Prayer: Basic Questions and Answers
What is prayer?
It is simply the activity of communicating with God.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Can anyone pray?
Communicating with God in prayer is the privilege of believers. God hears or knows everything an unbeliever thinks or says, but prayer is basically a blessing and a privilege God provides only for believers. If an unbeliever cries out to God, He may respond. But fundamentally it would normally be only to make a way for that unbeliever to know and be in a position to respond with faith to the gospel by which he can be saved. Faith in Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection would then position that person to have an effective prayer life as a believer.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Does God know my thoughts in prayer?
Yes! Since God is all-knowing, there’s never been a thought you ever had that God was not aware of.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
What should I be praying about?
Anything that concerns us.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [Emphasis added]
Can I rightfully expect God to answer my prayers?
Yes! You may or may not get what you request, but He will answer your every prayer. That has always been the case for God’s people. But just remember that the answer of no is just as much an answer as yes.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. [Emphasis added]
How often should I pray?
As often as you can. Remember that a silent prayer is just as real as an oral one. Again, God knows our thoughts. We should make it a habit to pray every day and often throughout the day, even if the prayers are very short.
I Thessalonians 5:17
17 Pray without ceasing.
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; [Emphasis added]
Can I be confident that God will answer my prayers?
Yes! But as I often say, an answer of no to a request is just as much of an answer as a yes.
I Timothy 2:8
8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. [Emphasis added]
Does my attitude play a part in my prayers?
Yes! We should always be thankful regardless of how God answers our prayers.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [Emphasis added]
How can I always be thankful regarding the way God chooses to answer my prayers?
You must realize that what God decides to do is best for you.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.
Can I trust God with the way He chooses to answer my prayers?
Yes! You surely can! But that is something you must learn to believe. In every generation, God has always been faithful to respond to the prayers of His people. No matter how mature or immature you may be as a believer, you can rest assured that God will answer your every prayer in the manner that is best for you. But just as you would not expect a loving father to grant every request of a child, it would be foolish to even want God to give us all that we ask for in prayer. In His infinite wisdom, He knows exactly how every one of our prayers need to be answered.
7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.
3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
Can I believe and rely on all the prayer promises in the Bible?
No! That answer will probably come as a surprise to you. It is very important for you to understand that all the many prayer promises in the Bible are for our learning, but they are not all given specifically to us. The whole Bible is FOR us, but it is not all TO us. Here are two of many examples.
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
What you must understand about this is that there was a time in the past [in the time or period of the book of Acts in the Bible] and there will be a time again in the future [in the time of what is known as the Tribulation period] when God’s people will be so in tune with God’s will that exactly what they ask in prayer will be exactly what God will provide. We are not in that time today. And many believers have been disappointed with their prayer life and with how things turned out with their prayer requests because they do not understand this principle. For more information on all this, see my book—22 Key Promises You Can Count On. Chapter 18 deals specifically with this question. You can also go to my book–Discovering God’s Rich Blessings in Times of Suffering. Chapter 6 is to do with prayer applied to suffering.
How important is prayer to my life as a believer?
It is very important. But it is not nearly as important as the time you spend studying the Bible. This is because what God has to say to you is far more important than anything you will ever have to say to Him. Furthermore, it is only through conscientious study of God’s Word that you will mature in your Christian life. Therefore, commit yourself to spending time in the study of God’s Word, the Bible, every day. Furthermore, spend most of your time studying the writings of the Apostle Paul, for it is in his writings that you will find God’s Word as it is specifically addressed to us today regarding all areas of life, including prayer.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
II Timothy 2:15
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Salvation: Is the salvation of a Believer secure?