Sermons and Papers

The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer

By Dr. Raymond Surburg

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In the post-Reformation period of church history the number of theological disciplines was increased and their boundaries and scope were more clearly defined. Subjects that were once considered to be part and parcel of Christian doctrine were separated and a distinction made between Christian doctrine and Christian ethics.1 Prayer was one of these topics transferred from Christian doctrine and assigned to Christian ethics.2 An examination of nineteen and twentieth century books on dogmatics will reveal that some did not discuss prayer, while others did. For example, the Lutheran doctrine books of Reu,3 Stump,4 Lindberg,5 Schmid,6 Hove,7 do not treat the subject of prayer, while H. E. Jacobs,8 Pieper,9 J. T. Mueller,10 Luther,11 Hoenecke,12 do include prayer in their dogmatics discussions. Among non-Lutheran theologians Buswell,13 Berkhof,14 Shedd,15 Heppe,15a do not deal with prayer in their dogmatic works. Calvin in his Institutes has but one isolated reference,16 while Reu-Buehring,17 and Stump18 have given an extensive discussion to prayer in their books on Christian Ethics.

The fifth Sunday after Easter or the sixth Sunday in Easter (as now called) is known as Sunday Rogate, calling attention to Biblical prayer, the epistle lesson for that Sunday is John 15:23-30, where Christ speaks about prayer.19 The Lutheran Hymnal has a section where all hymns on prayer are grouped together.20 The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in connection with the celebration of its centennial in 1947, one of the essays was by A. Behnke on "Prayer," and when appearing in print was placed among doctrines the Synod had taught for at least a century.21 William Arndt in 1937 published a monograph on Christian Prayer.

The Frequency of Prayer in the Holy Scriptures

Both the Old and the New Testaments have considerable material and instruction pertaining to true prayer. From Genesis to Revelation the pages of the Bible are replete with all manner of information about God-pleasing prayer.

The observant reader will find that God commands prayer, the conditions under which prayers are acceptable, when prayer may take place, under what conditions they will be answered, see a classification of different prayers. He will find a delineation of Christ's exemplary prayer-life, set forth as a model, and also become aware of samples of God-pleasing prayer, the Bible gives examples of answered prayer, who and what to pray for, different postures possible in true prayer, the need for prayer, times when to pray.

The Princeton Study on Prayer

The Princeton Religious Research Center, 1994, asked 688 adults, ages 18 and over questions about their views on prayer.22 Only ten per cent reported that they most often did not pray in a house of worship, even though the Church is called "a house of prayer." Twenty-three per cent claimed that they heard voices and saw visions as a result of prayer. Eighty-six per cent reported that prayer made them feel better. Ninety-five per cent of those queried asserted that their prayers were answered and claimed that as a result of prayer they have a feeling of more peace and hope after having prayed. That the individuals questioned by the Princeton researchers had erroneous views about prayer is obvious from the few responses just given. There is a difference between what people have established about prayer and what God in His Word has set down as the ground rules for God-pleasing prayer. Just like many people have created their own theology by ignoring what the Bible teaches, so the same holds true of many an individual's creation of the theology of prayer. What God has revealed through His inspired writers must determine a person's concept of prayer, to be correct and also acceptable to the Creator of all mankind.

It would be instructive to ascertain what the Bible teaches about prayer.

  1. Prayer and the Christian Life

Francis Pieper correctly pointed out the inseparable connection between the Christian life and prayer, when he wrote: "As soon as a Christian has been justified by faith and thus becomes God's child, he begins to commune, with God. The personal conversing of the Christian with God is called prayer. It is altogether Scriptural to define prayer as "the conversation of the heart with God" (Psalm 27:8), whether the heart alone communes with God without clothing the prayers in words of the mouth or whether the mouth utters the prayer of the heart."23 J. T. Mueller claimed: "While the words of the mouth are not absolutely necessary to make a 'Communion With God' a prayer, Is. 65:24; Rom. 8,26,27, yet they must not be regarded as superfluous, Acts 7,59; 16:25."24 As long as a person remains in his natural state of sin and wrath, he fears and therefore flees God, Heb. 2,15; Gen. 3,6. But as soon as he by faith has entered into the new, he begins to commune with God. Rom. 8:15."24a

