Dearly Beloved Brethren,

The disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ made this request to Jesus as recorded in Luke 11:1, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  As Christians, we know the importance of prayer and we ought to pray often and unceasingly. However, the reality for most Christians is that they hardly pray except maybe during meal times and when they face troubles in life. Even such prayers uttered are often not pleasing to God as it is prayed not to the glory of God and neither in faith.

If we want to grow spiritually, we must learn to pray and improve in our prayer life. We ought to pray such that our prayers are always answered by God. This does not mean asking God anything we want according to our whims and fancy and expecting God, like a good Santa Claus, to give to us. I would like to share 3 important elements in our prayers that we can have the assurance that God will always answer them.

Prayer according to the Word of God

We should learn to pray with the words of the Holy Scriptures. The Word of God is perfectly inspired and preserved by God. Hence, when we pray according to God’s Word, it will be a delight to God and acceptable to Him. This can only happen when we know and memorise the Word of God. Then in our prayers, we can plead with the Lord quoting His Word of promise to us. When we pray according to God’s Word, it will never be frivolous and self-centred.

Prayer for the Glory of God

If we ask the Lord in prayer for our own glory so that we can be lifted up in the sight of men, we can be very sure the prayer will not be heard by God. Be very careful when we ask God to bless our children with good exam result. What is our motive? If it is a selfish motive so that they can go into a good school for us to boast, then God will not answer such prayer. If we ask the Lord to heal our sickness, and our motive is such that we can then enjoy the world, the Lord will not be pleased to answer such prayer. This is not much difference from asking the Lord to answer the prayer to strike a winning lottery. Every prayer of ours ought to be for the glory of God, and not ours at all. Hence, our hearts must be sincere and earnest that there be no hidden agenda except that God’s name be glorified. We must know that in sickness, God can glorify Himself through it. God can glorify Himself even when we do not get our promotion or our children’s result is below our expectation. Hence when we pray for God’s name to be glorified in our prayers, we do not dictate to God what He must give us but rather submit to His will to be done.

Prayer that appeals to the Lord’s Covenant

In our prayers, we should plead before the Lord based on His covenantal relationship with us that He is our Heavenly Father and we are chosen to be His children, God is a faithful God who keeps His covenant to us. In our prayers, we should pray trusting in the attributes of God which are love, mercy, holiness, righteousness and forgiveness. We can pray to the Lord appealing to God’s covenant not to leave us nor forsake us when we face difficult circumstances in life. It is such prayer trusting in God’s faithfulness and appealing to His covenant that we can rise up with spiritual courage and strength.

May the Lord truly teach us to pray!

Elder John Leong

How Not To Pray—II

Christians must not pray for the dead

1. Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to pray for  the dead.

2. Prayers for the dead are pagan and futile. At death, man’s “fate is sealed” and only God’s judgment awaits. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

3. Read our Lord’s teaching in Luke 16:19-31. Two men died. One was carried by angels into heaven. The other was cast into hell and everlasting torment. Both states are unalterable and eternal.

4. Nothing that the living does can in any way alter the state of the departed dead. No amount of prayers, or masses, or sacrifices, or offerings, or gifts to the church, can do anything—good or bad—to the souls of the dead.

5. Pray, if you will, for the living, and win them for Christ today!

(Adapted from 66 Pocket Prayers, S H Tow, p6)