Sunday, July 29, 2012

Where Did Cain Get His Wife?

Where did Cain get his wife? This seems to be a question that plagues everyone.

Many people, including Christians have a problem accepting that the Genesis account is factual. First there is the problem of evolution vs. creation. That is a major article in and of itself, so for the moment we will not deal with that. Then there is the question, were Adam and Eve real? That question can be answered here in my article on them

The next question becomes “where did Cain get his wife?” For that matter where did Seth get his and all their children get theirs? In the Genesis record, we are told about Adam and Eve, and how they had two boys, Cain and Abel. Then we are told how Cain killed Abel. Then all of a sudden Cain is removed from the vicinity, gets married, has a child and builds a city. Genesis 4:16-17 “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.”

Now where on earth (literally) did Cain find a wife, and how on earth could he build a city with no people to populate it? If we stop right there and don't use our heads and the Scriptures to come to a logical conclusion, it would appear that the Bible either leaves a lot of information out, or is just a myth as some say. The answer is not all that hard, although it is hard for many people to accept, as they do not understand God's ways, nor do they understand God's method of telling history.

In Genesis 4 we start with the birth of Cain. Genesis 4:1 “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.” God has begun the historical story of Cain and Abel, and He is going to finish the story of Cain and Abel before moving on to the next story. So the story is told of how, after the boys were grown (“in the process of time”), they both brought offerings to the Lord. Cain presented a non-blood offering (had he also given a blood offering the fruit offering might have been accepted also) and Abel offered a blood sacrifice. It is apparent from the first sacrifice which was a blood sacrifice, to cover Adam and Eve, that a blood sacrifice would be necessary to cover their sins. Although not recorded in the book, it is obvious that the ritual of sacrifice was understood and had been taught to them, otherwise why would the two men offer them? Abraham offered blood sacrifices, Moses had to again teach the children of Israel about blood sacrifices, and it was the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ that was the final sacrifice given for mankind's sins. Blood sacrifices were something God had taught to those who believed in and loved Him from the beginning.

It was not only that Cain's offering was not a blood sacrifice, but it was also his heart's condition that caused the rejection. He deliberately disobeyed the rules God must have given them about a blood sacrifice to cover their sins, thinking that the offering he chose to give would be sufficient. He disobeyed the rules, just like his parents had. How often do we think that we know better than God about how things should be? We argue with His Word saying that we think certain things are acceptable, even though God makes it clear that some things are sins or are not acceptable no matter what we think. We determine that God will accept our viewpoint or behavior on these things or else. For example – homosexuality, pre-marital sex, abortion, etc. (There are articles on these found in my archives.) I don't think anyone has ever stopped to consider that God is thinking “or else what?” As if we can threaten Him? He calls the shots. He rules the universe. Exactly how is it that we think we are going to dictate to Him how things will be? But that's another issue. Let's get back to Cain.

So Genesis 4 tells the story of Cain and Abel from start to finish and beyond to the fifth generation of Cain's descendants. This small synopsis consisting of a few verses comprises the entire story of Cain's life and his achievements, as well as his descendants. Reader's Digest's condensed books can't hold a candle to God's condensed stories. From that point on, Cain's descendants are not mentioned in particular, although they populated the earth. His and his descendants stories are told and complete in one brief chapter. Then God moves on to the much more important story that will eventually lead to Christ, and we are told at the end of the chapter that God gives Eve another son to replace righteous Abel. His name is Seth. Genesis 4:25 “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.” Eve knew that God had promised a redeemer through her seed, and righteous Abel had been killed. Most certainly it would not come from Cain, so she understood that Seth was the replacement for Abel. Not as in simply a substitute of a child for a child, as children that we love dearly cannot be replaced in that sense, but in that a righteous seed through which the redeemer of mankind could come was replaced. We are not told exactly how old Cain and Abel were when this took place, (we can make an educated guess and will in a moment), but they were adult enough to be doing their own farming. Cain was a tiller of the ground and Abel a keeper of sheep. So on the face of it, it sounds as if no children were born to Adam and Eve from the time Cain and Abel were born, until Cain killed Abel. I say that, as the Scriptures seem to indicate this is the case in Genesis 5:4, but given the mandate from God to be fruitful and multiply, it seems a little odd that God would not have given them more children right away, as we do know that He did give them other children. But for the sake of staying as much with the indication of Scripture as possible, we will go with the premise that they had no more children until after Seth was born, which would have been after they were 130 years old.

