Author’s Note: Interested readers can find all previous volumes in this series here. Flash info: At the request of many Townhall readers, the first 56 volumes have been compiled into a book called “Bible Study For Those Who Do Not Read the Bible”. Read more details at the end. Now let’s go back to our usual programming.
Thank you for joining us as we conclude our two-part series on prayer. Last week we discussed “Prayer in the Hebrew Bible” and today the New Testament.
Jesus taught his disciples the dos and don’ts of prayer in Matthew 6: 5-9. He discouraged the “show off praying,” saying, “And when you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites, for they like to pray standing in synagogues and on street corners to be seen by others. “”
Instead, Jesus encouraged private prayer: “’But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is invisible. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. ‘ ”Jesus also taught that“ ‘your Father knows what you need before you ask him.’ ”
Jesus cautioned against ‘babbling’ prayers: “’And when you pray, do not continue to babble like Gentiles, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.’ Then Jesus taught his disciples “how you should pray” and began to teach what is called “the Lord’s Prayer”:
“’Our heavenly Father, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And do not subject us to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one ‘” (Matthew 6: 9-13 NIV).
Do you notice that something is missing? A “final” verse appears in both the King James and New King James translations, and often recited in churches: “And do not submit us to temptation, but deliver us from evil: glory, forever.” Amen” (Matthew 6: 9-13 KJV).
Over the centuries there has been a little controversy over the last verse, omitted from many translations. The NIV Study Bible footnote explains: “Some late manuscripts add ‘for the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever are yours, Amen.’” (For further study, here is Catholic and Protestant explanations.)
Personally, I have been blessed with several visits to the holy place which houses the rock from which Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer. Called on “Church of Pater Noster” (Latin for “Our Father”), it is located (by tradition) on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem. But most visually captivating, the Lord’s Prayer – translated into the major and minor languages of the world – is displayed on ceramic tiles embedded in the stone walls. The Pater Noster Church presents the universality and eternal power of the Lord’s Prayer in a serene garden setting.
Besides how to pray, Jesus taught us why we should pray: “’Ask and it will be given to you; Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For all those who ask receive; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will open ‘” (Matthew 7: 7-8).
However, those who have faith in Jesus know that sometimes after “asking”, “seeking” and “knocking” the answer seems to be “no” and the “door” is closed. But, ultimately, believers recognize that unanswered prayer is an essential principle of faith because, as Saint Paul wrote: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who live there. love, who were called according to his purpose. ” (Romans 8:28). Think about all the unanswered prayers in your life and how, trusting God, he finally worked “all things” “for good”.
Let us now move on to a timeless, deep and magnificent prayer spoken by the Mother of Jesus while he was in her womb. Called “The Magnificat” or “The Song of Mary”, the prayer appears in Luke 1: 46-56 and begins:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has remembered the humble state of his servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me – holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. (See Vol. 19 for a further study of the Magnificat.)
In our remaining space, I will review Saint Paul’s famous prayer instruction verses. (Paul fans can read his “greatest hits” in vol. 61.)
What Paul wrote in Philippians always appeals to the crowd and prepares you for personal prayer:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I repeat: rejoice! May your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in every situation, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Jesus Christ ” (Philippians 4: 4-7).
Among the most popular Pauline verses is “The Armor of God,” recorded in Ephesians. This prayer tutorial aims to strengthen and protect you by donning spiritual warfare gear before and during your prayers:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his almighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take a stand against the plans of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the celestial realms ” (Ephesians 6: 10-18.) (The entire passage is linked.)
The last verse “The Armor of God” sums up today’s lesson: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be vigilant and always continue to pray for all of the Lord’s people. Amen!
Finally, here is more information about my new book, “Bible Study For Those Who Do Not Read the Bible”. The publication date is September 27 and presales are available at Target and Barnes & Noble, But no Amazon presales again. Many thanks to the readers who asked and encouraged me to make these studies available in book form. Could you pray that the book reaches those who need to know the Bible?
Myra Kahn Adams is a media producer and a conservative political and religious writer with many national credits. She is also the executive director of www.SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to the education of the Shroud of Turin. Contact: [email protected] or Twitter @MyraKAdams.