Christian Cyclopedia

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1. In the narrow sense, a request, or petition, for benefits or mercies; in the wide sense, any communion of a soul with God. May be divided into adoration, expressing a sense of God's goodness and greatness; confession, acknowledging unworthiness; supplication, asking pardon, grace, or any other blessing; intercession (praying for others); thanksgiving. Private prayer includes spontaneous ejaculations, wishes, or appeals and deliberate prayer (cf. Mt 6:6). Family prayer (as at mealtime and in family worship [“family altar”]) and social prayer in pub. worship are forms of corporate prayer.

2. Prayer is commanded by God (1 Ch 16:11; Ps 50:15; Mt 7:7; Ph 4:6), has His promises (Ps 91:15–16; Jn 16:23; Jn 5:16b), and hence is a vital part of Christian life. To be valid, prayer must be made to the true God (1 Sm 7:3; Is 42:8); Ap XXI 8–10 grants that saints and angels pray for us but adds: “it does not follow that they should be invoked”; cf. AC XXI 2, which quotes 1 Ti 2:5. It must proceed from faith (Mt 21:22; Ja 1:6–7), which is created by the Holy Spirit (1 Co 12:3), who assists and guides in prayer (Ro 8:26); faith excludes willful sin, which invalidates prayer (Ps 66:18; Pr 28:9; Is 1:15; 59:2; Jn 9:31). It must be conditioned by the will of God (1 Jn 5:14; cf. Ro 8:28) and be as broad as living mankind (1 Ti 2:1; Heb 9:27).

3. Prayer must be more than an emergency measure in time of trouble; it must constantly reach out for the more abundant life promised by God (Ro 12:12; Ph 4:6–7; 1 Th 5:17). Prayer must be an integral part of the home that is to function acc. to God's plan (Jos 24:15) and is essential to the ch. in its life and functions (Mt 18:19–20; Lk 11:13). A cong. prays the Lord to give its pastor “utterance” (Eph 6:19) and open doors to him (Cl 4:3). The pastor prays that God may strengthen his cong. “with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph 3:16). Pastor and people present special needs of individual mems. and families to God.

4. Kinds and forms of prayer are indicated, e.g., in the OT by such words as tephillah (in heading of Ps 17, 86, 90, 102, 142 and in Hab 3:1; prayer, intercession, supplication), sheelah (e.g., 1 Sm 2:20; Est 5:6, 7; prayer in gen., request, petition), todah (e.g., Ps 26:7; 42:5; Is 51:3; thanksgiving, praise). For kinds and forms of prayer mentioned in the NT cf., e.g., 1 Ti 2:1.

5. Jesus was in constant prayer communication with His heavenly Father (e.g., Mt 14:19; 26:39, 42, 44; Mk 1:35; 6:46; Lk 23:46; Jn 17; cf. Mt 6:9–13).

Incentives to prayer: God's command and promise and our own and our neighbor's need (Ps 122:6; Jer 29:7; Mt 5:44; 6:6; 9:38; 24:20; 26:41; Lk 6:28; 18:1–7; Ro 8:26; 1 Th 5:17, 25; 1 Ti 2:1, 8; Ja 5:13).

6. Other examples include Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Ezra, Daniel, Zacharias, Paul, John, Chrysostom, Augustine of Hippo, M. Luther, J. F. Starck, C. F. W. Walther.

See also Grace, Means of, I, 1; Invocation of Saints; Saints, Veneration of, 6–8; Worship.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
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Content Reproduced with Permission

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