Praying, Part 1 ~ The Foundation of Prayer – Understood

Introduction
This first part of a two-part series on prayer deals with the fundamentals of prayer.  Next week part 2, entitled: “Praying Part 2 ~ The Lord’s Prayer – Parsed,” will specifically deal with the Lord’s prayer.

Foundation

Therefore, before directly discussing prayer in regards to its structure in reference to what we call the “Lord’s Prayer” specifically (denotatively); let us first consider in a more general (connotatively) way the foundation that prayer must be established upon as it relates to the life of the believer.

Faith - the ABC's of faith

Faith
On this website, I spend a lot of time defining (what some have referred to as the ABC’s of…) “faith” as actions that are done based upon beliefs sustained by confidence as found in God’s word.

I often point out that faith has less to do with petitioning God, and more to do with trusting God for where (situationally and eventfully) God has us at any given point in our life – the fact that God is in total control.

Prayer and Faith

Faith & Prayer
Yet, in no way is this meant to demean prayer, for within prayer we are to seek God’s provision, protection, and guidance for our lives, as well as His presence.

It is in seeking His strength, ability and willingness to take care of us that we display humility in regards to our relationship with him as our sovereign King Lord and God.

The simple observation of how Jesus treated prayer shows the place that it should hold in our lives.  He prayed often, He prayed alone, He prayed after great feats and miracles, when men would seek to have Him circumvent God’s Will by immediately taking the kingdom on earth, rather than the antithesis of dying on the cross for the sins of humanity.

We are to be a praying people.

good

The Good
We must understand that when we ask in faith – we exercise hope that God will grant these daily request for our needs, and if they are not met; it is faith that convinces us He is still in control, and that these tribulations and valleys we experience are part of His Will for us in our lives in fulfilling Romans 8:28, knowing that ALL things are meant for our good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  ~ Romans 8:28

All Things
First, the Koine Greek word translated into the English words “all things” is panta [παντα] (“all [things]”), and means: “everything, without any exception whatsoever” (See Endnote # 1).

The parsing of panta  furthers the proposition that everything, and all things are what is referred to as seen in the following:

It is in the Present Tense, which is a continuous action (Never stops) 
It is in the Active Voice, the subject causes the action (Object Receives Action)
it is in the indicative Mood, which is the mood of complete certainty (A Reality – a fact)

Regarding the grammar of panta, Dr. Ralph W. Wilson states

“The main issue in translating this verse is to identify the subject of the sentence. It could be either:

1.  All things work together, or
2.  He (God) works all things together.

In most ancient Greek texts, the word “God” is implied, not present specifically. Grammatically, panta (“all things”) could be either the subject (if nominative) or the object (if accusative). Since this is true, the subject of the sentence must be determined by context, not by grammar. However, since “God” or “the Spirit” are the subjects of the surrounding sentences, it seems unlikely that “all things” should be the subject here. And even those who see “all things” as the subject does not propose that things work together for good only by their own accord, without God’s intervention. So the translation “God works” or “God causes … to work together” seems to me to be the best choice here (formatting added).

Work Together
Second, the Koine Greek word translated into the English words for “work together” is sunergeo, which is a verb.

What the grammar of these two words combined means is that as panta is in the active voice, wherein the subject, in this case is God or the Holy Spirit causes the verb action, sunergeo (“work together”) to the object, which is those “that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose; that God is the One who is directly behind working all things together in such a way that the eventual conclusion is good.  The idea of immediate gratification is not found in this verse, we must always remember that when dealing with the spiritual that the eternal is what is primary, not the temporal.

This verse does not say that everything that happens to the believer is good, but that everything that happens to the believer is part of a process where the good is the conclusion of that which happens.

According to Wayne Barber:

To work together” is the present active indicative of sunergeo. Sunergeo means to be a fellow-worker, that is, to co-operate. God Himself is the One working in our behalf and causing all things to work together for good.

