Bible Encyclopedia for PRAYER

Praise and Worship Bible Study

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

For Prayer

An exhaustive Biblical encyclopedia that details every significant word in the Bible. Contains articles by nearly 200 scholars about every aspect of the culture, language, people, and literature of the Bible.



The Mosaic law did not regulate the offering of prayer, but fully recognized its spontaneous character. In what manner or how far back in Jewish history the sacrificial prayer, mentioned in Luke 1:10, originated no one knows. In the days of Christ it had evidently become an institution. But ages before that, stated hours of prayer were known and religiously observed by all devout Jews. It evidently belonged to the evolutionary process of Jewish worship, in connection with the temple-ritual. Devout Jews, living at Jerusalem, went to the temple to pray (Luke 18:10 Acts 3:1). The pious Jews of the Diaspora opened their windows “toward Jerus” and prayed “toward” the place of God’s presence (1 Kings 8:48 Daniel 6:10 Psalm 5:7). The regular hours of prayer, as we may infer from Psalm 55:17 and Daniel 6:10, were three in number. The first coincided with the morning sacrifice, at the 3rd hour of the morning, at 9 AM therefore (Acts 2:15). The second was at the 6th hour, or at noon, and may have coincided with the thanksgiving for the chief meal of the day, a religious custom apparently universally observed (Matthew 15:36 Acts 27:35). The 3rd hour of prayer coincided with the evening sacrifice, at the ninth hour (Acts 3:1; Acts 10:30). Thus every day, as belonging to God, was religiously subdivided, and regular seasons of prayer were assigned to the devout believer. Its influence on the development of the religious spirit must have been incalculable, and it undoubtedly is, at least in part, the solution of the riddle of the preservation of the Jewish faith in the cruel centuries of its bitter persecution. Mohammedanism borrowed this feature of worship from the Jews and early Christians, and made it one of the chief pillars of its faith.

Henry E. Dosker


An Old Testament pseudepigraph, number 3 in the Stichometry of Nicephorus (Westcott, Canon of the New Testament(7), 571), with the length given as 1,100 lines, and number 5 in the List of Sixty Books (Westcott, 568). The work is lost, and the only quotations are in Origen (In Joan., ii.25, English in Ante-Nicene Fathers, IX, 341; In Gen., iii.9, 12). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are said to have been created before every work, but Jacob-Israel is the greatest, “the firstborn of every living creature,” the “first minister in God’s presence,” greater than the angel with whom he wrestled. The purport may be anti-Christian, the patriarchs exalted in place of Christ; compare, perhaps, Enoch 71 (but not so in Charles’ 1912 text), but Origen’s favorable opinion of the book proves that the polemic could not have been very direct.


GJV, 4th edition, III, 359-60; Dillmann in PRE, 2nd edition, XII, 362; compare Beer in 3rd edition, XVI, 256; Fabricius, Codex pseudep. Vet. Test., I, 761-71.

Burton Scott Easton


(Matthew 6:9-13 Luke 11:2-4): Prayer occupied an important place in the life and the teachings of Jesus. He was emphatically a man of prayer, praying frequently in private and in public, and occasionally spending whole nights in communion with His heavenly Father. He often spoke to His disciples on the subject of prayer, cautioning them against ostentation, or urging perseverance, faith and large expectation, and He gave them a model of devotion in the Lord’s prayer.

  1. Twofold Form:

This prayer is given by the evangelists in two different forms and in two entirely different con nections. In Matthew’s account the prayer is given as a part of the Sermon on the Mount and in connection with a criticism of the ostentation usual in the prayers of the hypocrites and the heathen. Luke introduces the prayer after the Galilean ministry and represents it as given in response to a request from one of His disciples, “Lord teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” It gives us, however, no note of time or place, and it is quite possible that the incident which it records took place much earlier. The later form is much shorter than that of Matthew and the common parts differ materially in language.

In view of the differences, the reader instinctively inquires whether the prayer was given on two different occasions in these different connections, or the evangelists have presented the same incident in forms derived from different sources, or modified the common source to suit their immediate purposes.

If the prayer was given only on one occasion, there is little doubt that Luke preserves the true historical circumstances, though not necessarily the accurate point of time or place, or the exact form of language. Such a request made at the close of the prayer of Jesus would be natural, and the incident bears every mark of reality. On the other hand, it would be reasonable to assume that the author of Matthew’s source, remembering the incident, incorporated the prayer in the Sermon on the Mount as an illustration of the injunctions concerning prayer.

