Friday, May 21, 2010


By Charles Woodruff

(These are more notes from our series of Bible studies on prayer)


The Bible has many encouragements, and even some commands to pray. God must consider prayer important, for according to Herbert Lockyer in All the Prayers of the Bible, there are 650 definite prayers, and 450 recorded answers. We have likely all had answered prayers as Christians, prompting some to say “Why do we need encouragements to pray?” Probably we wouldn’t if we prayed more earnestly, and more regularly. We are naturally inclined to be on the lazy side regarding prayer, hence we get into trouble easily.


We might take a moment to examine some of the purposes of prayer, for there are more than one to be sure. Perhaps number one is communion with God, for prayer is conversation with the Almighty. When people get into deep trouble, even as unbelievers, they pray or get someone else to pray for them. The story is often told of several people gathered at the hospital where a loved one is in serious condition. The doctors have done about all they can do. One of the relatives asks “What can we do now?” The answer: “We can pray”. Looking shocked, the relative says “Oh no! Is it that serious?” Well, for the true Christian it is always that serious. Prayer should be primary and urgent in our lives. Sadly, it often isn’t; so we need encouragement.

Not only communion, or fellowship with God, but repentance toward God. This is really the beginning of the Christian life, and it is never something we can forego.

Help in our daily walk is another purpose of prayer. In the Lord’s Prayer (so-called), Jesus says

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” Matthew 6:13). We cannot fight the enemies of the world, the flesh, and the devil by ourselves. God protects us from our enemies. We need to praise Him for that daily!

Intercession is another purpose of prayer. We must pray for others, and their needs. Salvation, physical healing, marriage problems, family problems, etc…

Our daily needs, covered under our Lord’s words, our daily bread. Sustenance such as food, shelter and clothing.

Urgent needs. Someone is in desperate shape, for physical healing, finances, salvation, housing, etc… We need to be praying for them.

Last, but not least, thanksgiving. We must be grateful for that which God has already provided. Even when a prayer is not answered just exactly like we think it should be, we must remember that God is sovereign, and that He works according to His own purpose. Remember Romans 8:28

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We need to be asking according to His will.


1) ALWAYS PRAY. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1- 8). This is an importunate prayer; a stubborn prayer; a persistent prayer; an urgent prayer.

2) THIS MANNER 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. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:9-15). Often called The Lord’s Prayer, this really The Model Prayer. It has the main features of prayer needed. It is a concise, but perfect prayer.

It is worth noting that just before this prayer, our Lord says “And When thou prayest” (Matthew 6:5; “But thou, when thou prayest” (Matthew 6:6);“But when ye pray” (Matthew 6:7); then He says “After this manner therefore pray ye” (Matthew 6:9a). That is, He expects His sheep, His People to pray. A non-praying Christian is a oxymoron; a misnomer; an impossibility. You may not pray as you ought, but you will pray if you know Christ.

3) LORD TEACH US TO PRAY “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil" (Luke 11:1-4). This is a considerably shorter version of the prayer found in The Sermon on the Mount, yet here we see clearly it is the same model prayer. Our emphasis here is that Christ is prayer teacher. We may say that, at least part of the time, the Holy Spirit is the prayer sayer. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered"(Romans 8:26).

4)WATCH AND PRAY “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me" (Matthew 26:36-46).

How sleepy we sometimes get as we attempt to watch in prayer. For the disciples, this was an urgent time. They just didn’t comprehend what Jesus would go through, or even what they would go through. Hard as it may be for the flesh, we must learn to bear with Him in prayer. Turn off the TV and video games, put down the novel and spend more time with the Lord.

5)PRAY WITHOUT CEASING “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

Rejoice evermore.

Pray without ceasing.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Quench not the Spirit.

Despise not prophesyings.

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

Brethren, pray for us.

Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.

I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:15-28).

These short admonitions from Paul are very vital. Some think he was speaking of praying for a specific thing, but not necessarily, in light of the other verses regarding prayer. It is important we endeavor to be in an attitude of prayer all the time, even when we cannot physically pray.

6) NATIONAL DELIVERANCE “And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:12-15). I hear all the time that we cannot apply these instructions to the church because it was specifically for Israel after Solomon completed the temple. Some would have us so shut up to eras and dispensations, that nothing would apply to us but the Gospels, and not all of them. But, application can often be made of principles God has set forth in His word,in both testaments.

First, He is saying My people. Who are His New Testament people? Of course it is His church.

Second. Which are called by My name. In the New Testament that is a Christian (called by His name). Originally it was possibly a name of shame to the world. But a true follower of Christ is an honorable person, redeemed by His grace, washed in Christ‘s blood..

Third. Humble themselves and pray. Recognizing our smallness; our corruption; our weakness in His sight, so that we may bow down before Him, worship, love and adore Him as the song His Name is Wonderful says. Pray! Again, so important if you desire God‘s help.

Fourth. Seek My face. Seeking His smile, His approval. His grace. His love. His care.

Fifth. Turn from their wicked ways. The only hope for a people, an individual, a nation, a church is to put away wickedness. As long as we continue to play games with God, we will get nowhere.

Sixth. Then will I hear from heaven. God has no trouble hearing. As if He was in the same room with us. He is!

Seventh. Forgive their sin. How wonderful! No one can forgive sin but God. That is why they tried to kill Jesus when He said “Thy sins be forgiven thee” They knew what He was claiming.