The word “good” is agathos, meaning good, benevolent, profitable, useful good. In other words, God will cause everything in our lives to become beneficial, spiritually profitable, useful and good, even in a fallen world filled with sin and corruption. Think of ordinary table salt. It is composed of two poisons, sodium and chlorine. Yet when properly combined they produce an extremely beneficial substance.” (See Endnote # 2)

Two Ways of Looking at “For Good”
There are actually two ways of understanding what the term “for good” means in this passage.  The most obvious is the good that would profit those that are the object of the verse, those “that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” born-again believers.  See Endnote # 3 for the second good that is experienced by the born-again believer, that which is eternal, that which is the best good for us.

Unfortunately, this first good, mentioned above may not be received until the other side of death’s door, as a reward found in heaven for the faith we exercised having “received not the promises (See verse 39 below) we sought here on earth, this is what we find in the last few verses of Hebrews chapter 11.

We all like to talk about the first 35 verses of chapter 11 of Hebrews, the great acts of faith that men displayed towards God and received that which they sought.

Hebrews_11-35

Hebrews 11
How much more difficult it is to deal with those last few verses which talk about those that did not receive what they petitioned God for on this side of death’s door, as seen as in Hebrews 11:35-40; let’s start at verse 32 which states:

“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

It was on the other side of death’s door that their treasures were received, so that we could grow in faith by seeing how they suffered in faith.  I hate to be the “and others” of Hebrews 11:35.

Biblical Faith Comes from God’s Word
We must always understand that biblical faith is to be achieved through the reading of God’s word, and as this passage states it is when we read what happened in the lives of those that God recorded in his book wherein we gain faith as stated in Romans 10:17 which states:

“so then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God

Whereas it is true that when our experience lines with God’s Word, and in the present and God fulfills the expectation of faith, that faith can be grown.  However, faith’s primary place of origin and growth is God’s Word, the Bible.

Prayer
However, having said all this, every day we should be seeking that God blesses the works of our hands, as well as our provisions and our protection, and that the Holy Spirit would lead us into fulfilling God’s goodwill in a dying and lost world.

It is in humility that daily we seek God in these areas, and that we would seek to do His will in speaking to people regarding the gospel, but most importantly that we would be willing to do as Peter says and live life in such a way that people ask us the reason for our hope as seen in 1 Peter 3:15, which says:

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”

Sanctify
The words sanctify means to separate, it is the Greek word: hagiazo, from which we get the English word “holy”, and whereas purity is in mind, the main thought is being separated not so much as from the world, but more expressly to God.

There’s actually little difference between the two, because if you are separated unto God, you will be separated from the world.  However, it is possible for people to be separated from the world, yet not separated unto God.

But it is much more than our mortal limited perception can understand regarding purity that is in view, which is far beyond a lack of sin; it is the hollowed holiness of a pure and righteous God, a God that cannot even look upon sin (Hab. 1:13), which is why God is always seated in the purity of His throne room in heaven.

Jesus and Calvery

Separated unto God
The point that we need to hon the e in on is that as children of God, born-again believers, we are separated for God’s purposes and His designs, and that though it may not look like it at the time, everything that God has in our life serves a purpose, His purpose.

And while many focus in on believing correction and punishment are the root of most negative events in the believer’s life, this is a fallacy (See Endnote # 4).  Do not confuse our loving heavenly Father with fathers on earth that are sinful, conditional, and sometimes abusive.

It is God’s goodwill that we grow in faith daily trusting Him that no matter what the situation APPEARS to be from the outside, no matter how much it may LOOK LIKE the devil is in control, where it SEEMS that God has no ability or desire within the things that occur within our lives that GIVE THE IMPRESSION that are so harmful and only negative – this is an ALLUSION founded within a corrupted mind – God is ever at work within us to bring us to a place of yet greater faith, to bring us into the image notice of His own son (See Endnote # 3).

Faith that leads to obedience based upon the perfect Will of God, wherein the rewards to be found in God’s Word are mainly found on the other side of death’s door.