There are many reasons for regarding the Sermon as a collection of sayings spoken on different occasions and summarized for convenience in teaching and memorizing. There is, however, no proof that the prayer was given but once by Jesus. We need not suppose that His disciples were always the same, and we know that He gave instruction in prayer on various occasions. He may have given the model prayer on one occasion spontaneously and at another time on the request of a disciple. It is probable that the two evangelists, using the same or different sources, presented the prayer in such connection as best suited the plan of their narratives. In any case, it is rather remarkable that the prayer is not quoted or directly mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament.

  1. Arrangement:

In addition to the opening salutation, “Our Father who art in heaven,” the Lord’s Prayer consists of six petitions. These are arranged in three equal parts. In the first part, the thought is directed toward God and His great purposes. In the second part, the attention is directed to our condition and wants. The two sets of petitions are closely related, and a line of progress runs through the whole prayer. The petitions of the first part are inseparable, as each includes the one which follows. As the hallowing of God’s name requires the coming of His kingdom, so the kingdom comes through the doing of His will. Again, the first part calls for the second, for if His will is to be done by us, we must have sustenance, forgiveness and deliverance from evil. If we seek first the glory of God, the end requires our good. While we hallow His name we are sanctified in Him. The doxology of Matthew and our rituals is not found in the leading manuscripts and is generally regarded as an ancient liturgical addition. For this reason it is omitted by the Revised Version (British and American).

  1. Sources:

The sources of the two accounts cannot be known with certainty. It is hardly correct to say that one account is more original than the other. The original was spoken in Aramaic, while both of the reports are certainly based on Greek sources. The general agreement in language, especially in the use of the unique term epiousios shows that they are not independent translations of the Aramaic original.

  1. Special Expressions:

Three expressions of the prayer deserve special notice. The words, “Our Father,” are new in the Bible and in the world. When God is called Father in the Old Testament, He is regarded as Father of the nation, not of the individual. Even in the moving prayer of Isaiah 63:16 (the King James Version), “Doubtless thou art our father,” the connection makes clear that the reference is to God in the capacity of Creator. The thought of God as the Father of the individual is first reached in the Apocrypha: “O Lord, Father and Master of my life” (Sirach 23:1; compare The Wisdom of Solomon 2:16; 14:3). Here also the notion is veiled in the thought of God as Creator. It was left for Jesus the Son to give us the privilege of calling God “Our Father.”

Of the adjective epiousion, “daily” or “needful,” neither the origin nor the exact meaning is or is likely to be known. Whether it is qualitative or temporal depends on its derivation from epeinai, or epienai. Our translators usually follow the latter, translating “daily.” the American Standard Revised Version gives “needful” as a marginal rendering.

The phrase apo tou ponerou, is equally ambiguous. Since the adjective may be either masculine or neut., it is impossible to decide whether “from the evil one” or “from the evil” was intended. The probability is in favor of the masculine. The Oriental naturally thought of evil in the concrete, just as we think of it in the abstract. For this reason the Authorized rendering “from evil” is more real to us. The evil deprecated is moral, not physical.

  1. Purpose: The Lord’s Prayer was given as a lesson in prayer. As such this simple model surpasses all precepts about prayer. It suggests to the child of God the proper objects of prayer. It supplies suitable forms of language and illustrates the simple and direct manner in which we may trustingly address our heavenly Father. It embraces the elements of all spiritual desire summed up in a few choice sentences. For those who are not able to bring their struggling desires to birth in articulate language it provides an instructive form. To the mature disciple it ever unfolds with richer depths of meaning. Though we learn these words at our mother’s knee, we need a lifetime to fill them with meaning and all eternity to realize their answer.


The literature of this subject is very extensive. For brief treatment the student will consult the relative sections in the commentaries on the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the Lives of Christ and the articles on the Lord’s Prayer in the several Bible diets. A collection of patristic comment is given by G. Tillmann in his Das Gebet nach der Lehre der Heiligen dargestellt, 2 volumes, Freiburg, 1876. The original comments may be found in any of the standard collections of the Church Fathers.

Among historical studies may be mentioned, F.H. Chase, The Lord’s Prayer in the Early Church, Cambridge, 1891, and G. Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, I, Leipzig, 1898, English translation, Edinburgh, 1902.

