How Do We Pray?

From the editor's desk, we ask how we are to pray to our Father above.

R.A.A. is editor of the Ministry

Prayer is the greatest power on earth. And yet we seem to see so little evidence of that power at times. What is the reason? It is not because we do not pray. Prayer is part of our very lives. We pray at home and we pray in church. Each Sabbath wor­ship service there are at least four congrega­tional prayers, to say nothing of the Sab­bath school and other meetings. Yes, we pray; but how do we pray?

The chief objective of prayer is to reach God. And yet we are told, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss" (James 4:3). While this statement refers primar­ily to those whose hearts are unholy, yet even those who seek to honor the Lord may be guilty of approaching Him amiss. God has emphasized again and again the ap­pointed way of our approach. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each con­cerned in our prayers. The Father loves to hear our cry. The Son, by His atoning death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His priestly ministry, has provided access to the throne. And it is the Spirit who prompts all true prayer; He helps our in­firmities. Only as we are led by the Spirit can we pray effectually.

In this dispensation the foundation of successful prayer is the all-prevailing name of Jesus Christ. To be acceptable, prayer must be offered in His name (John 14:13, 14; 15:16). Do we sense this as we ought? Again and again we hear prayers directed to the Father, and then the petitioner will close with an expression something like this: "All this we ask in Thy name." Now in whose name? All the way through the prayer no mention has been made of our Lord's atoning death or His victory over the grave, through which alone we have access to the throne of God.

To address the prayer to the Father is correct, but should it be offered in the Fa­ther's name? Of course we say No. But as we listen to and join in prayer with groups many times a day, there is a growing tend­ency, even among ministers, to by-pass the name of Jesus, despite the fact that our Lord has told us plainly, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

To overlook making our requests in His all-prevailing name might seem to deny His mediation and the advocacy of the only One whose sacrifice makes possible our ac­cess to the throne. No one would wilfully by-pass the Saviour; it is doubtless done un­wittingly. But prayer is so vital that we dare not grow careless in this respect. Let­ters wrongly addressed ultimately reach the dead letter office. We trust there is no such place as a dead prayer office.

Apart from Jesus Christ we have no standing with Deity; we are spiritually bankrupt. Both the sinner and the saint des­perately need the bounty of our Father above. But if we would draw on that heav­enly bounty, we must present our requests in the peerless name of Jesus.

Old Testament saints made their suppli­cation in the strong name of Jehovah. "Save me, 0 God, by thy name," cried King David (Ps. 54:1). And again: "0 magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together" (Ps. 34:3). Yes, "the name of the Lord" has ever been "a strong tower" (Pray. 18:10).

Since the cross, however, a change has come, for redemption no longer rests in hope. It is a glorious certainty. Even the planet itself stands in a different relation­ship to God than it did before our Lord's sacrifice. He came to seek and to save that which was lost, not only those who are lost. Since the cross, the world itself has been different. It has been reconciled to God by the death of His Son. And since the cross, prayer too is different. Our Lord taught us to pray in a new way. Our re­quests are to be made in the name of our crucified and risen Lord. Just as there were seven words at the cross, so our Lord spoke seven words concerning prayer as He com­muned with His disciples in the upper room. These are found in John 14:13, 14; 15:7, 16; 16:22-26, and each is an extraor­dinary promise. Taken together they abound in universal and unconditional terms. And prayer, when offered in accord­ance with these principles, lifts the petitioner into unity and identity with the Lord Himself. To offer our petitions in that name is to be one with Christ.

In the Apocalypse our great High Priest is represented as taking our poor prayers and adding to them the fire of the altar, thus making them dynamic. And God an­swers them, not for our poor sake, but for His sake. We are heard, not because of our phrasing, our weeping, our "storming the gates of heaven," much less for our good works or our self-denials, but for His sake who makes our prayers His own.

Samuel Chadwick, the great Methodist preacher and educator of Leeds, illustrates this thought by relating a personal expe­rience. A certain man came a long way to investigate a proposition. He wrote to the firm in advance, requesting an interview, but his request was politely declined. He went in person to the manager, but could not get beyond the secretary. No argument could prevail. He confided his defeat and disappointment to a friend, who in turn told the preacher. "I gave him my card and wrote to the head of the firm," said Dr. Chadwick. Next day this man called again and was immediately ushered into the pres­ence of the manager. "The head of the firm saw me in him," is the way the preacher explains it. And then he draws the lesson: "In some such way we pray in Christ's name. He endorses our petitions and makes our prayers His own." But we must make our requests through Him.

"The Father hears Him pray,

His dear, anointed One;

He cannot turn away

The presence of His Son;

The Spirit answers to the blood,

And tells me I'm a child of God."


To pray in the name of Jesus is perhaps the deepest mystery of prayer. His name ex­presses His personality, His character, and His being, while it unifies and simplifies any divine condition. Then let us take heed lest we by-pass our Lord and dishonor that name which is above every name.

R. A. A.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

R.A.A. is editor of the Ministry

August 1956

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Why Men Come

Why do men seek Christ?

Faithfulness in the Closing Work

Address given at General Conference morning worship dur­ing the 1956 Spring Council.

Significant Contacts by Seminary Faculty Members

From the recent Conference on Marriage and the Family.

The Pulse of the Church

How to Improve Attendance at Prayer Meeting.

Ministering to the Sick and Bereaved

This material was presented at a regular meeting of the Yakima Valley Chapter of CME Alumni, Sunnyside, Wash­ington.—EDITORS.

Characteristics of the Pastor-Counselor

The pastor-counselor will never make any counselee feel that the problem he wishes to discuss is too trivial for his attention.

General Semantics and the Pastor

Part II of why pastors should study words.

New Roadside Church Sign

The new Seventh-day Adventist roadside sign now being made available to all our churches had its beginning at the Ministerial Council in San Francisco in 1954. The council's recommendation has resulted in this simple but effective marker.

The Foundation of the Adventist Faith

Do we ground our beliefs in revelation or experience?

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - IIW-VBS 2024 (160x600)