Ready to Give an Answer
It is the second part of 1 Peter 3:15 that many gloss over, reading:

“…and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear

This is what witnessing was always meant to be.

mormons

We find no New Testament example of going door-to-door handing out tracts and attempting to witness, or even standing on street corners telling people they’re going to hell.

Street Corner Preaching

 (SIDENOTE: While it is true there are no atheists in foxholes regarding the fear of hell, it is the grace of God that draws man while they stand on two feet, not the fear of Him.  Have you ever wondered what drew Moses to the burning bush.  It is not miraculous to see lightning strikes in that area where bushes are on fire.  Yet, what Moses observed and understood was that the thorn bush, a symbol of the curse as seen in Genesis; was on fire, which has always been a symbol of judgment, yet the bush was not consumed – this is grace.  And grace is an amazing sight.  It is this same amazing grace that would be seen a millennium and a half later when we would see the Son of God, crowned with the same thorns as a symbol of sin upon His head, being judged for the sins of the world, yet not consumed. It has always been God’s amazing grace that has drawn men to him as seen in the person of Jesus Christ.  Where drunks and publicans were comfortable and sought Him out, and self-righteous religious leaders condemned him and refused Him; because their pride would not humble them to receive the grace that was freely given.  We are saved by grace, through faith; not by fear through condemnation.  “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” ~ Romans 8:1)

Martyr

Witness ~ Martyr
The word “witness,” as found in Acts 10:39, is exactly the same word that is translated “martyr” in Acts 22:20; meaning the two activities are synonymous with each other.

What a lack of commitment and expense does witnessing hold when compared to the act of martyrdom?  I am not saying we should not proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are commanded and required to do so based upon God’s Word.

The point is, when Acts 22:20 refers to the martyrdom of Stephen, we need to understand the expense that he paid for witnessing regarding Jesus – it is this expense that we should be willing to pay rather than simple lip service or the handing out of tracks which cost us nothing.

jesus-breaking-bread-w-disciples1

True Biblical Witnessing
And here in 1 Peter 3:15 we see what true witnessing is meant to be.  It is meant to be a relationship where others view the obvious reasons for hope that we have as believers to the extent that they ask us what is the rationale behind such a commitment – this may cost us something – our time, our presence, our willingness to spend time with others, our willingness to spend time with sinners, our reputations, and for some, even our lives.

It’s easy to spend a few hours going door-to-door, it’s totally different to open our lives to people so that they can see us live out our faith in the form of the relationships that we have with them and the world around us, not only with lip service, which is necessary; but much more importantly in the actions of our behaviors where we display our faith in God, where we display our hope in God as we live out our lives.

Conclusion
It is in understanding that there is a circle here starting with prayer in seeking God’s provision, protection, and Will in our lives wherein the outcome is to be the growth of faith whereby we hold onto this precious hope as found in the promises of God’s Word to the extent that when people see our behaviors of complete reliance upon God, especially when the circumstance would normally dictate otherwise – that they would ask us what it is that would empower us to be able to stand strong during times of tribulation with a courage and confidence, which can only be explained because of our faith based upon our reliance of God working everything out in our life for good, even when it’s painful on earth – displaying our eyes upon eternity – where the real rewards are received.

So let me make it plainly clear that we are to pray and seek God’s provision, protection, and guidance in our lives.  Yet, to do so in faith knowing that God will work everything out in the end, for what is good to us.  Not immediate gratification as the world teaches, but long-term gratification which is mature, complete, joyous and eternal.

Brent 

Next week we will publish part 2 of this two-part series:

“Praying Part 2 ~ The Lord’s Prayer – Parsed” ~ LINK

Endnotes:
1.   The Greek Word: panta (παντα), According to Strong’s Dictionary, including Tense, Voice, and Mood:

“Including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole: – all (manner of, means) alway (-s), any (one), X daily, + ever, every (one, way), as many as, + no (-thing), X throughly, whatsoever, whole, whosoever.” 