Now we must take note of something. God tends to skip over many years without a thought. The boys were born in verses 1 and 2, and by verse 3 they were all grown up. So, many years may pass between verses. This seems to be the case with this beginning of humanity. Detailing every thing they did over many decades would not be very interesting, as the point of this narrative is to just give us a brief history of the world, and if there were only the four of them, (the other children not having been born yet), it would be rather boring. We find that in in verse 25, right after the story of Cain and Abel is concluded, we are told Eve gives birth to Seth. What are we told in the very next verse? “And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” It jumps right from his birth to the birth of his first son. So time is condensed in these early records and much is not divulged. We need to keep this fact in mind that God tells the early history of mankind in this manner.

Now we go to Genesis 5:4 “And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters.” Seth and Cain were not the only children that Adam and Eve had. They had other sons and daughters, as well they should, since God's mandate was that they be fruitful and multiply. If it were not that the verse seems to put these children after the birth of Seth (although that doesn't insist that they had to be born after Seth, it could just be two separate statements of fact., the first fact being that Adam lived 800 years after he had Seth, and the second that he had other children), one might easily assume that the other children were born between Abel and Seth, since Abel was an adult when he was murdered and that certainly was enough time for Eve to conceive again. After all, why the delay if they were supposed to fill the earth? The implication is also that if Seth were born that late, (130 years after creation) that Cain and Abel were probably at least 100 when Cain murdered Abel, as it seems that Eve conceived Seth right after Abel was murdered. Remember that Adam and Eve only needed to be nine months older than their firstborn, as odd as that may seem. Here I give them a good twenty-nine years before conceiving Cain, by assuming the boys were about 100 when the incident took place. I think that it is highly improbable that God withheld children that long, given His command. Adam and Eve were created as adults. They did not have to grow up first to have children. We might assume that these other children were born after Cain and Abel. Either way, Eve probably had not had children for a good many years when Seth was born, since either she had probably had all the children long before then, or she still hadn't had them at all. Since we are told that Adam was 130 when Seth was born, that was a long time for them to go without having more than the two boys. As God had mandated that they fill the earth, it seems rather strange that He would withhold children from them for many decades, as the first two boys grew up. But even if He did so, these two were not the only two children they had. They had more sons and more importantly, they had daughters. Rather than go with the more logical assumption that the other children were born between Cain and Abel, we will stick with the more difficult interpretation that the other children were born after Seth, just to show that it is still possible to make this work.

Just as the narrative jumps from Seth's birth in one verse to his son's birth in the next, skipping over a hundred and five years, it is just as logical to assume that many years might have passed between verse 4:16 “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” and verse 17 “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.” If over a hundred years passed between the statement that Seth was born and the very next statement that he had a son, why would not the same rule apply for the information about Cain. No doubt it did. It would make sense. And he obviously did not build the city until after his son was born, for he named the city after him. So we can see that time is somewhat condensed in God's narrative. If Adam and Eve had (just as an estimate) another eight children (which is not unreasonable as she had no fertility problems, God wanted the earth populated, and we are told that they had other sons and daughters – plural, which means at least four more children, but one assumes God probably evened out the boys and girls for procreation purposes which would mean two more boys and four girls minimum), when the girls were old enough they would have become their brothers' wives. (I realize this statement is making some of you nervous, we will deal with that shortly.) If they each had eight children (not an unreasonable number, in fact it is probably on the low side), and nobody died, it would not take all that long for the earth to be populated. Remember that people lived hundreds of years so the population would only grow exponentially, not decrease or stay status quo.

