 4 ). ( d ) Privacy recommended; see above, § 2 (i.) end, and cf. Christ’s own example of solitary prayer ( Luke 6:12 ). ( e ) Without ‘battology’ ; see above, § 2 (iii.) (2), where the reff. show that the repetition discouraged is that of mere mechanical prayer (cf. heathen incantations) or of pretence ( Mark 12:40 ). (f) With faith . Mark 11:23 contains just such hyperbole as would appeal to an Eastern mind and enforce the value of prayer; while the seeming paradox of v. 24 must be taken along with this and understood in the light of Christ’s general teaching. The need of faith is further illustrated by Christ’s attitude to those seeking aid ( e.g. Matthew 8:13 ; Matthew 9:28 , Mark 5:35 ; Mark 9:23 , Luke 8:48 ). ( g ) Agreement when two or three join in prayer ( Matthew 18:19-20 ). ( h ) In His name ( John 14:13 ; John 15:16 ; John 16:23-25 ). This specially Johannine feature suggests frame of mind rather than form of speech (cf. Matthew 18:5 ; Matthew 18:20 ; Matthew 10:22 etc.; on the other hand, cf. Acts 3:6 ; Acts 3:10 ). For the Christology it supports, see below, § II. (ii.) 1.

II. Customs and ideas in Apostolic times. Evidence is afforded by Acts (where the prominence given to prayer is natural if Lk. wrote it, see above, § I.), and by Epp., whose writers had inherited the best traditions of Jewish piety and had also assimilated their Master’s teaching (which, however, they may not in every point have grasped fully). A glimpse of prayer-triumphs would be afforded by such passages as Acts 3:10 ; Acts 4:31 ; Acts 9:40 ; Acts 10:4 ; Acts 12:5 ; Acts 12:12 ; Acts 16:25 ; Acts 28:8 . One or two detailed points have already come up for notice (see above § 2 (i. ii. iii. 1. 4), 5 (I. ii. ( h )), but it may be well now to collect, from Acts to the Apocalypse, some passages showing the practice and teaching as to prayer in the Apostolic Church.

(i.) Prayer is found in connexion with: (1) Laying on of hands : ( a ) in healing ( Acts 28:8 ; cf. Acts 9:17 , (see below (3)); ( b ) after baptism ( Acts 8:14-17 ; cf. Acts 19:6 ); ( c ) on appointment to office ( Acts 6:6 ; Acts 13:3 ), with which also prayerful lot-casting is associated ( Acts 1:24 ; Acts 1:26 , cf. Proverbs 16:33 ). (2) Public worship ( 1 Timothy 2:1-15 ). ( a ) Both sexes participate (cf. 1 Timothy 5:6 , 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 ); ( b ) prayer and gift of tongues ( 1 Corinthians 14:14 ; 1 Corinthians 14:16 , where it is suggested that the head as well as the heart is concerned with prayer); ( c ) ‘state-prayers’ in the Apostolic Church ( 1 Timothy 2:1 f.; cf. § 4 Baruch ’). (3) Sickness ( James 5:13-16 , where notice conjunction of prayer and outward means [for unction cf. Mark 6:13 ] with confession; physical and spiritual healing are associated, and both with prayer; see above, § 4 Sirach ’).

(ii.) (1) A distinctive Idea in NT prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit . He aids us in prayer ( Romans 8:14-16 , Ephesians 6:18 , Judges 1:20 ), interceding for us ( Romans 8:26 ). Christ also intercedes ( Romans 8:34 , Hebrews 7:25 ; cf. § 5 I. (1.) ( b )). Ct. [Note: t. contrast.] presentation of prayer to God in Revelation 5:8 ; Revelation 8:4 . By Christ we enjoy free access to God ( Galatians 4:4-7 , Ephesians 2:18 ; Ephesians 3:12 , Hebrews 4:15-16 ; Hebrews 10:19-22 ; see above, § 5 I. (II.) ( h )); prayer offered to Christ direct ( Acts 7:59-60 ; Acts 9:14 (?), 1 Corinthians 1:2 (?)). (2) Prayer needs faith ( James 1:6-8 , 1 Timothy 2:8 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] , Hebrews 10:22 ), must have right alms ( James 4:3 ), and be backed by conduct ( 1 John 3:22 , cf. above, § 3 (vii.) ‘ Proverbs ’). Such prayer succeeds ( James 5:16-18 , 1 John 3:22 ; 1 John 5:14-15 ). Prayer for temporal gifts is not very conspicuous in NT, but see Rom 1:10 , 2 Corinthians 12:8 , Philippians 4:6 . (3) Exhortations to prayer ( Romans 12:12 , Col 4:2 , 1 Thessalonians 5:16 , 1 Peter 4:7 , Judges 1:20 ). (4) Reminiscences of OT occur in prayer as colloquy ( Acts 9:13-16 ; Acts 22:17-21 ; cf. § 3 ), as struggle ( Romans 15:30 , Colossians 2:1 ; Colossians 4:12 ; cf. Genesis 32:24 ), as cry for vengeance ( Revelation 6:9-10 , ct. [Note: t. contrast.] 1 Timothy 2:8 ). (5) Intercession , which in OT is specially characteristic of the prophetic office, is here a general duty, and is very prominent: Apostles for converts ( Romans 10:1 ; Rom 15:5 , 2 Corinthians 13:7 , Ephesians 1:15 ; Ephesians 3:14 , Philippians 1:4 ; Philippians 1:9 , Colossians 1:9 ; Col 2:1 , 1 Thessalonians 1:2 , 2 Thessalonians 1:11 , Philippians 1:4 , 3 John 1:2 ); converts for Apostles ( Acts 12:5 , Rom 15:30 , 2 Corinthians 1:11 ; 2 Corinthians 9:14 , Colossians 4:3 , 2 Thessalonians 3:1 , Philippians 1:22 ); for one another ( James 5:15 , 1 John 5:16 [within limit]). (6) Thanksgiving abounds ( Romans 1:3 , 1 Corinthians 1:4 , 2 Corinthians 2:14 ; 2 Corinthians 8:15 , Philippians 1:3 , Col 1:3 , 1 Thessalonians 1:2 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:13 , 2Th 1:3 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:13 , 1 Timothy 1:12 , 2 Timothy 1:3 ). (7) Note also the salutation and blessing at the beginning and close of Epistles. The NT closes with a threefold prayer for Christ’s coming ( Revelation 22:17 ; Revelation 22:20 ).

H. F. B. Compston.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Prayer'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/p/prayer.html. 1909.

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