I am sure that none of us needs to be reminded that prayer is as essential to our life in Christ as breathing is to life itself. When I’m having difficulty falling back to sleep in the middle of the night, and my busy mind is buzzing with all kinds of “stuff”, I find that just breathing “Thank You, Jesus” over and over quiets my mind and allows me to drift back to the sleep I need. So there is no surprise in being told that we must pray all the time. And most of us know the basics of how to pray, because we have memorized the prayer that Jesus taught us, perhaps from a very young age. So what can we learn from today’s H.C. questions and answers? Are there any surprises here? Take a really close look again at Q119, particularly the petition, “…and forgive us our debts, AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR DEBTORS.” Hmmm…If God is to forgive us our hurtful ways, we must first be sure that we have truly forgiven anyone who may have hurt us in any way, even if that person doesn’t know that we have been hurt, even if that person has not asked to be forgiven?? Yes; that is exactly what Christ’s prayer demands of us. So, before we come before our God today, and every day, we must first ask ourselves: What are the hurts that we are carrying: what are the grudges that we are harboring? Then, as we forgive each one, we will experience the joy, the peace that comes from owning God’s promise that even so, He has forgiven us for all of our sins against Him.
Q116. Why do Christians need to pray?
- Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us.1 And also because God gives His grace and Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking Him for them.2
1 Ps. 50:14, 15; 116:12-19; 1 Thess. 5:16-18.
2 Matt. 7:7, 8; Luke 11:9-13.
Q117. How does God want us to pray so that he will listen to us?
- First, we must pray from the heart to no other than the one true God, who has revealed Himself in his Word, asking for everything He has commanded us to ask for.1 Second, we must acknowledge our need and misery, hiding nothing, and humble ourselves in His majestic presence.2 Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation: even though we do not deserve it, God will surely listen to our prayer because of Christ our Lord. That is what He promised us in His Word.3
1 Ps. 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Rom. 8:26, 27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14, 15.
2 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 4.
3 Dan. 9:17-19; Matt. 7:8; John 14:13, 14; 16:23; Rom. 10:13; James 1:6.
Q118. What did God command us to pray for?
- Everything we need, spiritually and physically,1 as embraced in the prayer Christ our Lord himself taught us.
1 James 1:17; Matt. 6:33.
Q119. What is this prayer?
- Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.1
1 Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4.