Prayer - A Ritual?
This booklet is written with the idea of providing a means to get started in this study. It is by no means an effort to answer every question or give you all the proof you need. To truly understand, you need to do some research on your own. Most of the Scriptures quoted are from The Interlinear Bible, by Jay P. Green, Sr., as general editor and translator.
When it comes to religion, prayer is one thing that comes to mind. But there are so many different beliefs and manners regarding it today. Just watch the television channels. You will see some churches where people simply call out the name of "Jesus" repeatedly, with tears rolling down their faces. Some will pray in their own words, out loud, all at the same time, causing nothing but confusion. Other churches may do it in a more subdued manner, all reciting the same words at the same time. In Tibet, the people attach written prayers to prayer wheels and spin them. It makes noise, alerting the one being prayed to that prayers are being made and to pay attention. The Jews, rocking back and forth, pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, reading the prayers out of their prayer book. They often write down their requests and put the small pieces of paper in the cracks between the rocks of the wall. Which of these are right? Are all of them? Or none of them? How and when should prayer be done? As a daily ritual, at prescribed times, with specific words already laid out? Any time you choose? Should it be done as part of a group or alone? Why do people pray?
According to Webster's Columbia Concise Dictionary, to pray means "to ask something with earnestness or zeal; to supplicate; to beg; to make petition to the Supreme Being; to address the Supreme Being with confession of sins and supplication for benefits."
From The Oxford Companion to the Bible, edited by Bruce M Metzger and Michael D Coogan, pages 606-607 -
"Prayer - The Bible both talks about prayer and gives the texts of specific prayers to God. Underlying the biblical story is the conviction, so fundamental that it rarely needs to be voiced explicitly, that it is both possible and desirable for humans to address the Divine and that the Divine both can and will respond. Indeed the God of the Bible is characterized as 'you who answer prayer' (Ps 65:2; cf I Kings 9:3; Matt 7:11).
"Both prayer and sacrifice are understood in the Bible as service rendered to God as king. It is debated whether set words of prayer may have accompanied sacrifice in the Temple, certainly no such texts have been preserved.
"Little is known about origin of the practice of set statutory prayers for the community (particularly for morning and evening), although the process certainly began in the postexilic period.
From The Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, Sr., editor, pages 866-867 -
"Prayer - communication with God. Because God is personal, all people can offer prayers.
"Prayer cannot be replaced by devout good works in a needy world. Important as service to others is, at times we must turn away from it to God, who is distinct from all things and over all things. Neither should prayer be thought of as a mystical experience in which people lose their identity in the infinite reality.
"Prayer involves several important aspects -
- Faith - the most meaningful prayer comes from a heart that places its trust in the God who has acted and spoken in the Jesus of history and the teachings of the Bible.
- Worship - in worship we recognize what is of highest worth - not ourselves, others, or our work, but God.
- Confession - awareness of God's holiness leads to consciousness of our own sinfulness. We must confess our sins to God to get right with Him. We need not confess them to another being.
- Adoration - God is love, and He has demonstrated His love in the gift of His Son. People sometimes find it difficult to say to others and to God, 'I love you.' But when love for God fills our lives, we will express our love in prayer to the one who is ultimately responsible for all that we are.
- Praise - the natural outgrowth of faith, worship, confession, and adoration is praise.
- Thanksgiving - God has been at work on our behalf in countless ways. So in everything, even for the discipline that is unpleasant, we give thanks.
- Dedicated Action - authentic prayer will be the source of courage and productivity, as it was for the prophets and apostles.
- Request - prayer is not only response to God's grace as brought to us in the life and work of Jesus and the teaching of Scripture; it is also request for our needs and the needs of others.
"Prayer is a request to a personal Lord who answers as He knows best. We should not think that we will always have success in obtaining the things for which we ask. In His wisdom, God hears and answers in the way that is best.
"Effectiveness - prayers has power over everything."
From Sacred Origins of Profound Things, by Charles Panati -
From page 4 -
"Prayer is one of the most ancient expressions of religion, cherished in all cultures throughout recorded time. It is a human act of communication with the sacred or holy - with God, or with gods or goddesses, or with any transcendent realm.