Among the numerous interpretative treatments, the following are some of the more important: N. Hall, The Lord’s Prayer, Edinburgh, 1889; H.J. Van Dyke, The Lord’s Prayer, New York, 1891; J. Ruskin, Letters to the Clergy on the Lord’s Prayer and the Church, late edition, New York, 1896; E. Wordsworth, Thoughts on the Lord’s Prayer, New York, 1898; C.W. Stubbs, Social Teachings of the Lord’s Prayer, London, 1900; A.B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, chapter vi, 4th edition, New York, 1905; L.T. Chamberlain, The True Doctrine of Prayer, New York, 1906; F.M. Williams, Spiritual Instructions on the Lord’s Prayer, New York, 1907.

Russell Benjamin Miller


  1. Name
  2. Canonicity and Position
  3. Contents
  4. Original Language
  5. Authenticity
  6. Author and Motive
  7. Date
  8. Text and Versions

(1) Greek

(2) Latin


The Prayer of Manasses purports to be, and may in reality be, the prayer of that king mentioned in 2 Chronicles 33:13, 18 f.

  1. Name:

In Cod.

A. it is called simply “A Prayer of Manasses,” in the London Polyglot “A Prayer of Manasses, King of the Jews.” Its title in the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) is “A Prayer of Manasses, King of Judah, when He Was Held Captive in Babylon.” In Baxter’s Apocrypha, Greek and English this Prayer appears at the end with the heading “A Prayer of Manasses, son of Ezekias” (equals Hezekiah).

  1. Canonicity and Position:

The Greek church is the only one which has consistently reckoned this Prayer as a part of its Bible. Up to the time of the Council of Trent (1545-1563 A.D.), it formed a part of the Vulgate, but by that council it was relegated with 3 and 4 (1 and 2) Esdras to the appendix (which included uncanonical scriptures), “lest they should become wholly lost, since they are occasionally, cited by the Fathers and are found in printed copies. Yet it is wholly absent from the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) of Sixtus V, though it is in the Appendix of the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) of Clement VIII. Its position varies in manuscripts, versions and printed editions of the Septuagint. It is most frequently found among the odes or canticles following the Psalter, as in Codices Alexandrinus, T (the Zurich Psalter) and in Ludolf’s Ethiopic Psalter. In Swete’s Septuagint the Psalter of Solomon followed by the odes (Odai), of which The Prayer of Manasseh is the 8th, appear as an Appendix after 4 Maccabees in volume III. It was placed after 2 Chronicles in the original Vulgate, but in the Romanist Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) it stands first, followed by 3 and 4 (1 and 2) Esdras in the apocryphal Appendix. It is found in all manuscripts of the Armenian Bible, where, as in Swete’s Septuagint, it is one of many odes. Though not included in Coverdale’s Bible or the Geneva VS, it was retained (at the close of the Apocrypha) in Luther’s translation, in Mathew’s Bible and in the Bishops’ Bible, whence it passed into our English Versions of the Bible.

  1. Contents:

According to 2 Chronicles 33 (compare 2 Kings 21) Manasseh was exiled by the Assyrians to Babylon as a punishment for his sins. There he became penitent and earnestly prayed to God for pardon and deliverance. God answered his prayer and restored him to Jerusalem and to the throne. Though the prayer is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 33:13, 18, it is not given, but this lack has been supplied in the The Prayer of Manasseh of the Apocrypha. After an opening invocation to the God of Abraham, Isaac, Judah and their righteous seed, the Creator of all things, most high, yet compassionate, who has ordained repentance, not for perfect ones like the patriarchs who did not need it, but for the like of the person praying, there follows a confession of sin couched for the most part in general terms, a prayer for pardon and a vow to praise God forever if this prayer is answered.

  1. Original Language:

The bulk of scholars (Fritzsche, Reuss, Schurer, Ryssel, etc.) agree that this Prayer was composed in Greek. The Greek recension is written in a free, flowing and somewhat rhetorical style, and it reads like an original work, not like a translation. Though there are some Hebraisms, they are not more numerous or striking than usually meet us in Hellenistic Greek. It is of some importance also that, although Jewish tradition adds largely to the legends about Manasseh, it has never supplied a Hebrew version of the Prayer (see VERSIONS; TEXT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT). On the other hand, Ewald (Hist. Isr, I, 186; IV, 217, note 5, German edition, IV, 217), Furst (Gesch. der bibl. Lit., II, 399), Budde (ZAW, 1892, 39;), Ball (Speaker’s Apocrypha) and others argue for a Hebrew original, perhaps existing in the source named of 2 Chronicles 33:18 (see Ryssel in Kautzsch, Die Apocrypha des Altes Testament, 167).