Let us consider how the population would increase. If Adam and Eve had nine children (counting Abel as number nine) and they paired off to four couples, (we are assuming that since procreation was God's plan that He would make sure there was a gal for every guy) and each couple had eight children, (not an unreasonable number), the third generation from Adam would create a population of 170 people. Eight children per family would not be unreasonable back then. These size families were not unusual years ago. They are today because we practice birth control and have fertility issues. They did not back then.. So by the fifth generation from Adam, roughly 460 A.C. (after creation) according to the genealogy in Genesis, using this formula the population would be over 2700 people. This is probably a very low estimate. Remember that God does not list all of the descendants, only the important ones. We can see that the population was growing quite a bit, and probably was greater than this in fact. As few people died the first almost 1000 years, (Adam lived to 930) in several more generations we are talking tens of thousands of people. More than enough for Cain to build and fill a city after a few generations. As people lived hundreds of years, Cain would still be alive quite long into these generations, so his city may have been built several generations from the time he had Enos. Now while all this is speculation, it is reasonable and logical speculation given the facts. This may be in part why God had people live so long (which was also attributed to the different climate and conditions on earth, but that is another article). We are not told when Cain got married, or when he built the city. His entire life is condensed to a couple of verses. His life from birth to murdering Abel is one small step, so why should not these other things also be?

But now I hear some objections. It says in Gen 4:17-18 “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.” So you say, they didn't have eight children each (remember that was just a conservative estimate, not a factual number) they only each had one. No, that is not necessarily what is indicated. The purpose of only mentioning each of these names is to show Lamech's lineage, because the next person of interest is Lamech (Cain's Lamech, not Seth's Lamech). Notice that in the the line of genealogies in Chapter 5, only one son (the oldest) is ever mentioned by name, but it also says “and he begat sons and daughters.” The other children did nothing of note that God felt needed mentioning. And in particular, Cain's line would not cross the Flood, (at least not the human ones, we don't know about the nephilim descendants), so it was completely irrelevant how many children he begat as God was not concerned with his line as He was with Seth's. Cain's one line of lineage was only mentioned at all because of what Lamech did and what his sons did. Lamech is the second murderer in the history of the world. God gives us the lineage to show that sin's effects are felt for generations to come. It is only Lamech's lineage that is important, not all of Cain's descendants. Remember that Adam's other children did not have their names recorded either. Lamech is also guilty of polygamy. He is a sinner of note and gets his mention in the Bible, as do some of his descendants who were the originators of several things of importance such as musical instruments and metallurgy. Again, we must remember that God had given the mandate for them all to procreate and not just one child, but to be fruitful and multiply. He would not withhold children from women who would have been very fertile.

Now the objection comes, but you are saying they are marrying their sisters, nieces, aunts, whatever. That is incest and God specifically prohibited incest. Yes, He did - to Moses and the Israelites and everyone thereafter. Up until then not only was it not forbidden, it was necessary due to the fact that Adam and Eve were the only two people starting the entire human race. Incest was forbidden more due to the fact that close inbreeding has bad results, (I believe they could still marry their cousins, although not an aunt, or daughter-in-law, so God still allowed close relatives to marry) rather than it being considered immoral by God, even though we cringe at the thought today. Abraham married his half-sister Sarah, and God had no problem with that at the time. Many of the patriarchs married close relatives, sisters, half-sisters, or cousins. Most times these ancient patriarchs only chose a woman from among their family instead of going outside of it, as they wanted women who believed and worshiped the same God. 

Seth's line was the only line that had any remnant of believers in it, and by the time Noah came along, his was the only family left of even Seth's line who was not wicked. One assumes that his wife must have also been his sister, as God tells us that Noah's bloodline was the only one left that was perfect in its generations. Genesis 6:9 “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” It already tells us that Noah was a just man, so this was not a reference to his spiritual state in saying he was perfect. Especially as it includes the word “generations.” That word indicates a genealogy. And the word perfect implies that everyone else had something wrong with their genealogy or bloodlines. By saying he was perfect in his generations, God meant that Noah's parents were the only family left with bloodlines untainted by the Sons of God who were fallen angels. These angels had intermarried and bred with humans to the point that there was no other family on earth that did not have some angelic blood in it. This too (the addition of a number of angels) would have made for a much greater population. The Book of Enoch says that these angels came down during Jared's day (he was born in 460 A.C.). This information from the Book of Enoch is not Biblical truth and should certainly not be treated as such, but it may still be an accurate historical time frame given what we are told in Genesis. For all the family lines to have been corrupted would have required some time. From Jared's birth to Noah's birth was almost 600 years. This would give them the needed time to corrupt the bloodline of every family on earth. (See my article on this

