Practicalities of prayer

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Scripture commends a life of prayer, characterised by simplicity of expression, sincerity of heart and trust in the promises of God. It gives guidance on how, when and where to pray.

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Scripture stresses the importance of prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 ESV
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
See also Ac 6:3–4; Ro 12:12

Judgment comes on those who do not pray

Psalm 79:6 ESV
Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name!
See also Ps 53:4; Je 10:21; Zep 1:4–6; Jas 4:2

Prayers should be expressed simply

Matthew 6:7–8 ESV
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
See also Ec 5:1–3; Lk 18:9–14

Prayer should not be ostentatious

Matthew 6:5–6 ESV
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
See also Mt 14:23; Lk 5:16

Physical positions for prayer

Sitting while praying

2 Samuel 7:18 ESV
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?
See also Jdg 20:26; Ne 1:4

Kneeling while praying

Luke 22:41 ESV
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,
See also 1 Ki 8:54; 2 Ch 6:13; Ezr 9:5; Ac 9:40; Ac 21:5; Eph 3:14

Standing while praying

1 Kings 8:22 ESV
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven,
See also 1 Sa 1:26; Mk 11:25

Lying prostrate while praying

2 Chronicles 20:18 ESV
Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.
See also Ge 24:52; Nu 20:6

Praying with arms outstretched

Ex 9:29; Is 1:15
See also 1 Ki 8:54; 2 Ch 6:13

Praying with hands raised

1 Timothy 2:8 ESV
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
See also Ex 9:29; 1 Ki 8:22; 1 Ki 8:54; Ps 63:4; Ps 77:1–2

Prayer can be offered at any time

Praying several times a day

Daniel 6:10 ESV
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
See also Ps 55:17; Ps 88:1

Praying early in the morning

Mark 1:35 ESV
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
See also Ps 5:3; Ps 119:147

Praying all night

Luke 6:12 ESV
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
See also 1 Sa 15:11; Lk 2:37

Prayer is not confined to any single place

John 4:21–24 ESV
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Praying inside a building

Da 6:10; Mt 6:6
See also 1 Ki 8:28–30

Praying outside a building

Mk 1:35; Lk 5:16
See also Ac 10:9; Ac 21:5

Prayer may be accompanied by fasting

Acts 13:2–3 ESV
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
See also Ezr 8:23; Ne 1:4; Ps 35:13; Da 9:3; Lk 2:37; Lk 5:33; Ac 14:23; Mt 17:21
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