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American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
Is the offering of the emotions and desires of the soul to God, in the name and through the mediation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is the communion of the heart with God through the aid of the Holy Spirit, and is to the Christian the very life of the soul. Without this filial spirit, no one can be a Christian, Job 21:15 Psalm 10:4 .
In all ages God has delighted in the prayers of his saints. From the promulgation of the law, the Hebrews did not intermit public worship daily in the tabernacle or the temple. It consisted in offering the evening and morning sacrifices, every day, accompanied with prayers by the priests and Levites in that holy edifice. Every day also the priests offered sacrifices, incense, offerings, and first fruits for individuals; they performed ceremonies for the redemption of the firstborn, or for purification from pollution; in a word, the people came thither from all parts to discharge their vows and to perform their devotions, not only on great and solemn days, but also on ordinary days; but nothing of this was performed without prayer, 1 Chronicles 23:30 Nehemiah 11:17 Luke 1:10 . Compare also 1 Kings 8:22 , and the Psalms of David for temple worship.
Pious men were accustomed to pray thrice in the day, at fixed hours, Psalm 55:7 Daniel 6:10 . See HOURS. Social, family, and secret prayer were all habitual with Bible saints; as well as brief ejaculations in the midst of their ordinary business, Nehemiah 2:4 . No uniform posture in prayer is enjoined in the Bible; standing with the hands outspread, 1 Kings 8.22 , bowing the head, Genesis 24:26 , kneeling, Luke 22:41 , and prostration on the ground, Matthew 26:39 , were all practiced. Prayer should be offered with submission to God's will, fervently, perseveringly, and with a confiding reliance on God in Christ; it should be accompanied by humble confession and hearty thanksgiving, and with supplications for all living men, as well as for our friends and those nearest to us. Habitual prayer to God is duty enjoined upon us by sound reason and by right affections; and he who lives without it thereby reveals the atheism of his heart. God requires all men thus to worship him, Ezekiel 36:37 Matthew 7:1-11 Philippians 4:6 1 Timothy 2:1-3 James 1:5; and for neglecting this duty there can be no sufficient excuse. It is often said that prayer cannot alter the unchangeable purposes of God; but the great scheme of his providence embraces every prayer that shall be offered, as well as the answer it shall receive. It is objected that prayer cannot increase his knowledge of our wants, nor his readiness to supply them; and that in any case he will do what is for the best. But he deems it best to grant many blessings in answer to prayer, which otherwise he would withhold; "He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee." The words of David will be those of every truly praying man: "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles," Psalm 34:6 .
False and formed religion makes a merit of its prayers, as though "much speaking" and "vain repetitions" could atone for heartlessness. Hypocrites also are wont to pray chiefly that they may have praise of men. These sins Christ reproves in Matthew 6:5-15 , and gives to his disciples the form of the Lord's prayer as a beautiful model. In Ephesians 6:18 1 Thessalonians 5:17 1 Timothy 2:8 , Paul directs that believers should pray in all places and at all times, lifting up pure hands towards heaven, and blessing God for all things, whether in eating, drinking, or what ever they do; and that every thing be done to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31 . In a word, our Savior has recommended to us to pray without ceasing, Luke 18:1 21:36 .
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Prayer'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ats/p/prayer.html. 1859.