The first Christians “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Could anything be a more natural means of expressing God’s greatness than prayer? Let’s review some basics.

Prayer is the verbal expression of one’s heart to God (Romans 10:1). There are different kinds of prayers. 1 Timothy 2:1 mentions supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving. Whether it is a word of praise, a request for self or others, a confession of wrong and asking for forgiveness, or an expression of thanksgiving, proper prayer is one’s heartfelt appeal to his heavenly Father. Philippians 4:6 urges, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

While no formal language or specific formula is required, the Bible has a good bit to say about how to pray.

We are to pray through Jesus. He is our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). Praying “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17) acknowledges that fact.

We are to pray in faith (James 5:1-8), that is, in confidence that God will properly respond. We can have faith both in His power and His wisdom, even though we do not always know how He will combine the two in response to our request.

We are to pray fervently (James 5:16-18). Prayer must  never lapse into a mere recitation.

We are to pray persistently. Jesus said we are to pray at all times and not lose heart (Luke 18:1-8). As Paul put it, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

We are to pray humbly. Jesus picturesquely made this point in His parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).

We are to pray according to God’s will (1 John 5:14).  Do not ask God to go against Scripture standards. Do be willing to accept and follow wherever His will leads. Pray as Jesus prayed in the garden: “yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42b).

“Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (1 Timothy 2:8). Lifting up hands is just one prayer posture mentioned in Scripture. Others include standing, bowing, kneeling, falling down, etc. The posture of the heart is more critical. It is to be a heart devoted to the Father, demonstrated in godly living that is enacted by “holy hands.”

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