Sunday Study: PRAYER

No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shopwindow to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.

Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.

The ministry of preaching is open to few; the ministry of prayer—the highest ministry of all human offices—is open to all. This world hits the trail for hell with a speed that makes our fastest plane look like a tortoise; yet alas, few of us can remember the last time we missed our bed for a night waiting upon God for a world-shaking revival. The secret of praying is praying in secret. A sinning man will stop praying, and a praying man will stop sinning. We are beggared and bankrupt, but not broken, nor even bent.

Prayer is profoundly simple and simply profound….In the matter of New Testament, Spirit-inspired, hell-shaking, world-breaking prayer, never has so much been left by so many to so few. For this kind of prayer there is no substitute. We do it—or die!

—Excerpt from Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries

Key Scripture verses related to "Prayer"

Old Testament:

  • 1 Samuel 9:16
  • 2 Samuel 22:7
  • 2 Kings 20:5
  • 2 Chronicles 30:27
  • Nehemiah 1:11
  • Psalm 5:3; Psa 18:6; Psa 34:6; Psa 66:20; Psa 69:13; Psa 102:1; Psa 102:17
  • Proverbs 15:8; Pro 15:29
  • Habakkuk 1:2

New Testament:

  • Matthew 21:13; Mat 21:22; Mat 23:14
  • Luke 6:12
  • Acts 1:14; Acts 12:5-11
  • Romans 12:12
  • Ephesians 6:18
  • Philippians 1:4; Phil 4:6-7
  • James 5:14-16; Jam 5:17-18
  • 1 Peter 4:7
Q&A with The Berean

Question: In your radio talks warning about yoga, you also warned against “emptying-the-mind”-type of meditation such as TM, where initiates are…given names of Hindu gods as a mantra….Some very prayerful people meditate with what could be called a “mantra”…repeating the name “Jesus” over and over. The Jesus prayer repeats, “Lord Jesus, Son of the Father, have mercy on me a sinner.”

If God has made us so that repeating a divine name invites the Spirit into our heart and soul, then what better form of prayer than to use this technique to invite the risen Christ into our hearts? You are branding some deeply committed Christian prayer warriors as heretics or enablers of demonic possession… If God…gave silent meditation the power to bring us into closer communication with Christ, who dwells in each of us, I would be very careful about condemning the practice….

Meditation has been used by Christians for centuries….Some amazing Christian “pray-ers” were…called the Desert Fathers…who fled to the desert to escape Roman persecution and lived lives of prayer. Look at the litanies in the Psalms where people…chanted the multitudinous names of God….

Response: Our authority is the Bible. Our example is not the “Desert Fathers” or “prayer warriors” but Christ and the men and women of God in His Word. As for “prayerful people” who meditate by “repeating the name ‘Jesus’ over and over,” Jesus Himself commanded, “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do… (Mt 6:7). Repeating the name “Jesus” over and over is surely vain repetition. Never did anyone in the Bible “pray” like that-it isn’t prayer. Nor is there any instruction to follow this heathen practice!

Repeating “Lord Jesus, Son of the Father, have mercy on me a sinner” is vain repetition. You admit that Christ dwells in every believer. Then why these vain repetitions for “inviting the risen Christ into our hearts”? It is a sign of immaturity, unbelief, and an insult to Christ to keep asking Him to “forgive us sinners.” He paid the full penalty for our sins and wants us to live by faith in the joy of His victory, not to repeatedly beg forgiveness without confession of specific sin.

Who says that “God has made us in a way that sitting quietly and saying a divine name invites the Spirit into our heart and soul”? Not the Bible. By “meditation,” the Bible does not mean to sit in silence with a blank mind, but to think deeply upon God’s works (Ps. 77:12; Ps. 143:5) and upon His “precepts, statutes, word” (Ps 119:15, 23, 48, 78, 148 etc.), with the intent of gaining wisdom and understanding (Prov 4:7). This is the very opposite of the prayer/meditation you commend.

Not I, but the Word of God, is critical of the unbiblical prayer techniques used by those whom you call “deeply committed Christian prayer warriors.” Prayer comes from the heart and flows from faith in and fellowship with God. When the disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray,” He gave nothing like these “prayers” you praise.

You refer to “litanies in the Psalms where people…chanted the multitudinous names of God.” I find nothing like that in the entire Bible. The word “chant” appears only once and it is a heathen practice. Nor does God have “multitudinous names.” His one name is Yahweh, (I AM, the self-existent One). References to Jehovah Jirah (the Lord our provider), Jehovah Rapha (the Lord our healer), etc., describe God’s attributes; they are not other names.