2. Prayer Is Not a Means of Grace

In the Scriptures God has spoken and still speaks to human beings, but in prayer human beings speak to God. Prayer is not a means of revelation. A means of grace is that by and through which grace and forgiveness are offered and conveyed to people, but in prayer we ask for grace and blessings. The grace and forgiveness for which we ask in prayer is conveyed through the Word of God and the Sacraments. The latter are the means of grace, not prayer. The prayers of the regenerate are not primarily a means of grace, but are an expression of the benefits of justification by faith.25 Reu claimed that "the prayer of the regenerate is not primarily a means for appropriating the spiritual gifts of the heavenly realm, but rather the immediate and self-evident expression of the child-relationship between him and his heavenly Father (Psalm 19:14).26

3. The Importance of Prayer

Prayer is for the Christian life what breathing is for life. Stump is correct when he wrote: "Prayer is the active communion or conversation of the believing heart with God. Its necessity for the spiritual life is fundamental. There can be no Christian life without it."27 By regeneration and justification the Christian has become a child of God and as such he is filled with love for God and trust in God and to this he gives most material expression in childlike conversation with the Father, in immediate approach to God and confident discussion with Him of all that moves the heart. Prayer is the evidence of this relationship, its natural expression. When the soul has become -conscious of it, it turns irrevocably to God in-prayer regardless of need to do so."28

In his writings Luther has some interesting statements about prayer. He once said "that as the cobbler makes shoes and the tailor a coat, so shall the Christian pray, prayer is the Christian's handwork." On another occasion he averred about prayer that "it is the pulsebeat of inner life."29

4. Prayer Not a Meritorious Act

According to the New Testament for many Pharisees prayer had degenerated into an opus operatum (i.e. something that worked mechanically). For them prayer was not basically communion with God, but it was the purpose of prayer to observe the correct form and also of praying at certain times. They made a show of their prayers, made broad their phylacteries and employed vain repetition (Matt. 6:6-7; 23:5). For these religious leaders of the Jews the content and the form of prayers were meticulously prescribed.30 Therefore, prayer became a meritorious act. The effectiveness of prayer was determined by their length and number of repetitions. During the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church viewed prayer not so much as communion with God, but as a meritorious act along with fasting and almsgiving.30a The mystics in .the Church believed that the purpose of prayer was absorption with God. The Lutheran Reformation restored prayer to its proper place as consisting of communion with God by the restoration of the doctrine of justification by faith.31

5. Reasons for Christian Prayer

Christians should be moved to prayer because of a number of Biblical reasons.32 Above all, Christians will be moved by God's gracious invitation. "Seek you my face (Ps. 27:8)," "call upon me in the day of trouble (Ps. 50:15)."Through David God said: "Seek the Lord and His strength, see His face forever (1 Chron. 16:ll)."Asaph in Psalm 60 encouraged: "Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee (v. 16)." Jesus told His disciples: "Ask, and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you (Matt. 7:7)."

Another reason why Christians will want to pray is God's promise to hear us. Such promises are numerous as can be seen from Matt. 7:7-8, Ps., 146:18-19; Ps. 60:16. Praying, is not a futile exercise for Christians, because God has said: "O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come (Ps. 66:2)." The healed blind man correctly stated a true fact, when he said: "We know that God does not listen to sinners, but that if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, to such he listens (John 9:31)."

Still another reason why Christians will wish to pray is their own as well as the neighbor's need. Trouble is a powerful motivation for praying, especially when God tells us to do just that. The prophet Isaiah recognized this when he wrote: "In trouble have they visited Thee, they poured out a prayer when chastening was upon them (26:16). Our own trouble, whether or not they are small or great, bodily, as the leper's (Luke 17:13), or spiritual, as the publican's (Luke 18:13) should prompt Christians to ask God for help. Abraham prayed for the righteous people in Sodom (Gen. 18:23-32) and as the Roman centurion did for his servant (Matt. 8:6-6).

