There’s probably no subject in Christianity with which we are more aware of or hear referenced than prayer. Prayer is so basic, simple, familiar, mechanical, used, abused, powerful, and misunderstood as a theological subject. We never have a church function without prayer. Some Christians still offer prayers for their food before eating. Children learn to say their prayers at an early age.
In my opinion based on research, observations, and 46-years in the ministry, prayer is perhaps the most neglected and taken for granted blessing and power God has given to his children. In every direction we turn there are evidences that Christians and congregations have given more lip service to prayer than actual practice. Back in 1996 when I wrote Don’t Stop Praying; The Answer Is Coming, my researched discovered that the average church prayed a total of 15 to 20 minutes in all their combined services during a week.
ChristiaNet.com asked 1,200 Christians in a survey, “Do you pray at least one hour a week?” In response 82% said they prayed daily upon rising and before going to bed totaled, ‘well over one hour a week.’ Only 11% said they did not feel that their week totaled even an hour. Seven percent were unsure about whether or not their prayer time totaled an hour.”
One hour out of 168 hours in a week! I wonder how the heavenly Father feels with such an unbalanced usage of time in prayer? That’s approximately seven-and-a-half minutes a day given to prayer. Isn’t God fortunate that we take that much of the time He has given us to talk to Him? Do we really believe in the power of prayer?
The Institute of Prayer, one of the ministry programs of the Jeremiah Institute, is an effort to provide lessons, materials, books, and seminars to help answer the request of the disciples almost 2000 years ago: Lord teach us to pray (Luke 11:1). Four basic truths form the foundation of the Institute of Prayer:
You are encouraged to return to this section often for dynamic lessons on prayer. Also my new book Prayers To The Father Never Go Unanswered, will be available on the Amazon.com icon on this site.
Pray Without Ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17)
I desire that men in every place should pray (1 Tim. 2:8)
What are your prayer habits in the following times, places and situations? Using an A-B-C-D-F scale, indicate how you grade yourself:
1.___In a restaurant
2.___at family meals
3.___In work-place cafeteria
4.___Before an automobile trip
5.___Before going to bed
6.___When you get up in the morning
7.___Before you make a purchase of over $100.00
8.___Before an important decision
9.___Before going to church services
10.___Silently in a Bible class
11.___Silently in the assembly
12.___For your spouse every day
13.___For your family/children every day
14.___For an enemy or difficult person
16.___For the sick, shut-ins, etc.
17.___For wisdom and understanding
18.___For spiritual boldness
19.___For lost persons by name
20.___For political leaders
21.___For personal health and discipline issues
22.___For church leaders: elders, deacons, preacher, song leaders, teachers, and others.
23.___For specific congregational goals, stewardship, etc.
WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO TO IMPROVE YOUR PRAYER PRACTICES?
Few subjects related to prayer are questioned more than praying for the sick and praying for personal health issues. In some Christian circles when prayers for the sick or health issues are brought up there is a darting to disclaim miraculous healing, such as we see claimed by a televangelist. I would lead the parade in affirming disbelief in such so-called healing. That doesn’t mean, however that there isn’t a need to examine the relationship of prayer to health.
The Bible and research have information on this question: Are there any health benefit from prayer? First, let’s notice some commands relative to praying for the sick: Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick. Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sin, He will be forgiven (James 5:13-15).
Whatever interpretation we may place on these verses, one thing is clear and that is God has commanded us to pray for and with the sick. Why would He require this if there are no health benefits given in answer to prayer?
Fourth, King Hezekiah had a health problem. In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.” Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly (2 Kings 20:1-3).God answered the King’s prayer and added fifteen years to his life (2 Kings 20:6). Remember, this Old Testament story was written for our learning (Romans 15:4). We can pray about health issues and God will answer according to His will for our lives. Fifth, Timothy, the young evangelist mentored by the apostle Paul, evidently had some kind of stomach health issue, while I’m sure Paul must have prayed for Timothy, he gave him this health advice: No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your frequent infirmities (1 Timothy 5:23). As a side point it is clear that the Apostles never used their power to perform miracles to arbitrarily heal people. Peter didn’t heal Paul relative to the thorn in the flesh. Sixth, in writing to the Philippians the apostle Paul shares some good news about the faithful servant, Epaphroditus: [S]ince he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he is sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow (Philippians 2:26, 27). I think it is within reason to believe Paul and the church prayed for Epaphroditus.
The biblical evidence is clear. Prayer is to be offered for the sick; sometimes “medicine” is offered as a remedy, but it every case God’s will should be prayed for and accepted. There are health benefits in prayer.