"Recited either sitting or standing, kneeling or swaying, skull bare or cloaked, eyes closed or cast heavenward, palms joined or arms extended skyward, prayer is divided by theologians into five categories that have existed since primitive times: Adoration, confession, petition, praise and thanksgiving."
From page 9-13 -
"Hand gestures, body postures, and dance steps of all kinds have long been part of the religious expression accompanying prayer. The intentions of some of these acts are obvious; others spring from superstitions.
"For our ancestors, one of the most ancient and reverential gestures that accompanied prayer was the spreading heavenward of arms and hands, as if to collect a shower of gifts.
"The familiar practice 'of palms and fingers joined in a kind of steeple' is mentioned nowhere in the Bible. It appeared in the Christian Church only in the ninth century.
"Religious historians trace the gesture back to the act of shackling a prisoner's hands with vine or rope; joined hands came to symbolize a man's submission to his master.
"Swaying the body back and forth is an ancient Hebrew custom, with one explanation for its origin found in the Zohar, a mystical commentary on the Five Books of Moses, or the Pentateuch, begun in the second century CE by scholar Rabbi Simon bar Yochai. A humble person, as depicted in Proverbs 20:27, is a 'candle of the Lord,' the light of whose wick flickers harmoniously with the glow from the Torah.
"Modern psychologists offer a simpler explanation for rhythmic body movement during prayer - a sort of dance still found among primitive tribes; the poetic meter of prayer, or chant, invites the body to beat time through repetitive motion. Swaying and bobbing are thus viewed as ritual dance pared down to minimal movement.
"The bowed head in prayer has for centuries been a symbol of humility, a pagan posture originating in the earliest days of religion, when earthly kings claimed divine lineage and demanded shows of subservience.
"Waving hands in the air is a devotional practice mentioned in the Jewish Talmud, and it is among the oldest gestures employed to scare off evil spirits. It harks back to such other ancient pagan good luck gestures as crossed fingers and 'thumbs up'.
"The kneeling stance during prayer is a sign of servitude.
"In the Temples of Jerusalem, kneeling was an integral part of ceremonies. But when Christians adopted kneeling as a prayer posture, rabbis prohibited it in Jewish worship.
"The act of praying with eyes closed may have one of the simplest and least superstitious of all explanations: to shut out distractions. The custom is ancient and found in all faiths.
From page 42 -
"The practice of reciting prayers on a string of knots, or knotted string, goes back to the Indic priests of the Middle East prior to 500 BCE. It also developed in the Western world before the dawn of Christianity, and for a very practical reason.
"In many early religious, the frequent repetition of a prayer was believed to increase its efficacy. A petition to a god droned one hundred times - say, for deliverance from a plague - stood a better chance of being answered than one only recited once. Many religions prescribed the exact number of repetitions of a specific prayer, to achieve a desired end.
"To keep tally and pray simultaneously, counting on one's fingers, was impossible; assistance was required. This device is referred to in Sanskrit as the 'remembrancer,' and in Eastern languages as the calculus and the numeralia, both 'counting' terms."
From Unger's Bible Dictionary, by Merrill F. Unger -
From pages 878-879 -
"Prayer, constituting as it does the most direct expression of religious feeling and consciousness, has been, from the very first, the principal means by which men, created in the image of God, have evinced their attitude toward him; and from the earliest times, ever since in the days of Enoch men began to call upon the name of the Lord, it has formed an integral part of the public worship of God.
"The law did not prescribe any prayer for public worship, except the confession of sin on the great day of atonement, and the thanksgiving on the occasion of the offering of the firstlings and tithes.
"After the sacrificial worship was discontinued prayer came entirely to occupy the place of sacrifice. Very minute regulations regarding the order and the different sorts of prayer, as well as the outward posture, are given in the Talmud. The ancient rabbis and their followers regarded the wearing of phylacteries as essential to prayer."
