How Should We Pray?

Series: A Constant Sense


Pt.#7 – A Constant Sense

Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / August 23, 2015

As you can see from the title of this morning’s sermon, our topic of study today is, “How should we pray?”.

Typically or generally speaking there are five basic postures in prayer - - all with Biblical precedence.

Standing – with eyes open, looking up, with hands uplifted

Moses prayed this way in Ex.9:27-29 in response to Pharaoh’s temporary contrition.

Abraham’s servant prayed this way when he sought God’s help in securing a bride for Isaac (Gen.24:12-14).

This was David’s posture in Ps.121:1-2, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains…”

Jesus prayed this way (Mk.:6:41) when He thanked God for the fives loaves and two fish.

This is a posture encouraged by Paul in 1Tim.2:8, “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands…”

Standing – looking down with eyes averted or closed with hands clasped at the waist

This variation of standing expresses humility and submission.

Lk.18:13 states that the tax collector was “unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven but was beating his breast…” 

Kneeling – with eyes looking up and hands uplifted or looking down with hands folded and eyes closed

This posture is depicted by Solomon in 1Kg.8:54.

It is spoken of by David in Ps.95:6, “come let us worship & bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God our Maker.”

Prostrate – lying on one’s belly with eyes averted or closed

Gen.17:3 says, “Abram fell on his face…”

Jesus knelt in the garden to pray (Lk.22:41), but He also “fell on His face and prayed” (Mt.26:39).

This was the posture of the angels in Rev.7:11 when “they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God...”

Sitting – with eyes averted or closed and with hands folded

2Sam.7:18 states that “David sat to pray”.

This became more common with the introduction of pews in church buildings.

These five postures (and variations thereof) are not all-encompassing, but they are illustrations of various prayer postures.

2Sam.6:16 tells of David, “leaping and dancing before the Lord”.

Jesus may have been reflecting on David’s actions when He urged, “be glad in that day, and leap for joy” (Lk.6:23).

Having given this overview of the various postures for praying, we cannot say that none of this really matters to God - -

body language is a communication in and of itself - - and has significance for us and for God.

What we can safely say, however, is that God is more concerned about the posture of our

heart, mind and soul when we pray, than He is with our physical, external posture.

? The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. ?

We can stand, we can kneel, we can sit or we fall on our face.

We can lift our hands or fold our hands.

We can look upward or we can look downward.

We can pray in public and we can pray in private (in our inner rooms or our closets).

We can pray silently; we can whisper our prayers;  we can cry out loud.

Heb.5:7 says concerning Jesus - - “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers

and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One about to save Him from death…”

We can pray with eyes wide open (Linda Chopic & Jeannie Siverd in their vehicles) or we can close our eyes.

However we choose to pray, THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT WE PRAY.

At all times” (Eph.6:18)  and “without ceasing” (1Thess.5:17).

As the apostle Paul has exhorted (Philp.4:6), we are to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything

by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving,  (we are to) let (y)our requests be made known to God.”

  We can pray in the morning;   We can pray at noontime;  We can pray in the evening.

We can pray when we’re happy;  We can pray when in sorrow;  We can pray when we tempted.

We can pray anytime and all the time.

Our praying must be part of the flow of our lives and is therefore found in every posture.

When Margi Paukovich was awaiting more definitive results concerning her cancer diagnosis,

she acknowledged, “it is in God’s hands”.  Margi and Kacey came to our house and we prayed.

Burdette Stewart had that same “in-God’s-hands” attitude when he was confronted with a serious diagnosis a while back.

While Jesus gave us the model prayer (Mt.6:9-13), He was not giving us a distinct formula that must be followed.

What He gave us was a pattern to build on, one that begins with the “hallowing of God’s name”.

In Scripture we do not read of some “magical incantation”.  There is no mantra.

In fact, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their “vain repetitions” (Mt.6:7).

However, the Bible does provide us with some basic guidelines for prayer.


In Jn.14:13, Jesus stated, “whatever you ask in My name, that I will do”.

Like the model prayer, “asking in His name” is not a verbal formula - - not some form of an “abracadabra”.

God is not some Genie in a bottle who jumps which we verbalize some secret password.

To ask in His name is to ask in keeping with His character, His will and His purposes.

Some of us need to get more serious about our study of the Scriptures, because it is the Word of God

that reveals to us the character, will and purposes of the Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.

Paul speaks of having “the mind of Christ” in 1Cor.2:16.

In Philp.2:5 he admonishes us saying, “have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”

The very best way to learn to pray “in the name of Christ” is to become a very serious student of The Word.

One person I read after (John MacArthur in Lord Teach Us To Pray, p.39) closes his prayers by saying,

“This I ask in the name of Christ because I believe that it is consistent with His person and work.”


In Mt.21:22 Jesus states, “whatever you ask in prayer, BELIEVING, you shall receive.”

This is really another way of saying that we are to pray “in the name of Jesus”.

It is also another way of saying we are to “pray in the Spirit” (to pray according the will & purposes of God).

Rom.4:20 makes a statement about Abraham.

“with respect to the promise of God, he did not waiver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.”

On one hand, I must confess that I struggle with this verse.

When we read the story of Abraham in the Old Testament is seems that he did indeed struggle or waiver at times.

He and Sarah even tried to help God along by having a child by the means of Hagar’s womb.

On the other hand, I delight in this verse because it overflows with the grace and mercy of God.

That God would guide Paul to record these words about Abraham reminds us that God sees the big picture.

Apparently, the key behavior on the part of Abraham was that he kept growing in His faith, despite his weaknesses.

How does David come to be known as “a man after God’s own heart”?

It was certainly not because he was sinless.  We know from Scripture that he had many weaknesses.

But, concerning David, God saw the big picture of his life.

That same thing can be said of every person that is listed in Heb.11 - - faith’s “hall of fame”.

How do we deal with the fallout and aftermath of our disobedience?  Do we get back up and walk again with God?

What we can conclude from this is that what matters to God is that “we keep on keeping on”.

One verse that has recently become especially meaningful to me is 1Pet.2:23.  It is stated concerning Jesus:

“He keep entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously”.


James writes (Js.5:16), “The effective, fervent prayer of a RIGHTEOUS man avails much.”

There is a real sense in which all Christians are declared to be righteous.

This is a legal, judicial or forensic declaration, “that we might become the righteousness of God IN HIM” (2Cor.5:21).

On our own merits, “none (of us) are righteous” (Rom.3:10), but when we stand in Christ, all of us made righteous.

Yet, God demands holiness and righteous living on our part (you shall be HOLY / 1Pet.1:16).

1 Jn.3:22 states, “whatever we ask we receive from Him,

BECAUSE WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS and (we keep) doing those things that are pleasing in His sight”.

All of us go through challenging times, difficult days, tumultuous events, happenings that rock us to our core.

The important thing is that we keep striving to follow Christ with a pure.

Heb.12:14 demands that we “pursue…sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”

Sanctification is a big word that simply means “holiness”.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear me” (Ps.66:18).

The 32nd Psalm gives us a pattern for how to pray when we are bogged down with a besetting sin.

David also wrote (Ps.34:15):  “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.”

When tragedy strikes or when we are deeply broken-hearted by our own sinfulness or that of one we hold dear,

we must resolve to “keep entrusting ourselves to Him who judges rightly”.

Such an “entrustment” requires of us a pure and sincere heart and that we continue walking in keeping with His will.

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