Let Us Put Honor Back in Prayer
I thank God continually for my godly parents who reared me. As the son of a preacher, I have had many opportunities that most children never have had. One such type of opportunity was having preachers, elders, deacons and other faithful Christians into our home for meals—I still enjoy this blessing. Right before we ate a delicious meal, my father would usually ask our guest, “Would you do the honor of giving thanks?”
The question asked implies that it is an honor to lead prayers. Do we really believe today that it is an honor not just to pray, but to be able to lead prayers? Many ask preachers periodically to lead benedictions for various events and programs. These are most often honorable invitations. Many have even led prayers for Congress. Is it not an honor today to lead the prayer during our worship and devotionals? The audience who is praying with us does not make it honorable, but the audience to which we are praying makes it honorable.
In Luke 11, one of the disciples of Jesus requested of Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). Jesus then taught them to pray to Jehovah God in such a way as they never had before: “And he said unto them, ‘When ye pray, say, “Our Father which art in heaven…”’” (Luke 11:2). Those Jewish disciples were able to learn and know that God truly was their heavenly Father. What an honor to be His children, and to call our God “Father!”
Notice with me a few reasons why approaching our Father in prayer is honorable. First, God listens to and answers our prayers. The Bible is rich with passages informing us that God has always listened to the prayers of His children, and He will still listen to our prayers today. During the days of Abraham, God tells Abimelech in a dream that he will be blessed because of Abraham’s prayer for him (Gen. 20:7, 17). Hannah prayed for a son in First Samuel, and God blessed her. Hezekiah prayed for longer life and God granted it to him (2 Kings 20:3-5; Isa. 38:2-5). David says in Psalm 5:2, “Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.” Solomon says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight. The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous” (Prov. 15:8, 29). Peter says in First Peter 3:12, “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”
Another reason that prayer is honorable is that we, as Christians who sin, can still approach God for cleansing and forgiveness. The publican prayed in Luke 18:13, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” John says in First John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Jesus certainly warns against those in Matthew 6:5 who misuse the honor of prayer. This honor to pray is not one of self-praise, but rather is one of praise to God. Therefore, when people ask us to lead a prayer, let us not look upon it as a burden, but rather, let us look upon it as an honor!