6. Biblical Conditions for Valid and Effective Prayer

Prayers to be valid must be offered up to the Triune God. The Old and New Testaments forbid the offering up of prayers to idols or false gods.33 In the days of the judge Samuel, Eli's successor, advised Israel: "If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare for the Lord and serve Him only, and He will deliver you out of the hands of the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:2) The prophet Isaiah, speaking for the Lord, declared: "I am the Lord, that is My name, and My glory I will not give to another (Is. 42:8). The apostle John closed his First Letter with the warning: "My little children, guard yourselves from idols.*' (1 John 6:21). When the people of Lystra wanted to worship Barnabas and Paul as Zeus and Hermes, the two Christian evangelists refused such worship and called upon the Lystra people to turn from empty things to living God. Only Jesus and His Father and the Holy Spirit were to be worshipped. In the Pauline epistles there are many warnings about avoiding idols and idolatry.34 To call upon the Supreme Being, or the Great Spirit, Allah, Brahma or any other God who is not the Scriptural one, means being guilty of idolatry. Acts 4:12, John 3:16; John 14:1; Matt. 28:20 require that prayer to be acceptable must be directed to the One True God.

Since Christ is the only Mediator between God and men, it is wrong to address angels or saints asking them to pray for them.35 Acceptable prayer must proceed from faith. James warns: "But let him ask in faith with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let no man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, he Is double-minded man unstable in all of his ways" (James 1:6-8). This faith which is essential for prayer to be acceptable is created by the Holy Spirit for as St. Paul asserted; "Likewise the Spirit helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26). Prayer addressed to the Triune God excludes by its very nature willful sin, a fact known by the Pharisees (John 9:3). Isaiah asserts: "But your iniquities have separated you from God, and your sins have hidden His face from you" (Is. 69:2). Why will God not hear? "For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity, your lips have spoken lies. Your tongue has muttered perversity" (Is. 69:2).

Acceptable prayer to the true God must be conditioned by the will of God. In Gethsemane, as Jesus faced the great crisis of His life, he prayed "not My will be done but Thy will be done (Matt. 26:39)." John assured his readers in his First Epistle: "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 6:14).

7. For Whom Should Christians Pray?

Prayer must be as wide as living mankind. Writing to a fellow laborer in the ministry, Paul instructed Timothy: "Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers and intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all mankind (1 Timothy 2:1)." A Christian should offer up prayer for his neighbor who has troubles. The believer may also pray for himself as it pertains to spiritual matters and his earthly existence. The General Prayer lists people and causes for which the obedient child of God will send his petitions before the throne of grace;'36

8. The Contents of Christian Prayer

What may be the subject of the Christian's prayers? Christ answered: "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them (Mark 11:24)." Paul encouraged the Philippian congregation: "Be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Phil. 4:6)." Koehler observed: "No matter, what may trouble and oppress us, we should not give way to anxious worry, but take it to the Lord in prayer. In 'everything,' things great and small, personal or general, temporal or spiritual, make your requests known to God." However, it would be wrong to ask for things which are sinful and are not in harmony with God's will. As already stated, Christian's prayers must be in harmony with the will of God, for the apostle John wrote: "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 6:14). It is God's will that Christians should ask for spiritual blessings (Luke 11:13). In a general way believers may request those things necessary for their temporal existence as we do in the Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer.

9. Prayer Exists in Many Kinds and Forms

Prayer has been expressed in many kinds and forms. It is interesting and instructive to note the different terminology employed by the holy writers in their discussion of the topic of prayer.37 In the Old Testament the word tephilah is of frequent occurrence and chiefly refers to calling upon God, but also involves making intercession for someone. As a heading it occurs in Psalms 17, 86,102 and 142, also in Habakkuk chapter 3 (actually a psalm.) The word sheelah is employed for prayer in general, the word todah is used of special prayers of thanksgiving. However, there are many divisions, subdivisions of prayer, as various psalms clearly show. In the New Testament, St. Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1 indicates a number of different kinds of prayer: "I exhort therefore that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men." This directive clearly shows that the Christians, the children of God, in observing the demands of the Second Commandment are required to bring their needs and their desires to the attention of the Heavenly Father, that they are to be in constant communication with Him.

10. The Old Testament Prayer Book

The Book of Psalms has been termed the "Prayer Book of the Old Testament." For over two thousands years The Old and New Testament believers have used the 150 poems of the Psalter as prayers.38 In the Psalms one finds reflected all possible types of prayer. Thus there are psalms of confession of sins, laments by the individual, laments for the nation, intercessions for help, praise and thanksgiving. Moorehead has asserted about the Psalms: "The Psalms are a remarkably fruitful of experience. It would seem as if the Spirit of God had gathered together into these one hundred and fifty lyrics all the varied experiences of soul of which the redeemed have knowledge in the world. There is no state or exigency, no circumstance or act, set of circumstances of whatsoever, prosperous and adverse, bad and good, near and remote, but it may find a faithful expression in this inimitable book. Here is mirrored all that the saint desires and seeks, loves and hates."39

