This study was done out of a desire to have more prayer and more pleasing prayer to Yahweh in my own life. So it is my hope that the scriptures which convict my heart will also convict others.
When studying this subject of prayer, I was very shocked first of all to find that there is no specific command to pray in the first five books of the scriptures (commonly called the Torah). However, there are a large number of examples of prayer in the scriptures especially in the book of Psalms.
To begin with, we will examine Yahushua's example for us.
Unlike the monotone repetitions as some do of this prayer, I believe that Yahushua was sharing with us what things we should at LEAST pray for on a daily basis. Surely at least once a day for He said "Give us this day our daily bread". (Note: This not only means not only the physical, but also the spiritual food we need)
Matthew 6:9 - After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.10 - Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.11 - Give us this day our daily bread. 12 - And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.13 - 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.
Prayer is very powerful:
Examples of things that we can pray for are endless. But the following are some scriptural guidelines of how, when and where prayer can/should take place. How do we pray?
James 5:16 - Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Perhaps the number one thing Yahweh expects when we pray is humility. How can Yahweh hear the prayer of a proud man?
What other things can hinder our prayers?
Job 35:12 - There they cry, but none giveth answer, because of the pride of evil men. 13 - Surely El will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it.
Doubt can hinder our prayers:
Turning away an ear from Yahweh's word will hinder our prayers
James 1:5 - If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of YAHWEH, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 - But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 - For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from YAHWEH; 8 - he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Hebrews 11:6 - But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to YAHWEH must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Now those are pretty strong words!
Proverbs 28:9 - He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
Wrong attitude and intentions will hinder prayer:
Zechariah 7:12 - Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which YAHWEH of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from YAHWEH of hosts. 13 - Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith YAHWEH of hosts:
Improper husband-wife relationships will hinder prayer:
James 4:2 - You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 - You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend [it] on your pleasures.
Praying out of Yahweh's will hinders prayer:
1Peter 3:7 - Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the favor of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Pretentiousness and Hypocrisy hinders prayer
1John 5:14 - Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
Sleepiness hinders prayer
Matthew 6:5 - And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Or perhaps laziness.
Matthew 26:40 - And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Kepha, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 - Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
To regard sin hinders prayer:
Unforgiveness hinders prayer:
Psalms 66:18 - If I regard iniquity in my heart, YAHWEH will not hear me:
Our prayers are likened unto an incense offering to Yahweh:
Mark 11:25 - And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Revelations 5:8 - Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Psalms 141:2 - Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.Therefore our offering must be humble, sweet, pure and right. Without blemish or foolish choice of words.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 - Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of Elohim, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. 2 - Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before Elohim: for Elohim is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
As Yahushua said:
This can be seen in some Pentecostal churches where they repeat a certain phrase over and over again until they are worked into an altered state of consciousness and then open themselves up to all kinds of demonic activity.
Matthew 6:7 - But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 - Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
But does this mean then that every prayer is to be a short 20 second prayer?
I think not. Yahushua at times spent the entire night in prayer. How many of us have followed this example?
There are certainly times in our lives that we have more to pray for. It is certain that we should be careful about what we do speak to Yahweh and that our prayer is not simply repeating over and over the same words for the purpose of making it long. We must also remember that in our prayers we are actually asking Yahweh to obey us! But as we grow in Him, we will find that our will is increasingly more..HIS WILL.
Luke 6:12 - And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to YAHWEH.
What should be the position of our body when we pray? There really is no commandment on this that I'm aware of but there are many examples.
Yahushua lifted His eyes to heaven:
He knelt down:
John 17:1 - These words spake Yahushua, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
He also fell on His face..
Luke 22:41 - And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
As did Moshe/Moses for forty days and nights:
Matthew 26:39 - 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.
Deuteronomy 9:25 - Thus I fell down before YAHWEH forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because YAHWEH had said he would destroy you.
You will notice that most of these were in most perilous and sincere times. When asking for forgiveness, the humble man whose prayer was answered was standing in prayer...but wouldn't even look up.
1Chronicles 21:16 - And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of YAHWEH stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.
Also we can lift our hands:
Luke 18:13 - And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, Elohim be merciful to me a sinner.
And as we spoke of earlier:
1Timothy 2:8 - I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
2Chronicles 6:13 - For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven,
This brings us to another area of interest. The time of prayer.
Psalms 141:2 - Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
It is written that we should:
I do not believe that this is literal. However, we should always be mindful of prayer anytime, anywhere...keeping the lines of communication open between us and our Father, continuing in the Spirit.