If Noah were the only man born with a clean bloodline, it follows that only his siblings also had clean bloodlines, hence he had to have married his sister. This was not forbidden at the time. So for Cain to marry his sister would not only have been acceptable to God, it is what has to have been done by virtue of no other answer. It was the answer for most of the early humans, as there was no other choice. There was not a separate creation of mankind or womankind to provide wives. He did not marry a primitive sub-human species (one did not exist in spite of what Arnold Murray teaches) and he most certainly did not marry an alien from another planet. The only possible answer, although I realize it is one people cringe at because of our views on incest, is that he married a sister, as did Seth and their other brothers and probably a lot of their descendants. Who else was there to marry? No one except family. The obvious answer is the only answer and the Scripturally correct answer. One must take into account that the timeline account in Genesis is highly condensed in the retelling and that Cain and Seth were not the only children that Adam and Eve had. So where did Cain get his wife? From his parents. She was his sister.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?

Abortion is an issue which creates a dividing line that seems to be deeper and broader than any other issue. People take one side or the other, but there does not seem to be a middle ground. And with good reason. Some people feel that it is nobody's business but the woman concerned, as it is an issue about her body and nothing else. The other side feel that it is a question of murdering an innocent child. So naturally there is no middle ground here. Before getting into this article, I wanted to share some stories.

There may be those who come here and ask by what right do I feel that I have to address such an issue. Have I ever been faced with a situation that demanded that this sort of choice be made? In fact I have and that is why I feel I have a right to talk about this. I did not get married and start my family until I was in my thirties. When I was pregnant with my third child (I miscarried my second child), because of my age, the doctors wanted all kinds of tests done. They wanted this, because it was their practice to protect themselves (understandably) from all these lawsuits that people are constantly making against doctors when something goes wrong, as if the doctors are God and can actually control every situation. Because these doctors did not want to proceed to care for a woman who had a pregnancy that was abnormal without taking legal precautions, they wanted me to take tests to determine if the baby was normal or had problems. I had already had a difficult first pregnancy and birth (my first child almost died), and lost the second child, so they were concerned about my pregnancy. Early on in this last pregnancy I had a test done to determine if the baby had Down's Syndrome. The test came back positive that this baby was going to have Down's Syndrome, and these doctors were big into abortion (unbeknownst to me at the time) so they started pressuring me to get one. My immediate response without any thought was, “No! Absolutely not,” as I believe abortion is murder. As a result, I had to sign a waiver that I would not sue them or hold them responsible for anything that happened in my pregnancy. I then had to tell my family and my husband's family what we were facing so that they would not be blindsided when the baby came.

Interestingly, the one side, who are not born-again Christians were very supportive and did not want me to abort, which I assured them I had no intention of doing. On the other side, who were born-again Christians, I had a mixed response. Some were supportive, and others wanted me to abort, and for selfish reasons which had to do with them, not me. They did not want to have to deal with a child who was not normal. It would be an embarrassment to them. To say that I was devastated by this response is an understatement. I realized that if God did decide that this baby was to be born with Down's Syndrome (regardless of what the doctors said, I trusted God that if He wanted it, the baby would be fine), that I probably would not be seeing these family members again with this attitude of theirs. As I was only in the very early stages, I had many months to agonize over what was coming. I did not know if I had what it took to be a mother to a child that would require so much, nor if I could handle the relatives who wanted no part of this baby if there was something wrong. I knew that God knew what was better for me than I did though, so I trusted. Now you might say, where was the difficulty in making the decision if you never questioned what your decision would be. Just because we choose to make the right choice does not mean that you do not agonize over that decision's consequences. I knew it was the right choice, but I was scared to death of what it might mean. What I did know was that I could not kill my baby.

Well, my baby was born, and in God's infinite wisdom and mercy, he was pretty much fine. He did have biliruben and had some small physical and learning problems, but other than that he was beautiful. I tried putting my children in a Christian school at first, but as my older son has Asperger's Syndrome, and this son had some learning problems, I decided to homeschool. Well, if you have read my other blog articles, you may already know that my sons (who went back into private school for high school) both graduated as the Valedictorians of their class, both got several scholarships to college, both graduated with multiple honors and awards, and both had difficult majors. The older one is an engineer, and the one about whom I am writing is a forensic anthropologist. Not shabby career choices. Both were respected and liked by not only classmates, but they both were greatly liked by their professors who made a point of telling me just how much they admired my sons. Both are wonderful Christian young men. Imagine had I aborted this wonderful child what would have been lost in this world. Who knows how many lives he may have touched so far and will touch in the future? Every person should look at the movie It's a Wonderful Life and think about how different life would be for people if they had not been there. Or if someone they love had not been there. Well, how many children who might have changed the world by finding cures for diseases, or saving lives, or who knows what, have been killed? I am not the only one who has been told that the baby was abnormal only to find out that the doctors did not know everything and that tests are not necessarily accurate. While at my obstetrician's office during this pregnancy, I had a chance to talk with a woman who had been given the same diagnosis as me, but who had opted to abort her child. After the abortion the doctors told her that the baby was actually normal and did not have what the tests said it did. She was so racked with guilt that she could barely speak of it without collapsing into sobbing. She will live with that guilt for the rest of her life.