11. Prayer in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament beginning with Genesis there are depictions of God's children having personal intercourse with a powerful and holy God. With God, in proportion as a man was surrendered to Him, fellowship was the blessing of the covenant (Ex. 24:11).40 Schultz summarized the blessing of the covenant like this: "In a word, they enjoy, in living communion with God, the highest and truest happiness man can enjoy—a happiness greater and more needful far than—any that earth can give."41 In Genesis 5:22 it is stated that Enoch walked with God and later did not taste death. The earliest group fellowship is given in Genesis 4:26: "Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord." With Abraham and Isaac in the patriarchal period came the beginnings of the doctrine of prayer (Gen. 29:17; 25:21). Similarly related to prayer were Abraham's intercessions with the Lord on behalf of Sodom (Gen. 18:25-32). Eliezer went to find a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24:12-18; 22-24) he uttered the first prayer set down in the Bible. It was described as being a conversation with God and taking place in the heart (Gen. 24:45). Jacob's urgent plea, spoken before his meeting with Esau about 1909 B.C. was brief but gives an inspired pattern for believing prayer.42

The first set prayers are found in the Mosaic legislation and are the following: Numbers 10:35,36, Psalm 68:1, which lists two sets of invocations for the journey of the ark. Deut. 21:7,8 records a prayer for community atonement. Deut. 28:5-10 gives the prayer to be spoken at the offering of the first fruits at the presentation of the third-year tithes.

The Old Testament gives two examples of believers who were weighty in intercessory prayer (Jeremiah 15:1). The first concerned Moses (Ex. 32:32), when the latter was willing to be blotted out of God's book in order to save the life of the idolatrous Israelites. For as God's Word declares that God would destroy them; if had not Moses stood before Him in the breach to turn away His wrath (Psalm 196:23). The second example was the judge Samuel whose prayer for Israel is written down in 1 Samuel 7:8,12,19. Amos' petition in the eighth century B.C. was of similar import (Amos 7:2,5). Jeremiah in the seventh century B.C. was warned not to pray for his hopelessly apostate people (Jer. 16:11,14; 14:11). During the Exile Ezekiel was told that the greatest of God's saint, past or present, could accomplish their own deliverance but not that of anyone else (Ezekiel 14:14-26).

The Old Testament shows that fellowship with God, however, carried with it the promise of answered prayer. 1 Chronicles 4:10 states that God answered Jabez' prayer. The Lord responded to His people's request for the birth of children (Gen. 25:21, cf. 1 Sam. 1:11). When Israel fell out of fellowship with God, they discovered that He refused to listen to their pleas (Deut. 1:45). Moses' prayer to be allowed to enter Canaan was rejected because of Israel's great leader's sin (Deut. 3:25) When Saul was confronted by the Philistines at the battle of Gilboa (1 Sam. 28:6) God refused to answer Saul's request. David's first child by Bathsheba was not spared when David asked for the child to be allowed to live (2 Sam. 12:16-18). Solomon in Proverbs 15:8 enunciated a great promise and principle: "The prayer of the righteous is his delight." Solomon at the beginning of his reign asked God for wisdom and it was granted him (1 Kings 3:9). By prayer Elijah raised the dead (1 Kings 3:17:20-21). By prayer he shut up the heavens for three and a half years. Kings Asa and Jehoshaphat were able to win victories by their prayers, who prayed: "Oh our God, we have no might against this great company that comes against us neither know we what to do, but our eyes are upon thee (2 Chron. 20:12; cf. 14:11)." The prophet Isaiah enunciated a moral principle for answered prayer as the following shows: "When you make many prayers, I will not hear you, your hands are full of blood (Is. 1:15; cf. 50:21)." By contrast God said through the same prophet: "Loose the bonds of wickedness and deal your bread to the hungry... Then shall you call and Yahweh will answer you; you shall cry and He will say: Here I am (Is. 58:6,7,9)." King Hezekiah was faithful to the Lord and because of it the Lord delivered him from the siege of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:1,15) and also from his sickness which was to cause his death (20:2,3). By contrast Asa's sickness was great and in his disease he did not ask for help from the Lord, but sought the doctors (2 Chron. 16:12). The prophet Isaiah has one of the most interesting prayers about God answering prayer: "It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear (64:24)."