From page 665 -
"The Lord's Prayer - there is no doubt that this prayer, so universally recited and often sentimentally entrenched in human affections because of childhood training, was nevertheless evidently not intended as a ritual prayer for this age. Its petitions, however, are remarkably comprehensive and it has served as a vehicle of blessing for countless millions. The prayer is not given as a set form which is to be slavishly followed, but rather as setting forth the general sentiments and desires which are acceptable to Him whom we address in prayer."
From The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, volume 4, page 2430 -
"Prayer - the Law has remarkably little to say on the subject, differing here from the later Judaism; while it confirms the association of prayer with sacrifices, which now appear, however, not as gifts in anticipation of benefits to follow, but as expiations of guilt or thank offerings for past mercies."
From Journey Through Judaism, edited by Alan D Bennett, from page 123 -
"The siddur, prayer book, is the fruit of a dynamic process. In fact, it was not until the ninth century that a seder, fixed order, of prayers appeared.
"Because the siddur embodies customs long established, Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews have their own siddurim.
"In fact, the earliest known comprehensive collection of Jewish prayers was not compiled until the ninth century. Thus, the first real written siddur is only about 1,100 years old.
"The early rabbis (in the first two centuries of the Common Era) worried about reconciling two conflicting requirements of worship services. On the one hand, they knew true worship demanded the spontaneous outpouring of the human heart. Praying could not be mechanical, else worship would deteriorate into mere words, empty of emotion and sincerity. On the other hand, the rabbis realized that a gathering of individuals, each praying in a different way, is not a community. Therefore, some regulations were necessary to harness absolute freedom in praying.
"The blueprint of the rabbis supplied the 'order' of the daily worship service. They designated certain Torah portions that had to be read and they established various basic themes that had to be expressed in the prayers of the congregation. This daily service, in return, was expanded or otherwise altered to form the structure of the prayer service for the Shabbat and the Festivals."
From A Rabbinic Anthology, by C G Montefiore and H Loewe -
From pages 349-350 -
"The leader in prayer had to mention certain subjects in a certain order, but the formulation was left to him. Some phrases were regarded as essential, thus 'the great, the mighty and the awful God', for which there was Mosaic authority. Exaggerated adjectives were deprecated. In this way, the services tended to acquire stability without the sacrifice of spontaneity. The writing down of blessings was also deprecated, it was tantamount to 'burning the Torah'. But in course of time this step was inevitable. According to Tanh., Shemot, 2, 21b, the Men of the Great Synagogue expanded existing benedictions, and the context, especially their association with the passage cited from Nehemiah, suggests that the Men of the Great Synagogue and the prototypes of the benedictions were of early date. The writing down of the Mishnah involved the writing down of the Blessings, and to a large extent stabilized the liturgy. But the final state - initial, when viewed from another standpoint - belongs to the Geonic Age, with the prayer books of Amram and others."
From page 355 -
"Returning to prayer, there are many rules about it, partly because the Rabbis, unfortunately, could not help making rules and fine distinctions about everything, partly because by prayer they often mean statutory prayer - the fixed prayers which a pious Jew is bound, or ordered, or expected to repeat two or three times a day."
From Jewish Liturgy, by Ismar Elbogen -
From page 6 -
The benediction has a fixed form, which is called 'the formula of the benedictions' (Y. Ber. 1:8, 3d). It was modeled on the many expressions of praise in the Psalms, and especially on the doxologies at the end of the books of Psalms (Psa. 41:14; 72:18, etc). The first of the amoraim (third century C.E.) established rules for the formulation of the benediction, ordaining that each one must include the mention of God's name, while some added that it must also mention God's kingdom. In this way, the form for the opening of the benediction that is familiar today came into being: 'Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe…'"
From page 7 -
"Collections of prayers are a relatively late phenomenon in Judaism, originally the dominant view was that it is forbidden to reduce the prayers to writing, and that 'those who write benedictions are like those who burn the Torah' (T. Shab. 14:4). Only after the close of the Talmud, when necessity compelled that the other parts of the Oral Law be written down, were the prayers also reduced to writing, and only after the sixth century were collections of prayers compiled."