I also have had several friends who have had abortions. And in every case they are extremely guilt-ridden and sad that they made this choice. And in one case at least, I think God punished her, for she could only conceive once more. God then closed her womb. I am always hearing about women who are filled with guilt over having an abortion and wish they could go back and not do it, but I have yet to hear from anyone that they are very happy that they killed their baby. The psychological effects of this procedure are devastating, but family planning/pro-choice clinics never tell the girls this, as they do not want the girls to change their minds. Nor do they tell the girls the truth about what is going on in their bodies nor what happens in an abortion. If most girls were even told this latter part, they most likely would never go through with it, which is why this information is withheld. Should not everyone be told, when they are undergoing a surgical procedure, what is going to happen to them. Should they not be told what is really going on with their bodies? Yet pro-choice advocates go out of their way to keep these girls from finding out the truth. If there is nothing wrong with abortion, as they claim, then why do they go to so much trouble to keep all this a secret? And why do they go after pro-life clinics to try to prevent them from showing the girls what the biological facts of their condition are, and what the procedure they are considering will do? Does not hiding truth about a medical condition and the surgery in question seem just a little suspicious as to motives?

To rectify that situation, before I even begin to discuss the spiritual ramifications of abortion, I would simply like to scientifically discuss pregnancy and the growth of a baby, and show (in a non-graphic way) what the different surgical procedures of abortion entail. The easiest way to do this was to find videos that show these things. With the wonderful technology today, it is possible to take pictures with tiny cameras in utero so that it can actually be seen how a baby develops and what may be too small to see, computer graphics do a good job of conveying. The first video that you should watch is the one I have linked below. It shows the development of a baby over the course of a pregnancy.

Now that you have seen the development of a baby, it can be seen that it is not a blob of tissue. Practically right from the start, and at the very least by the time a woman realizes she is pregnant, the baby is already looking like a baby with a body, little hands and feet, etc. Notice how quickly the baby goes from just a few cells to being a tiny little human being. In a matter of a few weeks there is a tiny human being living inside its mother.

Next I would like to look at the statistics of abortion to see how much it is occurring. The following statistics below were taken directly from:

As this is a Christian blog, I need to point out one of the statistics below. Notice that a full 18% of the women who have an abortion performed claim to be born-again evangelical Christians. This is simply more commentary on the state of Christianity today, that these women would even consider doing this.

Number of abortions per year: Approximately 42 Million
Number of abortions per day:
Approximately 115,000

Where abortions occur:83% of all abortions are obtained in developing countries and 17% occur in developed countries.
© Copyright 1996-2008, The Alan Guttmacher Institute. (
Number of abortions per year: 1.37 Million (1996)
Number of abortions per day:
Approximately 3,700

Who's having abortions (age)?52% of women obtaining abortions in the U.S. are younger than 25: Women aged 20-24 obtain 32% of all abortions; Teenagers obtain 20% and girls under 15 account for 1.2%.
Who's having abortions (race)?While white women obtain 60% of all abortions, their abortion rate is well below that of minority women. Black women are more than 3 times as likely as white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are roughly 2 times as likely.
Who's having abortions (marital status)?64.4% of all abortions are performed on never-married women; Married women account for 18.4% of all abortions and divorced women obtain 9.4%.
Who's having abortions (religion)?Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as "Born-again/Evangelical".
Who's having abortions (income)?Women with family incomes less than $15,000 obtain 28.7% of all abortions; Women with family incomes between $15,000 and $29,999 obtain 19.5%; Women with family incomes between $30,000 and $59,999 obtain 38.0%; Women with family incomes over $60,000 obtain 13.8%.
Why women have abortions1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient).
At what gestational ages are abortions performed:52% of all abortions occur before the 9th week of pregnancy, 25% happen between the 9th & 10th week, 12% happen between the 11th and 12th week, 6% happen between the 13th & 15th week, 4% happen between the 16th & 20th week, and 1% of all abortions (16,450/yr.) happen after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Likelihood of abortion:An estimated 43% of all women will have at least 1 abortion by the time they are 45 years old. 47% of all abortions are performed on women who have had at least one previous abortion.
Next I would like to look at the surgical procedures used in abortion. There are three types of abortions. The first is the curette or vacuum aspiration/suction. The following videos are not graphic, but are diagrams, drawings, or explanations using props of the surgical procedures, and therefore should not offend anyone's sensibilites. It is very important if you want to truly understand the facts that you view these videos.

