This question might seem unnecessary, nevertheless, I am convinced that it is worth asking. We are influenced by what our parents told us, by teachings of the denominations we have adhered to, we are affected by films and books, simply by human teachings. And it is very easy to lose one’s bearings is such a deluge of information. As usual, I suggest seeking the answer in the Bible, which is the only book bearing the stamp of “God’s word”.
At the first sight it might seem that the criterion of what is right is effectiveness. Just whether “it works” or not. However, this is not the right way of thinking. We live amidst the spiritual world inhabited not only by God and His obedient angels but also by Satan and those corrupted by him. Judging things only by their effectiveness can easily lead us astray. Often we won’t understand why something “works”, nevertheless, we need to ask God whether it is His doing and His will. I was involved in occult practices for some time and they really “worked”. I had extraordinary abilities, but they didn’t originated in God, rather in demons. I repeat again: We need to know the truth – God’s view of the matter!
Deuteronomy 32, 16-18: They moved him to jealousy with strange gods; With abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto demons, which were no God, To gods that they knew not, To new gods that came up of late, Which your fathers dreaded not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, And hast forgotten God that gave thee birth.
Here we can see that if we are turning to anybody else than God, we are offending God. He is the one who created us, who gave us life and, as the Bible says, He is a jealous God:
Deuteronomy 6, 14-15: Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples that are round about you; for Jehovah thy God in the midst of thee is a jealous God; lest the anger of Jehovah thy God be kindled against thee, and he destroy thee from off the face of the earth.
Deuteronomy 5, 6-10: I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I, Jehovah, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing lovingkindness unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
God strictly forbade people from creating any likeness of Him, let alone of anybody or anything to turn to them for help.
Not even a portrait of Jesus came down to us (probably quite intentionally). It was so that people wouldn’t make a carving, sculpture or picture to pray to. Obviously, it was not enough. So we now have many churches, chapels, wayside shrines and homes having images and sculptures not only of Jesus of Nazareth but also of a lot of various people.
Deuteronomy 7, 26: And thou shalt not bring an abomination into thy house, and become a devoted thing like unto it: thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a devoted thing.
We are seriously warned not to make any likenesses and not to turn to them in prayer. Otherwise we get cursed....
If you read through the old covenant (Old Testament, the part of the Bible originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic), you will find that all prayers should be addressed only to God - Yehowah (יהוה). Addressing anybody else in prayer would amount to idolatry.
Well, what about the time of the new covenant (New Testament)? Has anything changed? Let’s look into the Bible, what Jesus said:
Matthew 6, 5-13: And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee. And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
The above-mentioned verses show us several things:
1) The cornerstone of our prayer life should be personal prayers in private.
2) We shouldn’t rely on that our prayers will be heard better if they are long and repetitive.
3) As within the term of the old covenant, we are to pray to God – Yehowah (יהוה), who we are allowed to call “Father”.
Jesus did not only talked about it, he lived according to it. He would leave for wilderness to pray (talk to God) in private, addressing Him “Father”.
Matthew 14, 23: And after he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain apart to pray: and when even was come, he was there alone.
Mark 1, 35: And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose up and went out, and departed into a desert place, and there prayed.
Luke 5, 16: But he withdrew himself in the deserts, and prayed.
Matthew 26, 39: And he went forward a little, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Let’s look at some other examples as to how and to whom we should pray:
John 16, 23-27: And in that day ye shall ask me no question. Verily, verily, I say unto you, if ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full. These things have I spoken unto you in dark sayings: the hour cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in dark sayings, but shall tell you plainly of the Father. In that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father.
Can you see? Jesus repeats for several times that we should pray in his name to God, our heavenly Father.
Philippians 4, 6-7: In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
Romans 15, 30: Now I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;
Philemon 1, 4-5: I thank my God always, making mention of thee in my prayers, hearing of thy love, and of the faith which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints;
1 Thessalonians 1, 2-3: We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father;
From verses 2Co 12, 7-9 can be judged that in this case Paul asked Jesus for help:
2 Corinthians 12, 7-9: And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
The conclusion is yours. Judge for yourself whether your “prayer life” is all right...
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