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The Place of Prayer in Christian Worship

Worship is the highest activity of man. It is directed entirely towards God. We are to worship God for His own sake, because He is, and not because of any effect of such worship. The end of all worship is spiritual union with God. This is the goal set for the Church by our Lord in His High Priestly prayer, “That they all may be one; as thou Father art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (KJV, John. 17. 21). Christian worship is both individual and social, that is- personal and corporate. Worship in its very nature, is profoundly personal.

The Christian grows in grace and become capable of offering worthy worship, through public worship, ministering Word of God and Sacraments. Various aspects of Worship Divine worship combines all the aspects of devotion – Confession, Praise, Prayer, Meditation, and Adoration. Worship is to be done with reverence. Reverence is the fundamental duty to God. Reverence when expressed silently is known as adoration, and carries with it homage and personal devotion. Praise is the audible expression which extols the divine perfection. Giving of thanks is expressing gratitude for the mercies of God.

Prayer has two variations. One is petition, if we are asking God’s favor for us. The other is intercession, when we plead for others, neighbors, pastors, leaders, kings and those who are in high position (1 Tim. 2:2), for those who are tempted and gone astray, for those who suffer or who are persecuted, and for those who cause us injury and who persecute us. Prayer, combined with Word of God is Meditation. To be fully effective, the Word must be preached for doctrine, or instruction in the truth of the Gospel and “…for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (NIV, 2.

Tim. 3. 16). Lessons from Pastoral Epistles St. Paul writes these Pastoral epistles to his disciples -Timothy and Titus instructing them, “how people aught to conduct themselves in God’s house hold, which is the Church of the living God” (NIV, 1 Tim. 3. 15). These epistles cover many aspects of Christian life and service. Prayer is one among them. A few salient features of Prayer or rather the place of Prayer in Christian worship as evidenced in these epistles are enumerated below. Prayer is a privilege of the Christian.

Apostle Paul wants the Christians to plead for others, leaders, kings and those who are in high position (1 Tim. 2:2). A Christian, as a priest, is privileged to approach the throne of God’s Grace confidently to intercede for others (1. Peter 2: 9, Heb 4. 16). Prayer has got a purpose. 1 Tim Chapter 2, Verses 1 and 2 states that prayers, supplications, intercessions and thanks giving be made for all men- for Kings and all in authority, so that they will rule in an orderly manner, that we may all lead a quite and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

If we look into the history, Nero, the wicked king, was reigning Roman Empire at the time Paul was writing this epistle. Inspite of that, Paul wants Christians to pray for all rulers; Verse 3 and 4 says that this is good and acceptable in the sight of god, our Savior, who wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. This means, we have to pray for the salvation of all men, including kings, whether they are good or wicked. Theological aspect.

Verse 1and 2 says, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all that are in authority; and Verse 4 says God wills all men to be saved. Here, Paul uses the words “all” and “all men”. This shows the inclusiveness of the Gospel. Theologically, it is related to the principle “unlimited atonement” propounded by Jacob Arminus and subsequently supported by John Wesley, as against the “limited atonement” propounded by Calvinists. Calvinists maintain TULIP as their dogma.

L stands for limited atonement implying Christ died only to save the elect and his atoning death is not universal for all humanity. Olson affirms, “Arminus appealed to John 3:16 and argued through out his writings that the universality of God’s will of salvation must be taken seriously… (467). Stam says, “those who read 1 Tim. 2:1-7 just as it is, and accept just what it says, can scarcely come to any other conclusion than that God desires the salvation of all and that Christ gave Himself a ransom for all, for that is just how it reads, that is just what it says.

The same thought is expressed negatively in 2 Pet. 3:9, where we are told that God is “not willing that any should perish” (47). He further says, “Calvinists should read Calvin’s note on this very passage. ‘Paul demonstrates here that God hath at heart the salvation of all because he invites all to the acknowledgment of the truth’ … He (Calvin) saw clearly that it would have been dishonest on the part of God to invite all to salvation if He did not desire the salvation of all” (48). So it is the paramount duty of every Christian to pray for the salvation of every people including the unsaved.

Prayer has got a Posture. Paul’s statement in 1 Tim. 2:8, “I want men everyone to lift up holy hands in Prayer”, implies the attitude of reverence adopted during worship and prayer. He advises women “to dress modestly, decently, and propriety… appropriate for women who profess to worship God”. Prayer has got a Pattern. 1 Tim 2:8 says, “I want men everyone to lift up holy hands in prayer with out anger or disputing. This passage implies; 1). By the preposition, “holy” Apostle implies a high standard of Christian character and conduct.

We can see this concept in other passages also. 2 Tim 2:22 says, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord”. This concept is a reflection of what our Lord Jesus says to the Samaritan woman, “…the true worshipers will worship the father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth” (John. 4. 23, 24). 2) When we pray to God, our relationship with others should be cordial.

The interpersonal sins like anger, strife, jealousy, backbiting, and enmity will dampen the spirit of prayer. Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (NIV, Mat 5:23, 24). Prayer has got to be perpetual Apostle Paul says, “Timothy, I thank God for you – the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did.

Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (NLT, 2 Tim. 1. 3, 4). He gives a pattern of perpetual prayer attitude. A Christian’s life itself is worship and prayer, a constant communication with God, irrespective of time and space. Bruner says, “It is characteristic of the place of prayer in the Christian life that it is not placed alongside of other forms of action, but that it permeates time and the visible sphere with a certain quiet and almost shy insistence, by reminding us to “pray with out ceasing”.

We are to pray always, all our action to take place in the presence of God, that is, it is to flow from union in God with prayer” (qtd. in Thomas 267). Pastoral epistles give a beautiful synopsis of Prayer in Christian worship and life. Work cited Stam, Cornelius R. Commentary on The Pastoral Epistles of Paul the Apostle. 1983, Berean Bible Society Germantown WI 53022. n. d. Web. 17 July. 2010. Olson, Roger E. The Storey of Christian Theology. Leicester: Inter- Varsity Press, 1999. Print Thomas, Owen C. Introduction to Theology. Delhi: THE ISPCK, 1989. Print.

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