There are few subjects closer to the Christian’s heart than that of prayer. In times of distress it is his lifeline. In times of joy it enables him to share that joy with his heavenly Father. In times of confusion it opens the way to clarity. In times of sin it is the means to forgiveness. And, in all things, it is the approach to God to thank him for all of life’s daily leadings, the sorrowful as well as the joyous.
Nine articles in this issue, plus The Question Box, examine various aspects of this topic. Obviously the amount of material on prayer in the Bible, both by example and by exhortation, is far more vast than can be covered in one issue of a magazine. Because of this the articles cover the broad scope of the subject and are not meant to be exhaustive.
Two articles deal with the subject in general. Both Study and Prayer and the Echoes from the Past feature, Prayer and Privilege by the late Bro. Irwin Doran, point to both the privilege and the responsibility of prayer. The relationship between study and prayer is particularly highlighted in the first of these articles. A large collection of Bible texts on the subject are arranged in topical order in a study done in 1916 by the late Daniel Toole.
Prayer was a habit for all of God’s holy ones. Daniel prayed three times daily (Dan. 6:10). Many of David’s psalms are prayers. These ancients lived close to God and they and kept their lines of communication open. Two treatises in this issue deal with specific Old Testament prayers. The Prayer of Jabez is one of the shortest recorded in the Bible, and it is offered by a virtually unknown character; yet it contains insights that are still relevant today into God’s character and on the subject of prayer. The better known prophet, Jonah, offered his petition in the most unlikely of places, within a great fish. By God’s intervention he was transported back to Jewish shores, after being thrown overboard in the Mediterranean. He was then to go and preach repentance to the heathen of Nineveh.
No life of prayer was more exemplary or constant than that of Jesus of Nazareth. The article Portraits of Jesus Praying gives a thumbnail sketch of many of these private communications, inspiring us to want to develop the same kind of intimacy with the Father so repetitively illustrated in the life of Christ.
While striving to remain separate from the political processes of the world around us, the Christian is exhorted in the Bible to pray for those in authority. The content of these prayers is treated in the article Praying for Governments.
The last two articles in this series deal with specific types of prayer, both intercessory. Prayer Partners is a verse by verse study in James 5 and considers the matter of intercessory prayer for our brethren in depression and weakness; Pray for the Intercession of the Spirit examines prayers for personal intercession by our Advocate.