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The Biblical Foundation of Prayer and Who Can Pray

In my last two articles in this mini-series, I covered the definition of prayer, its significance, and a historical/biblical example of the prophet Jeremiah on the power of prayer. This article will cover two key points: who can pray and the Biblical foundation of prayer. Stay tuned for the very last article that will cover how to pray and the discussion of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues that have been misconstrued by society for centuries. To see my last two articles in this mini-series of prayer, check them out below.

  • Restoration Promised

  • Prayer Defined

Who Can Pray

Who can pray has been a main cause of conflict among most denominations as well as religions around the world for centuries. Different religions require certain ceremonies like the Mormon belief system as well as Hinduism and Catholicism. However, the Bible is clear that only those that belong to Christ (truly converted, not outward confession with no change in lifestyle or heart) can pray. Prayer is a privilege of only those that become children of God. The question is often asked if God hears the prayer of the non-Christian. We'll dive into that below.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" (Matthew 5:43-47, NASB).

"And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life" (Acts 11:13-18, NASB).

"for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13, NASB).

As seen in the scripture references above, God hears the prayer of the Christian. For the non-Christian, their prayers are only heard when they repent and turn to God, crying out to be saved in humility. The promises linked to prayer are given to the Christian only (see 1 Timothy 2:5, John 14:6).

Who Can Pray Part 2

Among the main umbrella of who can pray, lies further details on the approach that is necessary.

  • Those that come "in Jesus'" can pray

When prayer is stated "In Jesus' name," His authority alone is signified and the merits of Christ's sacrifice on the cross are glorified.

  • Those who come to God with a clean heart

The way of the human heart is deceit and mockery of God. It might seem like this is a contradictory statement, but I assure you there is an explanation of what God is stating here. A "clean heart" signifies confessing sin and repenting before God. Christians who have broken fellowship with God will not have their prayers heard until they repent. This is the context of the below scripture references.

  • Those who have a forgiving spirit can pray

Like the above statement of having a clean heart, having a forgiving spirit can only truly be achieved after being truly converted and having God's assistance as it is human nature to hold grudges. Those who are not Christian and state they are forgiving are holding deceit in their hearts for no human is able to forgive on their own. Forgiveness is a mark of true genuine conversion and is a characteristic of the believer's walk with God. Worship will be hindered if there are those in life that haven't been forgiven and hearts are not clean before God.

The Biblical Foundation of Prayer: What Is to be Included in Prayer?

There is no certain order of prayer, no outline for how a prayer should be scripted. However, the Bible does note what should be included in prayer.

  • Adoration

  • Confession

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See 1 John 1:9 (this verse is quoted out of context quite frequently. It is not a justification verse, but a sanctification verse).

  • Thanksgiving

  • Supplication

The bottom line is if there is harbored sin or unconfessed sin, God will choose to not hear prayers.

Closing Thoughts

Prayer is a holy privilege that the believer has to have communication with God for needs, confession, adoration, thanksgiving, and supplication. The non-believer who cries out to God to be spiritually saved will be saved. However, please take heart that if you have an outward conversion of faith but yet live a life that is far from God and have no thought about pleasing God, you are not truly converted and have a false faith like what is mentioned of the Pharisees in the New Testament. There is a rectification for this though: to come to God with an earnest repentant heart and pray for forgiveness (not the Sinners Prayer that leads to false conversion but true deep repentance that is turning away from sin).

Similar articles are listed below.

  • A Dried Up Brook

  • Enduring Faith

  • The Attributes of God: Letter B

  • Knowing Freedom

  • The Account of the Exodus

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