From page 10 -
"The sources for the history of prayer are meager. From the ancient period no prayers have been preserved in writing, and the oldest extant collections of prayers have come down to us only in the late reworking, none earlier than the twelfth century. For the most ancient period, we are dependent on scattered data in the two Talmuds, the midrashim, and their commentators; in the responsa literature; and in works on synagogal institutions."
From Jewish Liturgy - by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin -
From page 643 -
"Jewish law prefers that Jews pray communally rather than privately. For one thing, the rabbis apparently felt that public prayers are more apt to be offered for that which benefits the entire community, whereas individuals often pray for that which benefits only themselves, even if it be at the expense of someone else.
"In traditional Jewish law, the minimum number necessary to form a community is ten adult males, a group known as a minyan. If ten men are not present, many of the important prayers in the service - the Kaddish, the reading of the Torah, and the Barkhu - cannot be recited."
From page 649 -
"The word siddur is usually translated as 'prayerbook,' though 'arranged in order' probably comes closer to expressing what the Hebrew term means. What is arranged in order is a large collection of disparate Jewish writings written over more than two thousand years. Many of the oldest prayers come from the Psalms, some from the rabbinic period of the Talmud (about two thousand years ago), while others were composed during the Middle Ages."
"Therefore, you should pray this way: Our Father in heaven, let be sanctified your name."
"Let your kingdom come; let your will be done, as in heaven, also on earth."
"Give us today our daily bread."
"And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors."
"And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory to forever. Amen."
Yahshua didn't mean that we simply repeat these words over and over and that would be all that would be necessary. He meant for us to use it as an outline; as a guide. How? By giving us certain attitudes and ideas to include in our prayers.
- We are to acknowledge Yahweh as our Father and that He exists in heaven above. But He is not just the "Supreme Being" as the dictionary says, but our Father. There is to be a family relationship there.
- We are to acknowledge and respect and praise His name. How can we do that if we do not know and/or use the name? Or if we reject it and claim it is not necessary to use His name because "we speak English, not Hebrew"?
- Let Him know that you are eager to be a part of His kingdom and family. But remember, with that, you acknowledge that you are willing to submit to Him and will be subject to His will.
- Acknowledge Him as the provider of all food; the One who brings rain in due season so the grains and other plants can grow to produce the food that mankind needs. Without Him sustaining this world, the weather patterns, etc, there would be nothing for us to eat. Thank Him for it.
- Admit your mistakes and sins and repent of them. That means we must know His ways and His torah so we will know what we have done wrong. But in order to receive His forgiveness, we must ask for it.
- Forgiveness is somewhat conditional - we must first be willing to forgive others.
- We know that Yahweh does not tempt any man (James 1:13), but He will allow us to be tempted by Satan and/or other outside influences. We need to ask Yahweh to have His spirit guide and lead us. Then we must listen to His leading through our conscience.
- Acknowledge there is evil all around us. Ask for help to recognize the danger signals and help to be delivered from them. It also includes using the wisdom not to go to the places where we know the evil is present and could influence us.
I Thessalonians 5:22
"Keep back from every form of evil."
- Acknowledge that Yahweh alone has authority over all things and power over all things - forever.
- Acknowledge that the glory and honor are His - for eternity.
Yahshua told His followers that Yahweh has promised to give whatever they asked, in Yahshua's name.
"And in that day you will ask me nothing; truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give you."
"Until now you asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, so that your joy may be full."
"Therefore I say to you, all things, whatever you ask, praying, believe that you will receive, and it will be to you."
Some people get upset because they did not get what they asked for. But there is a limit - what did they ask for? Was it something that would be bad or that might be wrong? Such as wanting a particular person even though that person is married? Or desiring something that belongs to another? Or wanting something at the cost of someone else? Or wishing bad or evil on another person? No. We are not to ask for things that are contrary to His law. We are to be following His torah and be living the style of life that pleases Him. Our requests must be in accordance with His will and His laws.
I John 3:22
"And whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments, and we do the things pleasing before Him."
I John 5:14
"And this is the confidence we have toward Him; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
Pray When, Where And How?
How often should we pray? There is no set number of times or time limits. Though different religions set specific times for prayer, there are no direct instructions in the scriptures. But there are some examples. Look at David and Daniel.