  1. Authenticity:

Have we here the authentic prayer of Manasseh offered under the circumstances described in 2 Chronicles 33 ? Ewald and the other scholars named (see foregoing section), who think the Prayer was composed in Hebrew, say that we have probably here a Greek rendering of the Hebrew original which the Chronicler saw in his source. Ball, on the other hand, though not greatly opposed to this view, is more convinced that the Hebrew original is to be sought in a haggadic narrative concerning Manasseh. Even if we accept the view of Ewald or of Ball, we still desiderate evidence that this Hebrew original is the very prayer offered by the king in Babylon. But the arguments for a Greek original are fairly conclusive. Many Old Testament scholars regard the narrative of the captivity, prayer and penitence of Manasseh as a fiction of the Chronicler’s imagination, to whom it seemed highly improper that this wicked king should escape the punishment (exile) which he richly deserved. So De Wette (Einleitung), Graf (Stud. u. Krit., 1859, 467-94, and Gesch. Bucher des Altes Testament, 174) and Noldeke (Schenkel’s Bibelwerk, “Manasse”). Nothing corresponding to it occurs in the more literal narrative of 2 Kings 21, an argument which, however, has but little weight. Recent discoveries of cuneiform inscriptions have taken off the edge of the most important objections to the historicity of this part of Chronicles. See Ball (op. cit., 361;) and Bissell (Lange’s Apocrypha, 468). The likeliest supposition is that the author of the Prayer was an Alexandrian Jew who, with 2 Chronicles 33 before him, desired to compose such a prayer as Manasseh was likely to offer under the supposed circumstances. This prayer, written in excellent Alexandrian Greek, is, as Fritzsche points out, an addition to 2 Chronicles 33, corresponding to the prayers of Mordecai and Esther added to the canonical Esther (Additions to Esther 13:8-14:19), and also to the prayer of Azarias (The So of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:2-22) and the So of the Three Young Men (The So of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:29-68) appended to the canonical Book of Daniel.

  1. The Author and His Motive:

That the author was an Alexandrian Jew is made probable by the (Greek) language he employs and by the sentiments he expresses. It is strange to find Swete (Expository Times, II, 38) defending the Christian authorship of this Prayer. What purpose could the writer seek to realize in the composition and publication of the penitential psalm? In the absence of definite knowledge, one may with Reuss (Das Altes Testament, VI, 436) suppose that the Jewish nation was at the time given up to great unfaithfulness to God and to gross moral corruption. The lesson of the Prayer is that God will accept the penitent, whatever his sins, and remove from the nation its load of sufferings, if only it turns to God.

  1. Date:

Ewald and Furst (op. cit.) hold that the prayer is at least as old as the Book of Chronicles (300 B.C.), since it is distinctly mentioned, they say, in 2 Chronicles 33:13, 18 f. But the original form was, as seen (compare 4 above), Greek, not Hebrew. Moreover, the teaching of the Prayer is post-Biblical. The patriarchs are idealized to the extent that they are thought perfect and therefore not needing forgiveness (33:8); their merits avail for the sinful and undeserving (33:1) (see Weber, Jud. Theologie, 292). The expressions “God of the Just” (33:8), “God of those who repent” (33:13), belong to comparatively late Judaism. A period about the beginning of the Christian era or (Fritzsche) slightly earlier would suit the character (language and teaching) of the Prayer. The similarity between the doctrines implied in The Prayer of Manasseh and those taught in apocryphal writings of the time confirms this conclusion. There is no need with Bertholdt to bring down the writing to the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. Fabricius (Liber Tobit, etc., 208) dates the Prayer in the 4th or 5th century A.D., because, in his opinion, its author is the same as that of the Apostolical Constitutions which has that date. But the source of this part of the Apostolical Constitutions is the Didaskalia (3rd century), and moreover both these treatises are of Christian origin, the Prayer being the work of an Alexandrian Jew.

  1. Text and Versions:

(1) Greek:

The Greek text occurs in Codices Alexandrinus, T (Psalterium Turicence 262, Parsons). Swete (OLD TESTAMENT in Greek, III, 802-4) gives the text of Codex Alexandrinus with the variations of T. It is omitted from the bulk of ancient manuscripts and editions of the Septuagint, as also from several modern editions (Tischendorf, etc.). Nestle (Septuaginta Studien, 1899, 3) holds that the Greek text of Codices Alexandrinus, T, etc., has been taken from the Apostolical Constitutions or from the Didaskalia. The common view is that it was extracted by the latter from the Septuagint.