1Thessalonians 5:17 - Pray without ceasing.
I have recently come to the conviction that we should offer prayer at the time of the evening sacrifice. It is true that our prayers are likened unto offerings.
Psalms 119:108 - Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O YAHWEH, and teach me thy judgments.
Hebrews 13:15 - Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to YAHWEH, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
Proverbs 15:8 - The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to YAHWEH: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.It is also interesting that the time of the evening sacrifice, known as the ninth hour of daylight, was a time of prayer. Consider the example of Kepha and Yahuchanan (Peter and John):
Now we know that there is no literal temple today. There wasn't any temple in the days of Daniel the prophet, yet consider his example:
Acts 3:1 - Now Kepha and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
It was Daniel's custom to pray 3 times a day
Daniel 9:21 - Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
Here is Ezra's example
Daniel 6:10 - Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his Elohim, as he did aforetime.
Notice again..the hour of prayer, the time of the evening offering.
Ezra 9:4 - Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the Elohim of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.5 - And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto YAHWEH my Elohim.
Also EliYah's (Elijah's) example:
In this next scripture, all the people were praying at the time of incense:
1Kings 18:36 - And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that EliYah the prophet came near, and said, YAHWEH Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art Elohim in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
Luke 1:10 - And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. 11 - And there appeared unto him an angel of YAHWEH standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
And it was at the ninth hour that Yahushua spoke His final words to Father Yahweh
In His offering of prayer..He was an offering for us.
Luke 23:44 - And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 - And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46 - And when Yahushua had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the Spirit.
Now we come to the example of Cornelius:
Psalms 55:16 - As for me, I will call upon Elohim; and YAHWEH shall save me. 17 - Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
Acts 10:1 - There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 - A devout man, and one that feared Elohim with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to Elohim alway. 3 - He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of YAHWEH coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.What was Cornelius doing at the ninth hour? Praying.
Later, when retelling the story..
I will stop short of saying for sure that it is a commandment for us to pray at the ninth hour. But the scriptures certainly indicate there are many examples of righteous men doing so. Again, I will mention that there is no inappropriate time to pray.
Acts 10:30 - And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
We should bless and give thanks to Yahweh for our food before we eat:
Psalms 86:3 - Be merciful unto me, O YAHWEH: for I cry unto thee daily.
And bless Yahweh after we are filled:
John 6:11 - And Yahushua took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
We can pray though..at any time.
Deuteronomy 8:10 - When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless YAHWEH thy Elohim for the good land which he hath given thee.
Psalms 119:147 - I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
Acts 16:25 - And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto YAHWEH: and the prisoners heard them.
Incidentally, rising before dawn is something that Yahushua did:
Psalms 88:13 - But unto thee have I cried, O YAHWEH; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
Praying in a solitary place was something that Yahushua suggested and practiced
Mark 1:35 - And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
Luke 5:16 - And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
Of course this does not mean that people cannot pray together. The apostles after being threatened by the Sanhedrin prayed together for boldness:
Matthew 6:6 - But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Acts 4:23 - And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. 24 - And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to YAHWEH with one accord, and said, YAHWEH, thou art Elohim, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 25 - Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 - The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against YAHWEH, and against his Messiah. 27 - For of a truth against thy holy child Yahushua, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 - For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. 29 - And now, YAHWEH, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 - By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Yahushua. 31 - And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of YAHWEH with boldness.
There is seemingly no end in sight on this subject but I hope that this has encouraged many to be more of a man or woman of prayer. In our relationship with Yahweh, I believe that prayer is as important as reading His word. Oftentimes we can have a point in our life where we are praying often but neglecting the reading of His word. Other times it might be the other way around. Perhaps it is a delicate balance that we must maintain depending upon our circumstances.
Matthew 18:20 - For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
One thing is certain, we cannot expect to have a relationship with Yahweh apart from these two things. Our prayers should be out of natural love and desire to speak with Him. For prayer is our communication to Him and His word is His communication to us. We must stay in touch with Yahweh at all times. The closer we walk with Him, the more we are like our Master Yahushua. And that, I hope is our ultimate desire
May Yahweh's word bless you as we conclude with these final scriptures:
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Psalms 34:1 - I will bless YAHWEH at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 - My soul shall make her boast in YAHWEH: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. 3 - O magnify YAHWEH with me, and let us exalt his name together. 4 - I sought YAHWEH, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. 5 - They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. 6 - This poor man cried, and YAHWEH heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 - The angel of YAHWEH encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. 8 - O taste and see that YAHWEH is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.