"Evening and morning, and at noon, I will complain and cry aloud; and He shall hear my voice."
"And when he had learned that the document was signed, Daniel went to his house; and his windows were open in his roof-room toward Jerusalem; and he knelt on his knees three times in the day, and prayed and praised before his El, as he did before."
How many times a day or how often you pray is up to you. Some people pray many more times a day. Not for long periods of time, but in several shorter conversations with the Father throughout the day. It depends on individual needs and desires.
Notice that the above scripture mentioned that Daniel faced toward Jerusalem. Why?
"But I (David), in the abundance of your grace, I will come into your house; I will worship in your fear toward your holy temple, O Yahweh."
"I will worship toward your holy temple; and give thanks to your name for your mercy, and for your truth; for you have magnified your word above all your name."
They were praying toward the location of Yahweh's sanctuary on earth. So must we pray toward Jerusalem today? Why? There might be nothing wrong with that, but where is the instruction to do so? His sanctuary is not standing on earth today. Our prayers are to be directed to Him. And where is He? In heaven. Some direct their prayers looking toward heaven. Others have downcast or closed eyes.
"Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and we may find grace for help in time of need."
The positions are just as varied as well.
I Timothy 2:8
"Therefore, I desire the men to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting."
I Kings 8:22
"And Solomon stood before the altar of Yahweh, across from the assembly of Israel, and spread his palms toward the heavens."
2 Samuel 12:16
"And David sought Elohim for the child, and David fasted a fast, and went in and stayed the night, and lay on the earth."
A person can pray on their knees, standing, prostrate on the floor or earth, sitting, laying down, arms outstretched, hands to the side, head bowed down, looking toward heaven, eyes open, eyes closed, etc. It does not matter - Yahweh will still hear. It is a matter of individual preference and it may vary as the needs or situations warrant.
Where should we pray?
"And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the open streets, so that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward."
What would be today's equivalent? Standing on a street corner, in a busy mall or grocery store, or even in a church while others are doing something else. Would that be prayer for true human needs? Or out of a need to appear righteous or important to others? If it is for ego, forget it. Yahweh won't hear it.
"But you, when you pray, enter into your room, and shutting your door, pray to your Father in secret, and your Father seeing in secret will repay you in the open.
It is to be a private matter - only between you and Yahweh. There is no requirement for a minyan - a certain number of people before prayers can be made.
This does not say that public prayer is wrong. There are times it is good - such as at the beginning or ending of a church service, or a funeral, or in a life and death situation, etc. For example, Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple he had built for Yahweh. That prayer can be found in I Kings 8:22-61.
As we have seen, there are numerous groups that use a set of prescribed prayers. They repeat them by rote, time after time, often mindlessly. The Jews recite them in Hebrew, but millions of them do not speak Hebrew. They have simply memorized the vocal sounds and cannot tell anyone what they are saying, word for word. Of what value is that?
"But when you pray do not babble vain words, as the nations, for they think that they shall be heard in their much speaking."
"Then do not be like them, for your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him."
The words translated here as "vain words" is Strong's #945 in Greek, battologeo. It means to stutter, i.e. (by implication) to prate tediously; to use vain repetitions.
It also says they think they will be heard. But it doesn't say that Yahweh does hear them!
Yahweh doesn't want to hear you reciting what some other man wrote. He wants to hear what is in your heart and mind and what your attitude is. He wants you to express your thoughts and your needs, even though, as it says, He already knows what they are. Sometimes you may not even realize how bad your attitude is or how selfish you may be until you actually voice what you want.
There are times that Yahweh does not answer on purpose. He may want to see how serious we are regarding what we're asking for. Will we be persistent and pursue the request more than once? That does not mean repetitious in the same way as those reciting prescribed prayers. If we ask for something more than once, chances are our words are not the exact same time after time.
"And He also spoke a parable to teach them it is always right to pray, and not to faint."
"Saying, a certain judge was in a certain city, not fearing Elohim, and not respecting man."
"And a widow was in that city, and she came to him, saying, avenge me from my adversary."
