The WHO of Prayer

The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray. (Samuel Chadwick)

It’s PRAYER-O-RAMA 2017 here on GUWG. Yesterday, we discussed the WHY of prayer. Today, we’ll focus on the WHO.

1. WHO Prays?

In the average week:

  • 84% of all adults pray
  • 89% of women pray
  • 79% of men pray
  • 65% age 21 and under pray

Who prays every day? Here are some sad stats (at least for Christians):

  • 89% of Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • 82% of Mormons
  • No Christian denomination is above 80%
  • only 53% of mainstream Protestants

89% of adults believe “there is a God who watches over you and answers prayers” and 82% believe prayer can change things. If that’s true, I humbly suggest we should all be doing a whooooole lot more praying.

2. TO WHOM Should We Pray?

As the question raised yesterday asked: Should we pray to God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, all of them at once, Jesus’ mom, dead relatives or someone else?

The short answer: We should only pray to God. (If you need help understanding the whole God/Trinity thing, click here.) That’s what prayer is in its essence: communication with God.

The long answer …

The basic model in the New Testament is to pray:

  • to the Father
  • thru the Son
  • with the help of the Spirit

Let’s go a little deeper. Why “to the Father”?

  • Jesus instructed us to start our prayers like this: “Our Father …” (Matthew 6:9).
  • As Jesus’ brother James said: “Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father.” (James 1:16-18)
  • The Father is the source of creation and salvation. (Revelation 4:8-11)
  • We should praise the Father for who He is, thank Him for what He’s done and ask Him for what we need. (Psalms 1-150)

Why “thru the Son”?

Jesus is our “merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17) who enables us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16). He’s our revealer, reconciler and redeemer (Revelation 5:11-14). The Bible depicts him as sitting at the Father’s right hand, interceding for us as we speak (Mark 16:19, Acts 2:33, Romans 8:34).

Another way the Bible communicates this concept is to “pray in Jesus’ name” (John 14:13-14). We say it all the time but what exactly does that mean?

Adding “in Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer isn’t a magic formula or mechanical exercise to make sure our prayers are answered the way we want ’em. Ponder this:

To pray in the name of Jesus means to pray in the awareness that our prayers have no worthiness or efficacy apart from his atoning sacrifice and redemptive mediation. It means to appeal to the blood of Christ as the source of power for the life of prayer. It means to acknowledge our complete helplessness apart from his mediation and intercession. To pray in his name means that we recognize that our prayers cannot penetrate the tribunal of God unless they are presented to the Father by the Son, our one Savior and Redeemer.

(Donald Bloesch)

OK, so what about “with the help of the Spirit”?

The Bible describes the Holy Spirit as our prayer “counselor” or “helper” available 24/7/365.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)

As one theologian aptly put it: “Effective prayer is a quartet: the Father, the Son, the Spirit and the Christian.” (John Blanchard)

3. FOR WHOM Should We Pray?

That answer’s easy: EVERYONE:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:1-5)

So, that’s the WHO of prayer. Tune in tomorrow for the WHAT.

(Survey Sources: The Barna Group; Pew Research. Image credit: Shutterstock.com.)

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