2.   “Romans 8:28-39 – The Revelation and Resolve of the Holy Spirit” by Wayne Barber, http://preceptaustin.org/romans_28-39.htm

3.   The Most Important Good That the Believer Receives

“What, then, is the good? It is defined for us, initially at least, in v. 29, one of the forgotten verses of scripture: “because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (NET). The good is not our comfort, wealth, or health. It is conformity to Christ! This good is then fully defined in the next verse: “And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified” (NET).

Ultimately, all things work together to bring each Christian into conformity to Christ, to bring each Christian to glory. So certain is Paul that this will take place that he speaks of our glorification in the past tense! He uses what is called the “proleptic aorist,” a device in Greek when an author is indicating that “it’s as good as done.” Not only this, but no one is lost between predestination and glorification. Paul does not say “some of those” or even “most of those” when describing each stage of the salvation journey. From predestination to glorification, he uses the simple “those” (ou{” or touvtou”); the repeated pronoun refers back to the entire group mentioned before. No one misses the boat along the way.

When we read Romans 8:28 in its context we can give a positive answer to the questions of pain and suffering in the world. We may see nothing good come of misery and disaster in this world, but this world is not all of reality. There is an ‘until’; there is a place beyond the horizon of what our senses can apprehend, and it is more real and more lasting than what we experience in this mortal shell. God is using the present, even the miserable present, to conform us to the image of his Son.

If we define the good as only what we can see in this life, then we have missed the whole point of this text. For, as Paul said earlier in the same chapter, “For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18, NET). Western Christians—especially American Christians—are prone to pervert texts such as Romans 8:28. If our lives are comfortable, if we have wealth, good health, that is fine and well. But it is not the good that Paul had in mind, and it is not the goal of the Christian life.”  By Dr. Daniel B. Wallace.  

https://bible.org/article/do-all-things-really-work-together-good-romans-828-its-context

4.   Tribulations In the Life of Believers

It is unfortunate that so many born-again children of God believe that the pain in tribulation in their life, those things that are not based upon their own behaviors, are some kind of chastisement where God is punishing them at the least, or a sadistic effort to beat them down at the worst.

The tribulation that believer’s experience, in an overwhelming amount of time has other purposes rather than that of discipline.

I’ve often wondered why Christians are so preoccupied with beating the sin out of their life, when at death’s door the sin nature falls off.  Why would God have us spend a lifetime to attempt to control something that after death will not be an issue.  This is why we are not to obey simply for the sake of obeying blindly without understanding.  We are to obey based upon faith in God and that what He has stated, we are to do is not only what is best for us, not only what is best for God’s will, but something that we can hold onto no matter how painful, or mysterious these tragic occurrences are.

These mysteries concerning tribulation will be answered in eternity, yet for now appear to be an enigma, even paradoxical, as found in Joseph’s statement to his brothers after the death of their father, when they were fearful that Joseph would finally punish them for what they had done to him, his response is perhaps one of the greatest insights we have on the subject of God’s ability to use evil to bring about his own goodwill.

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” ~ Genesis 50:20

This is the power and glory of our God that he can use the evil that men do against us to bring about good in the conclusion.

Therefore in considering the trials that we go through as believers, we must understand that there are 10 different reasons that we undergo these trials, yet as Peter and James both state concerning the trials of our faith (the word trial does not mean a trial to determine innocence or guilt, it is the word “proving”, wherein the tribulation proves the faith that the believer maintains), are more precious than gold, yet for our own benefit, as we learn more and more to place our trust in God – this is what we must learn within the tribulation of our earthly experience, so that in the eternities to come we will have a solid faith in God that is un-waving no matter what we do in the future.