Concerning the forms of offering prayer, the Old Testament illustrates almost all of the bodily positions that might be taken - whether standing, kneeling or even prostrate.43 An interesting feature of Old Testament prayer was that the fact that the believers directed their prayer toward Jerusalem. David directed his prayers to God's Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Solomon assumed that after the dedication of the Temple, that Jewish believers would direct their prayers to God's permanent sanctuary (1 Kings 8:30,35). Jonah likewise observed this geographical direction (Jonah 2:4,7). Daniel, in the Babylonian exile, faced Jerusalem three times a day when he prayed (Dan. 6:10).

12. What Christ Taught About Prayer

The nature of prayer is seen by studying the Four Gospels to see what Christ did.44 Jesus’ life was one of constant and perfect communion with the Father. The references to His praying are frequent (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16, 6:12; John 11:41,42; Matt. 11:25; John 17:1-26; Matt. 26:36-39; Luke 23:34; Matt. 27:46; Luke 23:46). Not only does the Bible reader find Jesus pronouncing blessing upon the food at the great feedings of the 5,000 and 4,000 reported in the Gospels, but His great Prayer in Gethsemane and on Calvary shows that Christ's relationship with the Father was of an intimate kind. Jesus gave His disciples an example by the fact that He often rested for solitary prayer (cf. Mark 1:35,45; John 6:15). On the evening before His death Jesus uttered the unique and great High Priestly Prayer (John 17).

An example of a true and comprehensive prayer has been presented by Christ in the Lord's Prayer. Stump remarked about it: "It is given as a model not so much of form as of content. It expresses what all His disciples under all circumstances should pray for. It shows the spirit of childlike confidence in which we should approach God. It points out that the things of God - the hallowing of His name, the coming of the kingdom, and the doing of His will - should be our foremost concern for praying. And that upon these petitions there fitly follows petitions for the supply of our own bodily and spiritual wants (Matt. 6:9-13). Because the Lord's Prayer is so all inclusive relative to what is important for the Christian, the latter will add this prayer to their own. Luther in his two catechisms, the Small and the Large, has important discussions on Christ's Lord's prayer."45

Christ brought to perfection the teachings of the Old Testament on prayer, by both precept and practice. He lived in constant communion with His Heavenly Father. He repeatedly emphasized that men ought always to pray and faint not. Christ lived as a man who needed and enjoyed prayer, as He lived so He died with prayer upon His lips.

In the Book of Acts and in the remainder books of the New Testament, prayer played a very important role.46 Throughout the New Testament prayer is seen as the sphere of the congregation (Eph. 5:19-20). After a prayer meeting the church was born at Pentecost. According to Acts 2:42 the Jerusalem congregation met constantly for prayer. Prayers were offered by the believers when the Apostles were persecuted and imprisoned. Prayer led to the vision that the Gospel was also meant for the Gentiles. After fasting and prayer the first missionaries were sent out by the congregation at Antioch. It was at a place of prayer that the Gospel was proclaimed in Europe for the first time. No observant readers of Paul's letter to churches and individuals can fail to notice how much Paul mentions prayer and what an. important role it played in the life of the "apostle to the Gentiles." The first portion of most of the Pauline Epistles has a prayer of thanksgiving.47 The early Christians saw themselves as spiritual priests who could offer the incense of prayer to the Triune God (Heb. 13:15). Paul enjoined Timothy, a coworker, to be engaged in offering: "Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving for all men (1 Tim. 2:1)." Christensen claimed: "The whole portrayal of the church's struggle finds its culmination in the triumphant prayer and worship of the Book of Revelation."48

13. The Manner of Praying

The Christian must be on guard not to engage in endless babble and battologizing by the heathen and by Roman Catholics.49 The Buddhists have their prayer wheels and the Roman Catholics emphasize numerous Lord's Prayers and Hail Mary’s, believing that they shall be heard for their much speaking (Matt. 6:7). Koehler contended that "the value of prayer does not depend upon their number or length nor on the language and grammar we use, but on this that we pray from the heart earnestly and sincerely (Psalm 145:18)."50 True prayer must not be offered from Schleirmacher's "feeling of dependence upon God" or from Ritschl's "faith in the divine presence."51 It is only because of Christ's vicarious satisfaction can Christians really pray with the confidence that God for Christ's sake will answer their prayers.

