notable lesson in prayer was learned by the author when he read that in prayer there are at least five elements that should be present in a well-balanced prayer life. In a sense, prayer cannot be analyzed, since it is a unity and the outpouring of the single life of the one who prays. Yet in another sense, it can be divided into its constituent elements.
“The fact that [prayer] is worship, and the further fact that worship may be expressed in various forms,” wrote H. W. Frost, “makes analysis possible….Prayer is indeed one. But also it is multiform.”1
The five enumerated elements are: worship, or adoration; thanksgiving; confession; petition; and intercession. This concept opened a new world of prayer, for hitherto his prayers had been almost entirely petition. Now the prayer life embraces whole new areas of spiritual experience.
Our Lord’s immediate answer to the request of His disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray,” was, “When you pray, say: ‘Father’” (Luke 11:2). In other words, prayer begins with God. The pattern prayer He gave them was halfway completed before He prayed for personal needs. The concerns and interests of God came first.
This is a supremely important lesson. If God is not given the chief place in our praying, our prayers will be anemic. When our thoughts begin with Him, love is kindled and faith stimulated. So our first lesson will be concerned with Him. We shall consider worship, or adoration, for this is involved in the petition “hallowed be Thy name” (v. 2).
Dr. R. A. Torrey, who was God’s instrument to bring revival to many parts of the world, testified that an utter transformation came into his experience when he learned not only to pray and return thanks, but to worship—asking nothing from God, seeking nothing from Him, occupied with Himself, and satisfied with Himself.
The idea of worship is common to the whole human race. But as generally used, the word worship seldom conveys its full scriptural content. It means “to bow down or prostrate oneself.” Worship is the adoring contemplation of God as He has revealed Himself in Christ and in the Scriptures. It is the act of paying honor and reverence to God. When we pray “hallowed be Thy name,” we are worshipping Him.
F. W. Faber caught the sense of the word in these lines:
How wonderful, how beautiful, the sight of Thee must be,
Thine endless wisdom, boundless power, and awful purity.
O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears,
And worship Thee with trembling hope, and penitential tears.
The Old English form of the word, worthship, gives an interesting sidelight on its meaning, implying worthiness on the part of the one who receives the honor. This is reflected in the apocalyptic ascription of praise to Christ: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive... honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).
Next page »