It has been amazing how much attention has been given in recent years by scientist, medical doctors, the government, mental health professional, etc. to the subject of the health benefits of prayer. Few of these have had as the basis of their studies a theological premises; most have been based on the anatomy and physiological makeup of human beings. How does the body respond to prayer? has been one of the basic question researchers have been trying to answer. Without delving into the theological issues related to these studies, let’s just take a moment and note some findings of those who have researched the relationship of prayer to health.
I typed in “Health Benefits of Prayer” into my computer search engine and 13,300.000 results popped up. Evidently there is a lot of interest in the health benefits of prayer. Here are some research observations on the subject:
While research continues to explore the health benefits of prayer from the scientific point of view, which is just another way of letting light shine on one of the amazing power of prayer given by God. For the Christian there is belief and trust in God to answer prayers related to health issues, but always according to His will. No, it is not expecting a miraculous answer such as Jesus and His Apostles were able to perform. It is a simple and faithful obedience to the command, Is any among you sick, let him pray.
Relative to questions about prayer few are asked more frequently than, When should I pray?According
to the apostle Paul the answer is, Praying without stopping (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Paul is actually
saying “don’t abandon your prayer life” (habits). Since God does not sleep (Psalm 121:1-4), He is
ALWAYS listening and waiting for our prayers. Here are a number of answers to WHEN we should pray
that I have discovered in the Bible:
1. When we are in a predicament we should pray; like Jonah was in the belly of a whale (Jonah 2:1).
2. We should pray when we are in confinement; like Paul and Silas were in prison (Acts 16:25).
3. We should pray when we are thankful, which should be daily (Colossians 4:2).
4. We should pray when someone requests prayer (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
5. We should pray when our government leaders need prayer, which is all the time (1 Timothy 2:1-5).
6. We should pray when we need wisdom, which is an ongoing need ( James 1:1-5).
7. We should pray, as sad as it may sound, when we are approaching death (Acts 7: 59, 60; Hebrews
8. We should pray when we are in trouble, like the sailors on the ship going to Joppa (Jonah 1:14-16).
9. We should pray when we are making plans for the future (James 4:13-17).
10. We should pray when we need to confess our sins, which is perpetually (1 John 1:7-9).
11. We should pray when we face temptation, which is daily (Matthew 6:13; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
12. We should pray when we are anxious and worried, which is frequent because of life’s pressures
13. We should pray when we have decisions to make, which is almost daily (Luke 6:12, 13; Joshua 24:15).
14. We should pray when we feel discouraged, which is easy to occur in today’s setbacks ( Ephesians
15. We should pray when we know people don’t like us or actually hate us (Matthew 5:44).
16. We should pray when we extend a blessing to someone (Matthew 19:13).
17. We should pray as we think about the needs of others (John 17:9).
18. We should pray when there is a need for missionaries, which is all the time (Matthew 9:38; Luke
19. We should pray when the church needs to be prayed for, which is all the time (2 Corinthians 5:20).
20. We need to pray when we need to abound in love,which is all the time (Philippians 1:9).
21. We need to pray when we need spiritual understanding, which is all the time (Colossians 1:9).
22. We need to pray when it is morning, evening, and night, which occurs every day (Psalm 55:17).
23. We need to pray when a member of the church is in trouble (Acts 12:5).
24. We need to pray when we are rejoicing and our hearts are filled with joy (Romans 12:12; Psalm
25. We need to pray when we know others have needs (Job 42:10; James 1:27).
26. We need to pray when we need to ask God for something ( Matthew 7:7-12).
27. We need to pray when someone wants to pray withus (Matthew 18: 19, 20).
28. We need to pray when someone is sick (James 5:13-19).
29. We need to pray when we want to glorify and praise God, which is perpetually (Ephesians 3:21).
30. We need to pray when we are choosing leaders (Acts 1:24-26; 14:23).
These are just a few of the biblical reasons affirming when we should pray. Again it is Paul’s reminder,
Don’t stop prayer(1 Thessalonians 5;17). Don’t stop praying; the answer is coming. God is listening and
Today the banner or cross of Christ is honoured in what is called Christianity, by more people on planet earth than at any other time in history; more than one billion. As the church has moved from the caves to the cathedrals, she has amassed fortunes, build elaborate places for her members to gather for entertainment and the promotion of programs and doctrines squeezed from selected Bible verses. She sings “Oh how I love Jesus”, the servant of all, with a silver and gold cross, with inlaid diamonds, around her neck. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” has taken wings and soared to the skies in a Lear Jet bound, not for a cabin or leper colony, but a mansion on a hilltop or a Pent House. As the war for souls wages, and as the enemy, Satan, seems to be gaining ground; soldiers of Christ have abandoned the battleship and taken up passage on the cruise ship. Instead of hungering and thirsting after righteousness, she is burping from an over-indulgence of the delicacies of the world. Her mantra has survived from a rebuked ancestor, who dared to say when rebuked by Jesus, “We have need of nothing.” Nail scarred hands have been replaced by manicured handstand stainless gloves; instead of serving hands that wash dirty feet, they are waiting to be served.