14. When and Where Prayers Are to Be Offered

The sanctuary or place where prayers are offered does not make individual prayers more acceptable. Paul instructed Timothy on this matter: "I will that men pray everywhere." Effective prayer may be offered in the home, the church, the street, the workplace." Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17)." Christians should not make public show with their prayers as the Pharisees did in the time of Christ. On the Sermon on the Mount Jesus suggested that praying be done in private, at home. Rather than showing off, prayer should be done in secret (Matt. 6:5-6).

Christians should pray together with one another as is done in public worship (Psalm 26:12; Acts 1:14; 2:12). Those who worship other gods than the Triune God and thus adore idols, there should not be joint prayer with Jews, Mohammedans, Buddhists, with lodge members, that deny the Trinity.

While it is good to pray at any time of day or night, its is helpful to observe certain times for prayer. When we arise in the morning, at night when we go to bed, at meal times and at church services are desirable occasions for prayer.

15. Posture in Prayer

The posture should ordinarily be one that indicates a reverent and humble spirit; but the essential thing is that there be reverence and humility in the heart. The Church from the early days sanctioned standing during public prayers on Sunday, because Sunday is a day of rejoicing over the resurrection of Christ. Kneeling was recommended on fast days and days of humiliation.52


16. Ex Corde and Formulated Prayers

Since prayer is the spontaneous expression of the Christian's heart and of his child relationship to God, it is in the very nature of the case that the prayer of the Christian will be a matter of the heart. It will be highly personal prayer in which the believer brings his own individual needs and his own individual thanks to God. Reu believes that the earliest psalms were spontaneous utterances of the heart before they were formulated in written form. However, since the needs of Christians as well as their wants are the same and what other Christians have experienced and written down in a concise and beautiful manner, this can be appropriated by other Christians as found in prayer books. In fact, there is an advantage in the use of formulated prayers as found in prayer books. Since the latter have the special advantage that they will keep the fundamental needs of salvation and the great objective facts of divine grace in the foreground and sometimes petty interests of his own little self and place the prayer in the time with the great congregation of believers. Printed prayers often will lead to more ex corde prayer.53

The Old and New Testaments give many examples of ready-made written prayers. Besides the Book of Psalm there comes to mind the prayer of dedication of the temple by Solomon (1 Kings 8:22-63). In the New Testament the high priestly Prayer of Jesus on Maundy Thursday or the prayers of Paul in a number of his epistles (1 Cor. 1:4-9; Eph. 1:3-14; Phil. 1:2-11).

17. The Biblical Prayers of Great Biblical Characters and of Leaders of Church History

The indispensableness of prayer will be realized when the Christian recalls the outstanding men in the kingdom of God have been fervent in -prayer. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Elijah, Hezekiah, Jesus, Paul, Peter, John and others and after the close of the New Testament canon, church leaders as Chrysostom, Augustine, Luther, some medieval mystics, Starck, George Mueller, of Bristol, Louis Harms of Hermansburg, Walther and a host of others.54

18. Means for the Preservation of the Christian Life

One Lutheran theologian phrased it this way: "Diligent use of the means of grace, constant communion with God in prayer, coupled with incessant watchfulness, those are the means for the preservation of the Christian life. Especially in the hour of temptation they must be used to fight the good fight and attain the victory."55


1.A. Kuyper, Encyclopedia of Sacred Knowledge, 1898, pp. 627-631; Edward A. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), p. 15.

2. Rev. Franklin Weidner, An Introduction to Dogmatic Theology (Rock Island, 111., Augustana Book Concern, 1888. 2nd Edition, p. 32.)

3. Martin Reu, Lutheran Dogmatics (Decorah, Iowa: Wartburg Theological Seminary, 1951) Revised Edition.

4. Joseph Stump, The Christian Life. A System of Christian Dogmatics (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1932).

5. Conrad Lindberg, Christian Dogmatics and Notes of the History of Dogma, English Translation from Swedish by Rev. C. E. Hoffsten, Second Revised edition (Rock Island, III., Augustana Book Concern, 1926),

6. Heihrich Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), Reprint Edition of 1889).

7. E. Hove, Christian Doctrine (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1930).

8. Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of Christian Doctrine (Philadelphia: General Counsel Publication House, 1905), pp. 16, 261-253,289,432,317,291.

9. Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1955), III, pp. 76-89.

