Core Convictions about Prayer

from Nov 25, 2019 Category: Articles

To experience God in our midst we must be people of prayer. To be people of prayer we need to know what prayer is. From the example of David in Psalm 109, we can see that prayer is the total offering of oneself to God for everything that is needed. Because of this people of prayer affirm several core convictions.

God invites us to pray.

Through the psalmist the Lord invites us, saying, “Pour out your hearts before him” (Ps. 62:8). When he walked this earth our Lord showed that he invites us to pray, saying three times in his teaching on prayer, “When you pray,” and then he said, “Pray then like this” (Matt. 6:5, 6, 7, 9). Clearly, God desires and delights in our prayers.

God is able and available to hear our prayers.

David knew the pain of abandonment. Yet he can say of the Lord, “He stands at the right hand of the needy one” (Ps. 109:31). The right hand of God is the place of power and honor; it is the place where our Lord Jesus currently stands. But here we are told that God stands next to us, at our right hand, ready to advocate for us! Even before we ask or think, God has the power to do above and beyond all that we will ask or think in a superabundant way (Eph. 3:20–21). How? The same power that raised Christ is the same power at work in us to raise us from sin to salvation (1:20–21). In the words of Thomas Manton, “Faith sets prayer a-work, and prayer sets the almighty power of God a-work.”1 “It is much for the glory of God’s goodness, and the encouragement of ours, that He is a God hearing prayer.”2 

God promises to answer our prayers.

The Lord promised through Isaiah, “The Lord will answer … He will say, ‘Here I am’” (Is. 58:9). God is not only available to hear prayer but also to answer. We see this in relating the beginning of Psalm 109 with the end. In verse 4, David prays, and then, in verse 31, he is reassured that God is right at his side, in his struggles, in his prayers. God is near “to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.” God is fully available, being at our right hand. But he is also fully able, being the God who actually saves us from our dire distress. In the words of John Calvin, “There is nothing better to stir us to make our prayers, than a firm assurance that we shall succeed in them.”3 

God promises to answer our prayers made in accord with his will.

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13–14; cf. 15:16; 16:23–24). The key is that whatever we ask of God must be done “in [Jesus’] name.” D.A. Carson explains that this means our prayers “are offered in thorough accord with all that his name stands for (i.e. his name is not used as a magical incantation: cf. 1 John 5:14), and in recognition that the only approach to God those who pray enjoy, their only way to God (cf. vv. 4–6), is Jesus himself.”4 The questions we need to be asking are these: am I asking for something that Jesus would pray for? Am I asking for something that will bring glory to the Father? If so, we ask; then we wait.


God grants us the help and intercession of His Holy Spirit when we are at a loss in prayer.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26).

God promises us His blessings when we pray.

God compares his blessings given through prayer to renewing rain which He grants from heaven. “Put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Mal. 3:10); “He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hos. 6:3); “I will be like the dew to Israel; He shall blossom like the lily; He shall take root like the trees of Lebanon” (Hos. 14:5). In the words of Alfred Tennyson’s poem on the death of King Arthur, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice rise like a fountain for me night and day.5

This excerpt is abridged and adapted from Daniel R. Hyde’s chapter “Continuing in Prayer” in Faithful and Fruitful: Essays for Elders and Deacons edited by William Boekestein and Steven Swets


[1] Thomas Manton, “A Treatise of the Life of Faith,” in Works (1870–75; repr., Homewood, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2008), 15:146.
[2] Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 8th printing, 1997), 834, col. 2.
[3] John Calvin, A Harmony of the Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke: Volume 1, trans. A.W. Morrison, eds. David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance, Calvin’s Commentaries 12 vols. (1972; repr., Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975), 1:229.
[4] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 497.
[5] “Morte D’Arthur.” As found at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45370/morte-darthur (Accessed July 20, 2018).