Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 4, 1958

Implications Of Belief In Prayer

Roger M. Hendricks, Dayton, Ohio

One of the most glorious of the manifold blessings which have been afforded Christians is the privilege of prayer. Failure to take advantage of such a wonderful blessing is, indeed, a manifestation of ingratitude.

Charles Hodge has defined prayer as "the converse of the soul with God." (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, p. 692) Prayer has also been defined as the "offering of adoration, confession, supplication, thanksgiving, etc., to God" (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 663), "a direct and personal approach to God" (Let Us Pray, p. 15), and "communion with God" (A Dictionary Of The Bible, J. D. Davis, p. 621).

The scriptures teach that God is the being to whom prayer is directed. Jesus instructed his disciples to pray "Our Father which art in heaven." (Mt. 6:9.) Persecuted children of God commenced their prayer in Acts 4 with "Lord, thou art God." (Vs. 24.) Paul, the apostle, desired that the brethren in Rome remember him in their "prayers to God." (Rom. 15:80.)

The Bible reveals that supplication or petition (Eph. 6:18), thanksgiving (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thes. 5:18), praise or adoration (Mt. 6:9), and confession (1 Tim. 1:9; 2:2; Neh. 9:32ff) all have a place in the prayers of saints.

There are certain things which are implied by belief in prayer. If one believes in prayer as the converse or communion of man with God, if he believes in the efficacy of prayer, he also, of necessity, believes certain other truths.

The Personality Of God

Belief in prayer, as defined above, implies belief in the personality of God. To some, God is not a being, a personality. "God" is merely the name which is applied to some unknown force. It is difficult to conceive of an intelligent being praying to a mere force! Those who claim that God is only a force do not believe in prayer. There are many forces in existence, yet men do not pray to these forces. One does not pray to a mere force! But one will pray to an intelligent and powerful being who loves, understands, and sympathizes with mankind. Such a being is Almighty God.

Nearness And Concern Of God

We have now initiated another implication of belief in prayer, viz., the nearness and concern of God, a personal being, to us and for us. It would be ridiculous for man to attempt conversation or communion with a being who was too far away and/or too disinterested to hear. Children of God are comforted in the realization that the Father is ever near and ever concerned with their well being. Cognizant of the fact that he will hearken to their cries, they call upon him "in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:22); knowing that he will deal justly with them.

Power Of God

Belief that God is powerful is implied in belief in prayer. We pray to God because we recognize his power to answer our prayers. God is able to govern all of his creation! A good example of this is found in James 5:16-18: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." Men who believe in prayer admit the power of God. They are confident that God can and will answer their prayers if such meet the conditions stipulated in his Word.

No Complete Predestination Of Events

Belief in the efficacy of prayer implies disbelief in complete, unconditional predestination of events. He is inconsistent who asks God to perform any act, while believing that every event is predetermined and that nothing can alter said events. Praying for God to perform an act is evidence that one does not believe in an inexorable fate or "what is to be, will be." We have yet to meet the person who truly believes in complete, unconditional predestination of events. Some have claimed to accept such a view, but none whom I have ever met actually believed such. The individual who believes in the efficacy of prayer cannot, consistently, adhere to this erroneous theory.

Prayer, brethren, is an essential in the lives of God's people. Let us recognize the importance of it and heed the admonition of the apostle Paul, "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thes .5:17) God will bless us if we do!