This first video is of a procedure that would take place in the first trimester. It is a curette and vacuum aspiration abortion at 6-7 weeks.

This next video is of the procedure that would take place during the second trimester. It is abortion by dismemberment at 23 weeks.

This video shows how the partial birth abortion, which would be performed in the last couple months of a pregnancy would be done. This requires the actual delivery of the baby, except for the head, to be performed.

This last video is a doctor showing on a television screen an ultrasound video (which is black and white and very grainy as ultrasounds are) of an actual abortion taking place. It is not gory and actually it is hard to see anything, but the description of the event is valuable for seeing what actually takes place. Again, the purpose for showing all these videos is to simply give the factual scientific information about the medical condition of pregnancy and the surgical procedures of abortion. They are the factual biological and medical truth of pregnancy and what happens in abortions. It is nothing more than medical information.

A real video via ultrasound of an actual abortion.

Now that you are armed with the medical facts, and having watched the videos (I am assuming you did), we are ready to move on to what the Bible says about babies and how God feels about abortion. You can see in the first video that an in utero baby is not a blob of tissue as abortion proponents would have you believe. From three weeks on, the baby's heart is beating and by two months (generally a women is about this pregnant before she even realizes she is pregnant) the baby is beginning to look like a baby. Notice that at nine weeks in the video the baby appears to be sticking his thumb in his mouth. So scientifically, you have now seen what a baby looks like during gestation. Is it a blob, or is it a baby? Obviously it is a baby, practically from the first moment it is conceived. It is its own person, having its own body, brain, heart, and eternal spirit. The first few are obvious, but how can I make such a statement about the latter? Because God tells us so. He knows all of us from the moment of conception, from our mother's womb.

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Judges 13:5,7 “For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines......But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.

Judges 16:17 “That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

Psalms 22:10 “I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.

Psalms 71:6 “By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.”

Psalms 139:13 “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.”

Isaiah 49:1 “Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.”

Not only does God know His chosen from the womb, He also knows the wicked with whom He will never have a relationship from the womb. They are known to be His enemies before they are even born. Every baby is known by God, whether they will be His chosen or not.

Psalms 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”

The reason God knows us from the womb, is because God is the one who forms us in our mother's womb. It is not simply a matter of biology. He opens the womb and he shuts the womb. He knows us before we are even conceived, and for Him to know us, we must be an eternal spirit. He has ordained everybody's life from the beginning of creation. He has sanctified his chosen ones before they even come out of their mother's womb and as said before, He knows His enemies before they are born.

Everyone knows the story of Abraham and Sarah. Sarah had been childless all her life. In their old age, the Angel of the Lord came to visit them, with two other angels, before going on to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. During the course of the visit, Sarah was told that she would bear a son to Abraham. She was ninety years old at the time the promise was made that she would bear a son in the following year. Genesis 18:11-14 “Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Genesis 21:1-2 “And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.”

Clearly God was the one who created Isaac in Sarah's womb, for she was well past childbearing years. There were many times this was the case in Scripture that God opened and closed wombs. This is still the case. I have known women who were told by doctors that they would never have children, but bore several in fact. One sought my advice after she had been asked by a man to marry him. She was in her mid-thirties and had been told that she could never have children and felt it was unfair to marry him under the circumstances. I told her I had known several women in that situation, and that they had had children, because children were given by the Lord, not just a biological process. I advised her to trust God and marry him. She did and was pregnant before the honeymoon was over. She also found herself pregnant a second time soon after the first was born. This in spite of the doctors' guarantee that she would never have children.