(2) Latin:

The Latin text in Sabatier (Bib. Sac. Latin, III, 1038) is not by Jerome, nor is it in the manner of the Old Latin; its date is later.


The outstanding literature has been cited in the foregoing article. Reference may be made to Howorth (“Some Unconventional Views on the Text of the Bible,” PSBA, XXXI, 89;: he argues that the narrative concerning Manasseh, including the Prayer in the Apostolical Constitutions, represents a portion of the true Septuagint of 2 Chronicles 33).

T. Witton Davies


prar (deesis, proseuche, (enteuxis; for an excellent discussion of the meaning of these see Thayer’s Lexicon, p. 126, under the word deesis; the chief verbs are euchomai, proseuchomai, and deomai, especially in Luke and Acts; aiteo, “to ask a favor” distinguished from erotao, “to ask a question,” is found occasionally): In the Bible “prayer” is used in a simpler and a more complex a narrower and a wider signification. In the former case it is supplication for benefits either for one’s self (petition) or for others (intercession). In the latter it is an act of worship which covers all soul in its approach to God. Supplication is at the heart of it, for prayer always springs out of a sense of need and a belief that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). But adoration and confession and thanksgiving also find a It place, so that the suppliant becomes a worshipper. It is unnecessary to distinguish all the various terms for prayer that are employed in the Old Testament and the New Testament. But the fact should be noticed that in the Hebrew and Greek aloe there are on the one hand words for prayer that denote a direct petition or short, sharp cry of the heart in its distress (Psalm 30:2 2 Corinthians 12:8), and on the other “prayers” like that of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10), which is in reality a song of thanksgiving, or that of Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, in which intercession is mingled with doxology (Ephesians 3:14-21).

  1. In the Old Testament:

The history of prayer as it meets us here reflects various stages of experience and revelation. In the patriarchal period, when `men began to call upon the name of the Lord’ (Genesis 4:26; compare Genesis 12:8; Genesis 21:33), prayer is naive, familiar and direct (Genesis 15:2; 17:18; 18:23 ; 24:12). It is evidently associated with sacrifice (Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4; Genesis 26:25), the underlying idea probably being that the gift or offering would help to elicit the desired response. Analogous to this is Jacob’s vow, itself a species of prayer, in which the granting of desired benefits becomes the condition of promised service and fidelity (Genesis 28:20). In the pre-exilic history of Israel prayer still retains many of the primitive features of the patriarchal type (Exodus 3:4 Numbers 11:11-15 Judges 6:13; 11:30 1 Samuel 1:11 2 Samuel 15:8 Psalm 66:13 f). The Law has remarkably little to say on the subject, differing here from the later Judaism (see Schurer, HJP, II, i, 290, index-vol, p. 93; and compare Matthew 6:5;; 23:14; Acts 3:1; Acts 16:13); while it confirms the association of prayer with sacrifices, which now appear, however, not as gifts in anticipation of benefits to follow, but as expiations of guilt (Deuteronomy 21:1-9) or thank offerings for past mercies (Deuteronomy 26:1-11). Moreover, the free, frank access of the private individual to God is more and more giving place to the mediation of the priest (Deuteronomy 21:5; Deuteronomy 26:3), the intercession of the prophet (Exodus 32:11-13 1 Samuel 7:5-13; 1 Samuel 12:23), the ordered approach of tabernacle and temple services (Exodus 40 1 Kings 8). The prophet, it is true, approaches God immediately and freely-Moses (Exodus 34:34 Deuteronomy 34:10) and David (2 Samuel 7:27) are to be numbered among the prophets-but he does so in virtue of his office, and on the ground especially of his possession of the Spirit and his intercessory function (compare Ezekiel 2:2 Jeremiah 14:15).

