One Of Man’s Greatest Privileges
by Noah A. Hackworth
One of the greatest privileges God has ever given to His people is prayer. It is the “connecting link” between heaven and earth. A faithful child of God, unless he is unconscious or too ill to think, will never go through a whole day without prayer whether it occurs at a set time (Acts 3:1), in public (1 Timothy 2:8) or in secret (Matthew 6:6); we must not forget to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When Paul directed the Thessalonians to pray unceasingly he used the word adialeiptos which means without interruption, unceasingly, constantly. “The word was used of that which was continually and repeatedly done; e.g., the uninterrupted payment of hard taxes; the continual service or ministry of an official; a continual uninterrupted cough” (Reinecker & Rogers).
Unfortunately prayer has become the victim of a wide range of thought. There are many who believe that (1) anybody can pray; (2) there are no restrictions on prayer; (3) God hears the prayers of sinners as well as saints; (4) there is no precise verbiage used in prayer; (5) prayers may be offered to God the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. All five of these points are either partially or totally false.
One cannot be living in deliberate rebellion against God and expect his prayers to be heard (answered); there is no biblical evidence that God ever authorized a sinner to pray; verbiage is important because God is not a fellow human being, a good buddy to whom we can speak anyway we desire. We cannot come into the presence of God as though we were coming into the presence of a casual friend. God is holy, and when we approach Him we need to “put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). The Almighty does not permit man to approach Him on his own terms (Jeremiah ).
In the New Testament a variety of words are used with reference to prayer. Proseuchomai is always used of prayer to God, and is—the most frequent word in this respect (Romans ; Ephesians ; Philippians 1:9; 1 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews ); dedomai means to ask or implore; to desire (Matthew. ; Acts ; 2 Corinthians ); erotao means to request or ask a question; eucharisteo means to give thanks (Matthew 26:27). Just as important as being familiar with the terms used with reference to prayer, is the need to know (1) what the Bible teaches about prayer; (2) that every Christian must learn what prayer is; (3) that every Christian must learn how to pray; (4) that prayer avails much in its working; (5) that prayers must be according to God’s will; (6) that prayer is related to keeping the commandments of the Lord; (7) that Christians are to pray without ceasing.
Prayers are to be addressed to God, the Father (Colossians ). Jesus demonstrated this in His prayer in John 17. Observe the following expressions: “Father, the hour is come” (v.1); “And now, Father, glorify thou me (v.5); “Holy Father, keep them in thy name...” (v.11); “That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me...” (v. 21); “O righteous Father, the world knew thee not, but I knew thee...”(v.25). Three times in Gethsemane Jesus said, “My Father” (Matthew 26:39-44); “...My Father, if it be possible...” (v.39); “...My Father, if this cannot pass away (v.42); “And he left them again, and went away, and prayed a third time, saying again the same words” (v. 44). There is no question that Jesus taught His followers to pray to the Father through Him. “If ye shall ask anything of the Father, He will give it you in my name” (John ). Coffman has said,
These words show that Jesus intended that his followers should pray, not to himself, but to the Father in Jesus’ name...ln all petitions to the Father, the name of Jesus Christ should be mentioned as the ground of the petitioner’s right to be heard...Ignoring or by-passing the name of the One Mediator between God and man is presumptuously sinful.
Since God has given us the privilege of coming with all boldness before the throne of His grace, we must take advantage of every opportunity to pray. The world has lost the right to pray, but the saints have not. What a privilege! What a blessing! Let every Christian exercise this right.