"And for a time he would not; but after these things he said to himself, even if I do not fear Elohim, and do not respect man."
"Yet because this widow causes me trouble, I will avenge her, that coming in the end she may not subdue me."
Notice that she did not receive her request the first time. But after repeated pleadings, the judge saw that she would not give up and she "wore him down." It's like the old line about the "squeaky wheel getting the oil" and attention.
I Thessalonians 5:17
"Pray without ceasing."
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and by petition, with thanksgivings, let your requests be made known to Elohim."
"Steadfastly continue in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving."
Praying For Others
We are not to be selfish in our prayers. We are to pray for others as well.
I Timothy 2:1-2
"First of all, then, I exhort that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men."
"For kings and all the ones being in high position, that we may lead a tranquil and quiet existence in all godliness and reverence."
"Through all prayer and petition, praying at every time in the spirit, and watching to this same thing with all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints."
"In hope, rejoicing; in affliction, enduring; in prayer, steadfastly continuing."
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those cursing you; do well to those hating you, and pray for those abusing and persecuting you."
Sometimes, especially when it comes to healing, it seems that we have a better chance of being heard and even healed if we pray for the healing and needs of others more than for ourselves.
"Is any among you sick? Let him call the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Master."
"And the prayer of faith will cure those being sick, and the Master will raise him up; and if he may have committed sin, it will be forgiven him."
"Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed; the prayer of a righteous one has great strength, having been made effective."
When we do not receive our request, we may think Yahweh didn't hear us. But sometimes it is because His response is different from what we asked to receive. He may have different ideas on the issues. Look at the examples of Moses and Paul.
"And I prayed to Yahweh for favor at that time, saying."
"Master Yahweh, you have begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand - for who is an El in the heavens or in the earth who can do according to your works and according to your might?"
"I pray to you, let me pass over and see the good land which is beyond the Jordan, this good hill-country, and Lebanon."
"But Yahweh was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; and Yahweh said to me, let it be much for you do not speak any more to me about this thing."
"Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and see with your eyes; for you shall not cross over this Jordan."
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
"And by the surpassing revelations, that I not be made haughty, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, that he might buffet me, that I not be made haughty."
"As to this I entreated Yahweh three times, that it depart from me."
"And He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you; for my power is perfected in weakness; therefore, I will rather gladly boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Messiah might overshadow me."
Neither Moses nor Paul received their request. Moses was denied the land he had wandered toward for forty years. Paul was given the strength to go on despite the weaknesses he had. Maybe he worked even harder for Yahweh because of them.
Yahweh is very conscious of and alert to the way in which we approach Him. He is not looking for arrogance or a demanding heart. He wants true, not feigned, humility.
"And my hand has made all these things, even all these things exist, declares Yahweh; but I will look toward this one, to the afflicted, and the contrite of spirit, even trembling at my word."
"And those who know ;your name will put their trust in You; for You, Yahweh, have not forsaken those who seek You."
"Sing praises to Yahweh who dwells in Zion; make His deeds known among the nations."
"For He remembers them, the seeker of bloodshed; He does not forget the cry of the afflicted."
"Yahweh is near those who are broken hearted, and saves those who have a contrite spirit."
2 Chronicles 7:14
"And my people, on whom My name is called, shall be humbled, and shall pray, and shall seek My face, and shall turn back from their evil ways, then I will surely hear them from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
Notice - their humility and repentance came before His hearing.
Immediately following the example prayer by Yahshua, we see the following:
"For if you forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."
"But if you will not forgive men their offenses, neither will your Father forgive your offenses."
"And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it, so that your Father in heaven may also forgive your sins."
"But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your sins."
James 4:2, 4
"You desire and do not have; you murder, and are jealous, and are not able to attain; you fight and your war, and you do not have, because you do not ask Elohim."
"You ask, and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order that you may spend on your lusts."
Just knowing Yahweh's name alone is not enough. Being in the "right church" is not sufficient. The heart and attitude are part of the equation.
"Whoever turns aside his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination."
What is an abomination? It is Strong's #8441 in the Hebrew, toebah. It means something disgusting (morally), i.e. an abhorrence; especially idolatry or an idol.