Instead of killing the fatted calf to celebrate the prodigals return home to his father; the fatted calf has been reserved to celebrate the meeting of a budget or some other self-imposed goal. As the old farmer said, “We ain't doing what that Bible teaches.”
A movement inherited from ancestors, we claim,in the first century who conquered the world or her knees with the spread of the gospel (cf. Colossians 1:23), is now being conquered by members who are on pews who rarely pray. Indifference is draining her power. A church without power can’t win a spiritual battle As the church limps or rides her power scooter deeper into the 21 st century she has a number of obvious needs; that if not met may well lead to lights out and locked doors, as she is lowered in her casket in the graveyard of dead congregations. She needs a wake up call. She needs to hear and proclaim the gospel, which is the only power that can save a lost person (cf. Romans 1:14-17). Sin needs to be presented not as a social malfunction or disease, but as a cancer of the soul that keeps people out of heaven. Hell needs to be presented as hot and eternity long; and once there it is final—all hope is left behind. The church needs to leave “Broadway” for the “straight and narrow way”.
The church needs leaders, at all levels, who have fire in their bones for God and His word (Jeremiah 20:9). Business meetings need to be turned into prayer meetings. She needs to quit arguing about the size, color and placement of deck chairs while the Titanic sinks; she needs to throw out the lifeline. She needs to quit training soldiers how to manage the fort and train them for spiritual warfare out in the world (cf. 2 Timothy 2:1-3; 1 John 5:19).
The church needs to be driven not by slick adds from Wall Street, but by the mandates of the Holy Spirit contained in the Bible; God’s inspired word (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15-17). It is people who Jesus died for (cf. Matthew 26:28), not programs or agendas created by some marketing expert. Christ left heaven, not to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45).
Perhaps more than anything else the church needs to restore her prayer power. The prayer power that moved the first century Christians to boldly take the gospel to a hostile world (Acts 4:11-13). Our spiritual ancestors didn’t tack on a few minutes of prayer, as we are prone to do in our tight schedules. Prayer wasn’t a token exercise or part of a prescribed time-line in their services. In one of our favourite passages, Acts 2:42, we read, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayer.” They CONTINUED! It wasn’t a rare thing. A reading of Acts reveals prayer is mentioned in one way or another approximately 30 times. To say prayer is a Bible subject would be an understatement. Prayer is mentioned in one way or another approximately 650 times in the Bible. Prayer is demonstrated more than 200 times in the Bible. When did prayer become a neglected subject relative to obeying Paul’s command to “Pray without ceasing”? Whatever happened to Midweek Prayer Services? They are now a footnote in church history.
Can you imagine what would happen if the sermon was reduced to five or ten minutes in the Sunday morning and Sunday night services? What would the reaction be if prayer was given 30 to 45 minutes in the services. It is interesting that we have mega commands and examples of prayer and only a few related to preaching. No, I am not suggestions that we give less time to preaching; just more time to prayer.
What if we stopped our “deep theological” discussions about the “real meaning” of 1 Thessalonians 5;17—“Don’t stop praying”—and actually made it a pattern of our lives; what do you suppose would happen?
Where do we start? Perhaps the place to begin is with that familiar passage in Luke 11:1: “Now it came to pass, as he was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples”. We need to be taught how to pray! We need to study prayer and practice prayer in the church meetings and in our homes and personal lives. Prayer is a demonstration of our faith, character, and trust in God. It is our response of love to His love toward us.
We need to intentionally examine our present emphasis on prayer. Since the Bible has so much to say about it, we, too, need to be saying a lot about it, but more than that; we need to be practicing it more. Let’s pray! Not, “Shall we pray?” which someone may say no to, but “Let’s pray!”
J.J. Turner is the author of Prayers To The Father Never Go Unanswered. Order from my website: Amazon tab.
The imprint on our coins say, IN GOD WE TRUST. Do we really? How about when it comes to prayer; do we trust God to answer prayer? Does the frequency of our prayers, as well as the subjects of our prayers, demonstrates that we trust Him to answer our prayers? It may surprise you to hear that some who profess to be Christians doubt that God answers prayer. This helps to explains why some do not pray. Why pray to God if you don’t believe He can and does answer prayer? When we make a deposit in a bank we do so with the confidence that it is insured by the FDIC. When we make a prayer deposit in heaven we can do so with the assures that it is insured by the FIH: The Father in Heaven.
There are many truths documented in the Bible that provide valid reasons for trusting God to answer our prayers. This of course is based on the assumption that you believe the Word of God—Holy Bible—is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Here are some basic reasons to trust God to answer prayer:
These are only ten reasons why we can trust our heavenly Father to answer our prayers; there are many more. Our prayer relates to four major factors: