Our Life with God, Lesson 8: Christian Prayer, Pt. 2

Why PrayLast week, we looked at the Lord’s Prayer as a model prayer and a prayer to say verbatim.  Today, we continue looking into why we pray when our Father knows what we need ever before we pray—and other topics.


Why Pray?  “Grace Alone”

Jesus doesn’t command prayer (just like He doesn’t command helping the poor or fasting).  So, “why pray?”  The Small Catechism, teaching the Lord’s Prayer, has many phrases, such as:

  • The kingdom of God comes even without our prayer.  But we pray…
  • The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer.  But we pray…
  • God indeed gives daily bread to everyone, even to the wicked, without our prayers.  But we pray…

If God works His will even without our prayers, why bother praying at all?  That is a Law question, but the answer is rooted in the Gospel.  We explore the book of Romans.

In his epistle to Rome, Paul hammered away at salvation by works, whether by trying to follow the Old Covenant or by trying be righteous before God based on what you do.  Then, in Romans 6, Paul says: “What should we say then?  Should we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6:1).

The Apostle was fighting for the “grace alone” truth of the Gospel.  Realizing that our salvation—and the life that flows forth from that—is God’s doing, our sinful nature will conclude, “Why make any effort at anything?”  This thinking understands the Gospel: God saves us 100 percent.  Our sinful nature seizes on that truth and comes to a sinful conclusion.  “If faith alone saves, then why should I bother loving my neighbor?”  “If God does what He does whether I pray or not, why bother praying?”

  • When you ask such a question, what is the truth about God hidden underneath that question?


What was Paul’s answer to “Why bother?”  It was, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2).  Paul then goes into baptism showing that a Christian is baptized into Christ and now has a different identity.  “Why bother?”  You bother praying because that is what you do based on who you are!  “When you pray, say…”  Jesus doesn’t even have to command us to pray.  He, too, sees prayer as an obvious result of Christian identity.

If getting something from God is your only motivation for praying, then your motivation need to dies with the “grace alone” truth of Gospel.  Your prayer does not change the heart of God toward you.  Jesus does!  “Grace alone” even shapes our prayer life with God.

  • The Lord’s Prayer begins by recognizing Whom?


“Our Father”: Recognizing Who God is and His character shapes our prayer (and the rest of the Lord’s Prayer).  From there, we call on Him to be Who He is within our context and setting.  Faith is content with letting God be God and resting in Him working all things for our eternal good (Romans 8:28).

A faith-borne motivation to pray is not the fear of what will happen if we don’t pray, nor is it the drive to convince God to do something.  Prayer grows from the joy we have in the Gospel and the mercy of Christ who has chosen to use us, even in our prayers.


Why Pray?  Communion not only Communication

“Our Father…”

  • Jesus brings us to the Father and makes His prayer our prayer. Being able to pray because of Jesus reveals what about us in relation to the Father?


The “our” in “our Father” shows us to be in communion with God Father through His Son, which can only be a reality in the Holy Spirit.  If we were to analyze most of our conversations, most of them would NOT be about getting something from someone else.  Most of our conversations are just that: saying what’s on our mind, sharing our fears, hopes, longings, and sometimes our secrets.  Our conversation is not only communication but also the reality of being in communion.

The key to prayer is the Gospel.  Prayer is a form of Communion brought about by our union with Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-5), which involves talking to God.

Prayer is holy conversation.  It’s children coming to their Father in heaven and saying, Abba, Dad.  Prayer is the Son insisting His Father listen to us, as the Spirit is packaging and delivering our words.  And in such communication, we of course tell God about those who are sick and the other concerns in our lives.

In the context of being family, we lay everything before God and are content with what He does with it.  Faith trusts God will receive our prayers and answer them in His way and time: “Your will be done…”

  • Can prayer with God take place if you are not part of His family? (“Our Father”)


  • How does understanding that you are in God’s family change your view of prayer?


“Pray Without Ceasing”

This verse comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  To understand the context, we look at what the Apostle Paul and Pastors Timothy and Silas wrote earlier in the chapter.

  • What does 1 Thessalonians 5:2 remind Christians about?


  • What is the point of 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 and what that means for how Christians live?


  • Verses 12-22 are all the result of being “sons of light,” a state of being. As with the others statements, such a “rejoice always,” what does “pray continually” mean?


Praying in Jesus’ Name

Exodus 20:3: Do not carry the name of Yahweh, your God [Elohim], into the emptiness.

Matthew 28:19-20: Therefore, after you go, disciple the Gentiles by baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep everything I have commanded you [to teach]…

  • What do we learn about the “name of God” in relation to God in both passages?


What you do to God’s name you do to God.  They come together, either for good or ill.  We even see how not having God’s name attached to something as God commands it means that His promises do not come with the improper use of His name.

Acts 2:38: [On Pentecost Day, Peter preached:] “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is for you and for your children…

Here Peter used “the name of Jesus Christ” to point to the baptism Jesus instituted (Matthew 28:19-20).  Remember, the name and person (in this case, Jesus) go together.  When baptism was received using the name of God: “the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” someone received what Jesus promised: being brought into the kingdom of God by birth from above (see John 3).

Read Acts 8:14-17

“only”: in vs. 16, Greek, monos, meaning “alone” or “only.”  The Samaritans received a baptism with the name of Jesus alone, without the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Since this was a baptism contrary to what Jesus instituted (thus contrary to His name since His name is attached to what He instituted), Jesus’ promises He attached in baptism were not received.

What Luke leaves out is if the Samaritans received a baptism into the name of the Triune God.  Of course they did, for it seems unthinkable that our Lord’s Apostles would not baptize as Jesus commanded!  Luke, however, does not mention it.  Perhaps, Luke saw it as not needing to be mentioned, instead wanting to show that God is not present if people do their “own thing.”

  • Discuss vs. 17? (Why does Luke find this necessary to mention this when Jesus didn’t command it?)


Understanding the link between the name of God and God, we now read:

John 14:13-14: [Jesus speaking:] “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in my name, I will do it.”

  • Is this prayer praying in “Jesus’ name”? “God, kill my neighbor because I hate him.  In Jesus’ name.  ”  Why or why not?


  • What then is praying in Jesus’ name?


John 16:23-24: [Jesus speaking:] “On that day, you won’t ask me for anything.  I assure you: Whatever you ask the Father for in my name, he will give it to you.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.  Ask [in my name] and you will receive [it], so that your joy may be complete.”

  • What is “that day”?


  • What will Jesus do on that day (in general, and specifically as related to these verses)?


  • What is the relation to the name of Jesus and Jesus, and the joy He will give to His saints on the last day?


  • Praying in “Jesus name” is another way of saying?


Prayers in the Church

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-4

  • How do we know these are instructions for prayer during worship?


  • What is the reason for praying the governmental authorities?


  • Implied within Paul’s words to Timothy are what roles for the state and the Church?


  • Preview for our lesson on Evangelism. What two aspects of the Faith does God use because He wants all people to be saved?


Lesson 8, Why Pray


Next week: “freaky” aspects of our prayer lives with God.


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