A new epoch in the history of prayer in Israel was brought about by the experiences of the Exile. Chastisement drove the nation to seek God more earnestly than before, and as the way of approach through the external forms of the temple and its sacrifices was now closed, the spiritual path of prayer was frequented with a new assiduity. The devotional habits of Ezra (Ezra 7:27; Ezra 8:23), Nehemlab (Nehemiah 2:4; Nehemiah 4:4, 9, etc.) and Daniel (Daniel 6:10) prove how large a place prayer came to hold in the individual life; while the utterances recorded in Ezra 9:6-15 Nehemiah 1:5-11; Nehemiah 9:5-38 Daniel 9:4-19 Isaiah 63:7-64:12 serve as illustrations of the language and spirit of the prayers of the Exile, and show especially the prominence now given to confession of sin. In any survey of the Old Testament teaching the Psalms occupy a place by themselves, both on account of the large period they cover in the history and because we are ignorant in most cases as to the particular circumstances of their origin. But speaking generally it may be said that here we see the loftiest flights attained by the spirit of prayer under the old dispensation-the intensest craving for pardon, purity and other spiritual blessings (Psalm 51; Psalm 130), the most heartfelt longing for a living communion with God Himself (Psalm 42:2; Psalm 63:1; Psalm 84:2).

  1. In the New Testament:

Here it will be convenient to deal separately with the material furnished by the Gospel narratives of the life and teaching of Christ and that found in the remaining books. The distinctively Christian view of prayer comes to us from the Christ of the Gospels. We have to notice His own habits in the matter (Luke 3:21; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:16, 29; 22:32, 39-46; Luke 23:34-46 Matthew 27:46 John 17), which for all who accept Him as the revealer of the Father and the final authority in religion immediately dissipate all theoretical objections to the value and efficacy of prayer. Next we have His general teaching on the subject in parables (Luke 11:5-9; Luke 18:1-14) and incidental sayings (Matthew 5:44; Matthew 6:5-8; 7:7-11; 9:38; 17:21; 18:19; 21:22; 24:20:00; 26:41 and the parallels), which presents prayer, not as a mere energizing of the religious soul that is followed by beneficial spiritual reactions, but as the request of a child to a father (Matthew 6:8; Matthew 7:11), subject, indeed, to the father’s will (Matthew 7:11; compare Matthew 6:10; Matthew 26:39, 42 1 John 5:14), but secure always of loving attention and response (Matthew 7:7-11; Matthew 21:22). In thus teaching us to approach God as our Father, Jesus raised prayer to its highest plane, making it not less reverent than it was at its best in Old Testament times, while far more intimate and trustful. In the LORD’S PRAYER (which see). He summed up His ordinary teaching on the subject in a concrete example which serves as a model and breviary of prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 Luke 11:2-4). But according to the Fourth Gospel, this was not His final word upon the subject. On the night of the betrayal, and in full view of His death and resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand, He told His disciples that prayer was henceforth to be addressed to the Father in the name of the Son, and that prayer thus offered was sure to be granted (John 16:23, 24, 26). The differentia of Christian prayer thus consists in its being offered in the name of Christ; while the secret of its success lies on the one hand in the new access to the Father which Christ has secured for His people (John 17:19; compare Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 10:19-22), and on the other in the fact that prayer offered in the name of Christ will be prayer in harmony with the Father’s will (John 15:7; compare 1 John 3:22; 1 John 5:13).

In the Acts and Epistles we see the apostolic church giving effect to Christ’s teaching on prayer. It was in a praying atmosphere that the church was born (Acts 1:14; compare Acts 2:1); and throughout its early history prayer continued to be its vital breath and native air (Acts 2:42; Acts 3:1; Acts 6:4, 6 and passim). The Epistles abound in references to prayer. Those of Paul in particular contain frequent allusions to his own personal practice in the matter (Romans 1:9 Ephesians 1:16 Philippians 1:9 1 Thessalonians 1:2, etc.), and many exhortations to his readers to cultivate the praying habit (Romans 12:12 Ephesians 6:18 Philippians 4:6 1 Thessalonians 5:17, etc.). But the new and characteristic thing about Christian prayer as it meets us now is its connection with the Spirit. It has become a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 14:14-16); and even those who have not this gift in the exceptional charismatic sense may “pray in the Spirit” whenever they come to the throne of grace (Ephesians 6:18 Jude 1:20). The gift of the Spirit, promised by Christ (John 14:16;, etc.), has raised prayer to its highest power by securing for it a divine cooperation (Romans 8:15, 26 Galatians 4:6). Thus Christian prayer in its full New Testament meaning is prayer addressed to God as Father, in the name of Christ as Mediator, and through the enabling grace of the indwelling Spirit.


J. C. Lambert













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J. C. Lambert

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915 edition) is a public domain biblical encyclopedia. This encyclopedia was published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

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