10. J. T. Mueller, Christian Dogmatics (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1955), pp. 428-434.

11. Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther (Philadelphia:Fortress Press, 1966, pp. 997,106,119,226,289,291,318,323,333,345-348,375,403.

12. Adoph Hoenecke, Dogmatik (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, II, 274), III. pp. 426-431; 441.

13. J. Oliver Buswell, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1967), 2 volumes. The work has scattered pages alluding to prayers but no separate discussion of prayer.

14. L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: W. B. Erd-mans Publishing Company, 1941).

15. William T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1889), 2 volumes.

15a. Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, Revised and Edited by Ernst Bizet English Translation by G. T. Thomson (London: George Alien & Umwin, 1950).

16. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Philadelphia: Presbyterian of Christian Education, no dates), Book III, Ch. 20.

17. Martin Reu and Paul H. Buehring, The Christian Life, A Handbook of Christian Ethics (Columbus: Wartburg Press, 1935), pp. 175-187.

18. Joseph Stump, The Christian Life. A Handbook of Christian Ethics (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1930), pp. 182-186.

19. Paul Zeiler Strodach, The Church Year (Philadelphia: The • United Luther Publication House, 1924), pp. 166-168.

20. The Lutheran Hymnal (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941), Hymns: Numbers 454-459.

21. C. A. Behnke, "Prayer,".Theodore Laetsch Editor, The Abiding Word (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946), Vol. I, pp. 247-266.

22. "Prayer, The Importance of Prayer to Nearly Everyone," The Reporter, May 1994, p. 12.

23. Pieper, op. cit., Ill, pg. 76-77.

24. Mueller, op. cit., p. 429.

24a. Ibid., p. 428.

25. Raymond F. Surburg, "Do Christian Receive Forgiveness of Sins through Prayer!" Lutheran Education, 91 (1955-56), 167-171.

26. Reu, Christian Ethics, op. cit., p. 175.

27. Stump, The Christian Life, op. cit., p. 182.

28. Reu, Christian Ethics, op.cit., p. 175.

29. As cited by Reu, Ibid., p. 376. For other statements of E.W. Plass, What Luther Says, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), II, 1024-1101.

30. Stump, The Christian Life, op. cit., p. 184.

30a. Ibid.

31. Ibid.

32. Edward A. Koehler, A Summary of Christian Doctrine (Second Edition, prepared by Alfred Koehler, Detroit and Cleveland by L. H. Koehler and Alfred W. Koehler, 1952), pp. 165-170.

33. Mueller, op. cit., p. 430.

34. The Zondervan Expanded Concordance (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1968), cf. idols, idolatry, idolater.

35. "Saints, Worship," Erwin Lueker, The Lutheran Cyclopedia (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1964), p. 940.

36. As found in The Lutheran Hymnal, op. cit., p. 23-24.

37. "Prayer," The Lutheran Cyclopedia, op. cit., p. 835.

38. John H. Walton, Chronological Charts for the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1978), W. Graham Scroggie, Know Your Bible, Volume'1. Analytica; The Old Testament (London: Pickering and Inglis. No date, p. 107.

39. W. C. Moorhead, Outline Studies in the Books of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell and Company, 1896), p. 181.

40. Ibid. J. Barton Payne, The Theology of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1962), p. 421.

41. Herman Schultz, Old Testament Theology (Edinburgh: T. & T. dark, 1902), p. 30.

42. Payne, op. cit., p. 432.

43. Cf. G. T. Lambert, "Prayer," James Orr, Editor, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids: Win. B. Eerdman Publishing Company, 1939), IV, 2430. •

44. Cf. Walton, op. cit., p. 332.

45. Stump, The Christian Life, op. cit., pp. 186-188.

46. Walton, op. cit., p. 37-39.

47. "Prayer in the New Testament," H. W. House, Chronological Charts and Background Charts, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), pp. 38-39. '

48. Christensen, "Prayer," Julius Bodensieck, The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), HI, 1973.

49. Pieper, op. cit., Ill, p. 79.

50. Koehler, op. cit., p. 186.

51. Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, op. cit., p. 429.

52. Stump, The Christian Life, op. cit., p. 186.

53. Johann Michael Reu in Conjunction with Paul H. Buering, Christian Ethics (Columbus: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1936), p. 186.

54. "Prayer," The Lutheran Cyclopedia, 1964, 836.

55. Reu-Buehring, op. cit., p. 187.



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