You see sin will fall off and we don’t need to learn not to sin in our resurrected body, but we will have needed to learn to completely trust God in the tribulations we experience in this life, so that in our resurrection body and the eternity that we have yet to live our trust and faith in God will be without exception – this is why we learn obedience, because it is in the knowledge that God is trustworthy, that we can completely obey him and security understanding that though at this time, the trials are painful, there is a future glory that we will experience where they work out for our good (as hundreds of thousands of believers were tortured and murdered her within the first hundred years after the ascension, what they went through was not good; yet when they walked through death’s door the martyrs crown they receive was the good that came out of these experiences – of the 5 [See Endnote # 5] crowns that are received in heaven by the believer, I believe the martyrs crown holds the most weight with our Lord, and therefore unmask a treasure in heaven for those that receive it that is far beyond the pain and tragedy experienced on this earth that it took to receive this crown)

Trials In the Life of Believers

  1. To glorify God The most important for us (Dan. 3:16-18, Dan. 3:24-25)
  2. To build faith.  The most important to us (1 Pet. 1:6-7; James 1:2-4)
  3. To cause growth (Rom. 5:3-5)
  4. To prove the reality of Christ in us (2 Cor. 4:7-11)
  5. To testify to Angels (Job 1:8; Eph. 3:8-11; 1 Pet. 1:12)
  6. To equip u s to comfort others (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
  7. To prevent us from falling into sin (1 Pet. 4:1-2)
  8. To keep us from pride.  Paul’s thorn (2 Cor. 12:7)
  9. To teach obedience & discipline (Acts 9:15-16; Philp. 4:11-13)
  10. To Discipline for known sin (Heb. 12:5-11; James 4:17; Rom. 14:23; 1 John 1:9)

The Process of Faith

Faith only grows when it is stretched by tribulations (problems, hard times, difficulties, calamities, trials, and testing; they’re all synonymous concerning the “trying of our faith”). Faith can only grow incrementally, as more and more is demanded of it.  This is because trust is a process contingent upon experience, as someone (or in the case of God and His Word the Bible – Rom. 10:17) proves they are trustworthy situation after situation, we trust them more and more. In this way faith is analogous to a muscle which must be torn before growth can occur. Therefore, we must always realize and therefore understand that testing is not done as a process whereby God attempts to validate the existence of our faith, or its degree, which might appear cruel on the surface; but that these trials are necessary for faith to grow, and that without these trials, it is impossible for faith to mature ~ James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 4:12.

5.  Crowns and Believers

Born-again Christian believers are blessed in many ways.  Not counting the earthly benefits we receive, the pleasure of spending eternity with God, of awaiting Jesus’ return for His own, the “blessed hope,”(See A below) and all the unbelievable treasures we shall enjoy forever in God’s presence. (See B below) Beyond all this, believers can achieve the following crowns (See C below) spoken about in God’s Word, they are God’s righteous recognition for the commitment, sacrifice, suffering, and faithfulness we display in producing fruit for the kingdom of God:

Crown of Life: For Suffering for the Christ(James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”  (1 Peter 5:10)

Crown of Righteousness: For the Love of His Appearing (II Timothy 4:8)

Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.”  (Malachi 3:16)

Crown of Glory: For Feeding His Sheep (I Peter 5: 2-4)

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [agapao = “highest regard”] thou me more than these?  He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love [phileo = “affection”] thee.  He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.  He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [agapao = “highest regard”] thou me?  He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love [phileo = “affection”] thee.  He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [phileis/phileo = “affection”] thou me?  Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest [phileo = “affection”] thou me?  And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love [phileo = “affection”] thee.

Jesus saith unto him, “Feed my sheep.”  (John 21:15-17)  Feeding sheep refers to leading & teaching disciples / the local church, even if the pastor is lacking.

Crown Incorruptible: For Those That Press On Steadfastly (I Corinthians 9: 24-25)

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.  And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.”  (2 Timothy 2:3-5)

Crown of Rejoicing: For Winning Souls(I Thessalonians 2:19)

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”  (Romans 10:13-15)

A. Titus 2:13; Romans 8:20, 24-25, 15:4.
B. Matthew 6:20, 19:21; Luke 12:33, 18:22.
C. Revelation 3:11

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Faith Bible Ministries Blog ~ An Online Study of the Bible

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This online Bible study series addresses primary New Testament words in their original language - Koinè Greek - as opposed to mainly using the English translations; which is like adding color to a black-and-white picture.

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"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"

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"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"

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