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Tuesday
Nov262013

Theological Term of the Week

prayer
“An offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins,and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies”:1 personal communication with God;2 speaking with God.

  • From scripture:
    First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior … .  (1 Timothy 2:1-3 ESV)
  • From the Heidelberg Catechism:
    Question 116: Why is prayer necessary for Christians? 
    Answer: Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness which God requires of us. Moreover, God will give His grace and the Holy Spirit only to those who constantly and with heartfelt longing ask Him for these gifts and thank Him for them.
    Question 117: What belongs to a prayer which pleases God and is heard by Him?
    Answer: First, we must from the heart call upon the one true God only, who has revealed Himself in His Word, for all that He has commanded us to pray.[1] Second, we must thoroughly know our need and misery, so that we may humble ourselves before God.[2] Third, we must rest on this firm foundation that, although we do not deserve it, God will certainly hear our prayer for the sake of Christ our Lord, as He has promised us in His Word.
    [T]he foundation of prayer is “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” Prayer is, of course, more than mere thinking, but thinking God’s thoughts as he has revealed them is the basis for addressing God in prayer. Having revealed his purpose God allows us to be involved in the carrying out of his will as his dear children. He gives us the privilege of identifying with his will by asking him to do it. This is part of the process he has chosen to use in order to carry out his plan for the whole universe. If we are to ask for anything “according to his will” (1 John 5:14), then we must refer to his will as revealed in his word. Faith in prayer is not what we dream up but is engendered by hearing the word of Christ (Rom 10:17). 
    This principle of God’s word prior to our prayer is amply illustrated in some biblical passages. David’s prayer in 2 Sam 7:18-29 is essentially to ask God to do the very things he has just promised to do (vv. 9-16). Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple centers on the request that God would do what he had promised to do for David (1 Kgs 8:22-26). Jeremiah’s letter to the Jewish exiles in Babylon (Jer 29:1-17) explains the logic of prayer in vv. 10-14. First, God tells them what he will do; then they will pray that he will do it; the outcome is that God will do it. Ezekiel is similarly specific in saying that God will let the exiles pray for what he reveals he will do (Ezek 36:37). 

Learn more:

  1. Easton Bible Dictionary: Prayer
  2. R. C. Sproul: The Place of Prayer
  3. J. C. Ryle: Do You Pray?
  4. Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers
  5. John Calvin: On Prayer
  6. S. Lewis Johnson: The Theology of Prayer:  What is Prayer - The Nature, Object and Grounds of Prayer (audio)

Related terms:

Filed under Christian Life

1 From Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 98.

2 From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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