Eighth. Heal their land. If we follow this pattern, couldn’t God heal our land? Can we not pray for this very thing? Is He not able to do these things? Nothing is impossible with God!

7) ASK And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Luke 11:9-10). This is found in one of the sections on importunate prayer. I understand that the Greek means “Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.” This is the persistent, importunate, prayer. We often give up, but we must keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. He compares His concern for His children to show that He cares about them in the following verses. “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? " (Luke 11:11-13).


Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Charles Woodruff

Tomorrow (May 6th),is designated The National Day of Prayer. It was started by George Washington, our first President, and continued periodically by other Presidents. Then it was declared to be an annual event by President Truman in 1952. President Ronald Reagan set it up officially as the first Thursday in May in 1988. Our church began an intensive study on prayer in January which involved more corporate prayer than usual. The messages are designed to be concise introductions (20-30 minutes), to the actual prayer time. It has been very helpful. All of them were not recorded, but we have recently started recording them, and trying to recover some of them by remakes, and placing them on our Sermon Audio site.
We believe the value of such messages speak for themselves.


Prayer is basically conversation with God. There is quiet prayer, fervent prayer, effective prayer, urgent prayer and desperate prayer. Leonard Ravenhill once said “God answers desperate prayer”. Prayer is the hardest work for a Christian. It is elusive. We can easily attend church, read the Bible, study, witness, preach and teach and do all our duties ( all in the flesh unless we pray for the Spirit‘s help). We can do all the other things relatively easy, but struggle to pray. Why is this when prayer is where our strength is energized? Leonard Ravenhill once said: “Satan laughs at our singing, witnessing, preaching and all else, but trembles when we pray”.

We cannot pray all the time, as other duties press us. We are commanded to “Pray without ceasing”. (1 Thessalonians 5:17). How can we accomplish this? It means to be in an attitude of prayer at all times, as well as to pray often. It seems to me that requires walking in the Spirit Remember this verse connects with six other short admonitions (God’s perfect number of seven; could it be that all these go together, equally important?)

The first prayer in the Old Testament
The first conversation with God recorded was in Genesis 3:8-19. Remember, prayer is conversation with God, but we don’t usually think of it as this one. The first words were addressed from God to Adam in verse nine: “Where art thou?” Man by nature, since the fall, does not seek God, God seeks man.

The first prayer in the New Testament
The Magnificat (if you consider it a prayer. Certainly the virgin Mary was praising the Lord). And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. (Luke 1:46-55).

The First Prayer Chronologically
In Luke it is mentioned that people were praying, so maybe this was the first mention. “And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense” (Luke 1:10). Praying= Greek; Strong's G4336 - proseuchomai (pros-yĆ¼'-kho-mi) used 90 times in 82 verses (online at Blue Letter Bible)

The longest prayer in the Bible
Nehemiah 9:5-38 (We won’t print it because of its length. It was prayed by a number of Levites after a rediscovery of the law of God and the awakening under Nehemiah). Daniel also had a long prayer recorded.

The shortest prayer in the Bible
It is very short, but to tell the story requires a longer context.
“And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. <this is the shortest prayer>
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:25-32 ;esp. v. 30)

Jesus’ Prayers
The True “Lord’s Prayer”; the high priestly prayer in John 17. Let’s look a bit at this one. Especially verses 15-17.
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Oh doesn’t it thrill you that Jesus Christ prays for you; and for me! Hallelujah!

Paul’s Prayers
He had many, but I remember this statement in Philippians so well: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:3-6).

John’s Prayers and Teaching
Here John tells us some words about praying; “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (1 John 3:22,23).

Peter’s Prayers
Acts 9:40 With Tabitha (Dorcas); “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.”

Hannah’s Prayer
“And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. (1 Samuel 1:9; see verse 9 through verse 19)

Jacob’s Prayer
In the figurative language, we can see that Jacob wrestled with God and was afterwards called Israel. “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” (Genesis 32:24; See Genesis 32:22-30)

The Prayer of Jabez
“And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested” (1 Chronicles 4:10) .


Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this – always obey such an impulse. --Martyn Lloyd-Jones

No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it. ~Guy H. King

There is a general kind of praying which fails for lack of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anywhere. Possibly somebody would be killed, but the majority of the enemy would be missed. --Charles Haddon Spurgeon

It is good for us to keep some account of our prayers, that we may not unsay them in our practice. ~Matthew Henry

God can pick sense out of a confused prayer. ~Richard Sibbes

Prayers not felt by us are seldom heard by God. ~Philip Henry

Some people pray just to pray and some people pray to know God. --Andrew Murray

Prayer is the Christian’s life. Though every other ordinance be attended to, yet if this one be neglected, all is vain. It is as impossible for the soul to be spiritually alive and active without a punctual course of fervent and believing prayer, as for the body to be alive and active without breath. Prayer has more influence on the sanctification of the soul than all other ordinances.
(From Enoch Walked With God, a sermon by Edward Griffin, page 6)

When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart. ~John Bunyan

Prayer requires more of the heart than of the tongue. ~Adam Clarke

Is prayer your steering wheel, or your spare tire?-- Corrie Ten Boom

“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.”
Martin Luther (also quoted by others including Arthur W. Pink)