128. What is the purpose of prayer?

The Christian concept of prayer, being communication and conversation with a personal loving God who is interested in every aspect of our lives, is a fundamental concept of Christian faith, praxis and belief. Prayer involves submission and humility to the will of God. Jesus’ great prayer He taught His disciples to pray in Luke 11 verses 2-4 involved essential elements of prayer. They are praise and adoration, petition and supplication, intercession for others, protection from the enemy, deliverance from temptation, and prayer for the extension of His Kingdom on earth. In addition to this, the apostles taught us to pray for our families, loved ones, healing, neighbours, those who persecute us, for leaders and those in authority, and the nations and governments of the earth. Finally, we are to pray for peace and reconciliation. Prayer requires the exercise of faith believing that what we pray will come to pass. Some things or people we pray for involve such a level of spiritual conflict that we are required to fast and pray for those matters. The Apostle Paul encourages us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). Prayer is the instrument God uses to accomplish His will on earth. The prayers of the saints are vital to the purposes of God on earth. The Kingdom of God is the rule and reign of Christ in the lives of believers. When God’s people pray, God’s Kingdom is manifest on earth.

First, a man who recites the Qur’an to please Allâh, Great and Glorious is He, and who leads the Prayer to people’s satisfaction. Second, a man who gives the Call to Prayer in a Mosque, inviting people to Allâh, Great and Glorious is He, for the sake of His good pleasure. Third, a man who has a hard time making a living in this world yet is not distracted from the work of the Hereafter.’ (Tirmidhi).

In the hadith 416, it is said of the Prophet of Islâm: ‘The five set Prayers may be compared to a stream of fresh water, flowing in front of your house, into which you plunge five times each day. Do you think that would leave any dirt on your body?’ When they replied: ‘None at all!’ The Prophet, said: ‘Indeed the five Prayers remove sins, just as water removes dirt.’ In the hadith 415 the Prophet said, ‘On the Day of Resurrection, three people will find themselves on the ridge of black musk. They will have no reckoning of fear, nor any cause for alarm while human accounts are being settled.

‘The Psalms of Islâm’ or Al-Sahifat Al-Kalimat Al-Sajjadiyya written by Imam Zayn al-Abidin ‘Ali ibn al Husayn are the supplications attributed to the founders of the Shia Islâm dating back to the year 265. The author explained in the introduction to ‘The Psalms of Islâm’ that ‘supplicating or calling on Allâh to address him with one’s praise, thanksgiving, hopes and needs are personal prayers commonly understood by contemporary Christians. It forms the basic part of religious life, but like ‘dhikr’ (remembrance of God), though commanded in the Qur’an in general terms, it does not take a specific form in the injunctions of the Shari’ah because of its personal and inward nature. Everyone must remember to supplicate Allâh, but this can hardly be legislated, since it pertains to the secret relationship between the human being and Allâh. The salat however is the absolute minimum which Allâh will accept from the faithful as the mark of their faith and their membership of the community (ummah). Salat is the public practice of prayer and worship. Dhikr is totally personal. The ‘sunnah’ contain the highest example of supplications and everyone should emulate them. When the Prophet of Islâm recited them his Companions would remember them and memorise them. They used these supplications on various occasions.’

‘To the Prophet of Islâm’s supplications the Shi’ites have added the supplications of the Imams, beginning with ‘Ali. Nowadays, the most widely used of the comprehensive prayer manual, which contain a variety of supplications from all

Imams and for every occasion, is probably ‘Mafatih al-jinan’ (‘Keys to the Gardens of Paradise’) by ‘Abbas Qumi (d. 1359/1940).’ 129. Why does God answer prayers offered in Jesus name?

Praying in Jesus’ name means the same thing as praying according to the will of God. According to 1 John 1:14-15 ’This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.’

Furthermore in John 14:13-14, ‘I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.’ In John 15:16 Jesus says: ‘You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.’ In John 16:23-24, 26 Jesus said: ‘At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name.’

Praying in Jesus name was an instruction Jesus gave His disciples so their prayers would be effective and have the authority and power of His name. Because we pray with such great power, it is important that we pray according to His will. We must ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in our prayers. We should discern the voice of the Spirit of God speaking to us as we pray, and pray according to His will.