Now that is heavy! Think about all the churches whose doctrines do not include Yahweh's law. Could it be that those who believe the law is done away may not have their prayers heard? And especially those who teach that to others? Look at what Yahshua said.
"Do not think that I came to annul the law or the prophets; I did not come to annul, but to fulfill."
"Truly I say to you, until the heavens and the earth pass away, in no way shall one iota or one tittle pass away from the law until all comes to pass."
"Whoever then shall break one of these commandments, the least, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches them, this one shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens."
"There they cry, but He does not answer, because of the pride of evildoers."
"Surely, El will not hear vanity, nor will the Almighty look upon it."
In Proverbs "wisdom" has been personified, but the message is coming from Yahweh.
"Turn back at my warning; behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you."
"Because I have called, and you have refused; I have stretched out a hand, and none inclines."
"But you have ignored all my counsel; you did not want my warning."
"I also will laugh in your calamity, I will mock when your dread comes."
"When your dread comes like a storm; and your calamity arrives like a hurricane; when distress and constraint come on you."
"Then they shall call one me, and I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me."
"Instead they hated knowledge and chose not the fear of Yahweh."
"They did not want my counsel; they despised all my reproof."
"And they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own lusts."
Proverbs 15:8, 19
"The sacrifice of the wicked is a hateful thing to Yahweh; but the prayer of the upright is His delight."
"Yahweh is far from the wicked; but He hears the prayer of the righteous."
"Behold, the hand of Yahweh is not shortened from saving; nor is His ear heavy from hearing."
"But your iniquities are coming between you and your El; and your sins have hidden His face from you, from hearing."
"As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil has come upon us; yet we did not make our prayer before Yahweh our Elohim, that we might turn from our perversities and understand your truth."
"But they refused to listen, and gave a stubborn shoulder, and they made their ears heavy from hearing."
"And they made their heart adamant from hearing the law and the words which Yahweh of hosts has sent through his spirit, by the former prophets; and great wrath was from Yahweh of hosts."
"And it will be, just as He called, and they did not listen, so they called, and I did not listen, says Yahweh of hosts."
Do you realize what that says? If we refuse to listen to Yahweh and His law and His warnings, He has no obligation to listen to us when we cry out to Him!
"But we know that Elohim does not hear sinful ones, but if anyone is El-fearing, and does His will, He hears that one."
I Peter 3:12
"Because the eyes of Yahweh are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer; but the face of Yahweh is against any doing bad things."
But if we truthfully and diligently seek Him, if we will hearken to His words and obey and follow Him, He will listen. He will respond.
"I confessed over my transgression to Yahweh; and you forgave the iniquity of my sin."
"For this reason, let every godly one pray to you; at a time of finding, surely, when great floods come, they will not reach him."
Psalms 34:15, 17
"The eyes of Yahweh are on the righteous; and His ears are open to their cry."
"The righteous cry, and Yahweh hears, and saves them out of all their distresses."
"Yahweh is near to all who call on Him, to all those who call on Him in truth."
"He will fulfill the desire of the ones who fear Him; and He will hear their cry and save them."
Sometimes though, we can be so excited, or depressed, or confused, or unsure of ourselves, that we have no idea what to ask for, or even what we may need. We may not even know how to approach Yahweh about it. But we aren't alone - we have a helper.
"And likewise the spirit also joins in to help our weakness, for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the spirit himself pleads our case for us with groanings that cannot be uttered."
"But the one searching the hearts knows what is the mind of the spirit, because He intercedes for the saints according to Elohim."
So Why Pray?
So why should we pray? That is our way of communicating with Yahweh. We can pour out our hearts to Him, tell Him all our troubles, share our joys with Him, praise and thank Him, etc. Through His Word and study we come to know Him. Our talking to Him is how He gets to know us better. We center our attention and thoughts on Him and share time with Him. As time passes, it gets nearer and nearer the day of the Messiah's return. For those coming events, we need to be as close as we possibly can to Yahweh and Yahshua. Prayer is the door to that relationship.