Biblical prayer

Published 2:25 pm Saturday, January 26, 2019

by William Sloan

How does the triune God teach the faithful to pray? Prayer to the sovereign God is mentioned 322 times in holy Scripture. The authors of the Bible pray to confess their sins, seek wisdom and beseech the Father, Son and holy Spirit for accommodation. When an individual prays to the Living God His answer and intercession will affirm biblical wisdom. The Father, Son and Spirit are without sin and incapable of folly, thus, the Living God will not contradict the truths He has breathed out in the holy Bible; He will affirm and emphasize them. Orthodox Christians must model their prayers after those of Christ and the authors of holy Scripture.

As biblical Christians, we must confess our sins and persevere in the infused grace Christ grants us through prayer. Daily and discretionary prayer to the living God is a historic activity that the biblical exemplars (i.e., David, Samuel, Job, Ezra, Isaiah, Abraham, Paul, Titus and Timothy) and Christ our Redeemer considered a requirement.

For example, Isaiah prays to the Father on behalf of the King Hezekiah, who was in serious need of biblical wisdom (2 Kings 19:4-20.) Similarly, Solomon prays to the sovereign God for wisdom to lead and govern society in an orthodox manner (2 Chronicles 7:1-15.) Solomon also maintains that the individual endeavoring to pray must study and obey the written word (Proverbs 28:29.) Moreover, Solomon contends that orthodox or disciplined living is vital for those praying to the Father and the obedient are a “delight” to Him (Proverbs 15:8.) David also writes that biblical obedience or orthodox conduct is required for the individual seeking to pray (Psalm 141:5.) Moreover, David prays that sinfulness and vile behavior will be adjudicated and redeemed and that holiness will increase (Ibid.)

Also, Nehemiah prays to the Father for the sins of Israel, offers thanksgiving, and commits his efforts to the sovereign God (Nehemiah 1:6-20.) Similarly, Habakkuk prays to the God of Israel in eternal admiration for His work, revival of sinners and infallible authority (Habakkuk 3:1-2.) Jeremiah also prays to the Lord that his community would submit to the Sovereign God and commits to obey His instruction (Jeremiah 42:1-20.)

In sum, the Old Testament writers prayed to Living God for the forgiveness of their disobedience and that He would redeem them to diligently obey His holy law.

The New Testament is equally vehement about the requirement to pray to the triune God. For example, Paul instructs the Romans to pray asking for the Spirit’s accommodation (Romans 8:26.) Moreover, Paul writes that he prayed daily for the sanctification of the Ephesians, his congregants (Ephesians 1:16-17.) Paul also instructs the Corinthians to pray with their minds and not be distorted by sinful and disordered emotion (1 Corinthians 14:15.)

The early church dedicated itself to interiorizing the holy Scripture and prayer for the Spirit’s accommodation (Acts 2:42.) Moreover, the apostles and early church pray for the Lord’s intercession that individuals will submit to the Savior and the written word will be prioritized. The Lord Jesus requires that humanity repent of its sins through prayer, meaningfully and constructively (Matthew 6:5-7.) Holy Scripture is the infallible source, teaching humanity to pray to the Father, Son and holy Spirit.

In sum, biblical Christians, when praying through Christ, are participating in a spiritual exercise that is required for perseverance in holiness. The Father, Son and Spirit have described the eternally necessary function of prayer in the holy Bible. We must pray to the Sovereign God biblically, not subjectively. The Sovereign God promises to sanctify the individual via prayer, but does not contradict what He has articulated through holy Scripture during the exercise.

WILLIAM H. SLOAN is the pastor of Grace Memorial United Methodist Church. Contact him at or 562-5464.