Genesis 20:18 “For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.”

Genesis 29:31 “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.”

Genesis 30:2 “And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?”

Genesis 30:22 “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.”

Genesis 49:25 “Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb.”

1 Samuel 1:5-6 “But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb. And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.”

Job 31:15 “Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?”

Isaiah 44:2 “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.”

Isaiah 44:24 “Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.”

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

So God is the one who forms the baby. It is not just the result of a sperm and egg uniting. As He is forming a new person, it is clear that the baby is not just a part of the mother's body, but a separate individual with a spirit and life of its own, given by God. And that gift of a baby is supposed to be a blessing from God, a heritage and reward, not something you should throw away, or in this case, kill.

Psalms 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

But let us return to the facts for a moment. Abortion proponents say that the fetus, which I prefer to call a baby, is not its own person, but a part of their body, as if it were a functioning part of their body like any other organ. Really? It would seem to me that if it were a functioning part of their body, and not a separate organism, it would have been functioning from the beginning and would function to the end of their lives. It is a part of their body only in that the eggs, which are the genetic material for the children which God will create, are hosted within the reproductive part of their body, and this reproductive part of the body becomes active for a number of years within a woman's life. But these eggs, this genetic reproductive material is discarded by the body every month from the onset of menses until menopause. The entire purpose for these eggs existing is for the creation of another individual, not for any purpose for the woman. She does not need this reproductive system at all to live. The fact is, these eggs were only put there by God, so that there could be procreation by a man and woman to carry on mankind, since we die (and He knew in advance we would). Each egg is a potential person if God decides to use it to create a spirit. It is completely non-essential to the woman. The woman is merely a holding vessel for the eggs until the time for them to unite with a sperm and become a separate individual takes place. Then the woman becomes an incubator for the baby.

If it were not true that the baby is a separate person, then babies could not be conceived outside of the womb, and clearly in this day and age they are. In fact, if an artificial incubator were created that could supply all the needs the developing baby has, a woman would not even be needed. So to say that this separate individual is a part of her body, that she owns it and has a right to say what happens to it is completely wrong. It is its own person and has its own rights. And while our government has ordained that these babies' lives can be taken by their mothers with the help of a doctor, the fact remains that legally if someone causes a woman to lose her baby against her will, or steals that baby before birth through violent means, the perpetrators can and have been found guilty of murder and kidnapping. How on the one hand can our government find someone guilty of murder, if a woman loses her baby before it is born as a direct result of something they did, as it is classified a person, and yet if the woman decides to take the life of the baby herself, it is no longer a person but a blob of tissue? Why exactly does this difference exist? If it is a person in the one case, why is it not a person in the second case? It is not considered a person in the second case, because mankind has decided to justify their sin of murder.

Make no mistake. Abortion is willful murder. A baby is hosted by the mother for the first nine months of its life until it is sufficiently developed to function without the help of the mother's body. It is no different from a person being kept alive by machines. The machines do not own the person whose life they are supporting. Neither does the mother own the baby's life in the sense that it is part of her body which she has the right to destroy. Abortion is the wanton destruction of another innocent person's life. It cannot be anything else, as the choice to kill the baby is a deliberate one that is planned by the mother and her doctor. And do not think that God will not hold the doctor's, nurses, and anyone else involved in the death of this child as guiltless. God will punish them accordingly. The baby has not done anything to be guilty of execution. He has committed no crime, in fact he has committed no sin. He cannot defend himself, so he cannot stop the assault against him. He has not assaulted the mother in any way, so she is not killing him in self-defense. It is not manslaughter, as it was not an unintentional death. The only phrase that applies here is premeditated murder. What does God say about premeditated murder?

Exodus 20:13 “Thou shalt not kill.”

Deuteronomy 5:17 “Thou shalt not kill.”

Matthew 5:21a “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill.”

Mark 10:19 “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.”

Luke 18:20 “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.”

James 2:11 “For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.”

And what is the penalty for premeditated murder in God's eyes? Death.

Leviticus 24:17 “And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.”

Numbers 35:30 “Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.”

Matthew 5:21 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.

God's judgment for this sin is death. If one were to follow the lives of the women and doctors who take these children's lives, what would they find happens to them? I know what happened to one doctor who did this. I was not aware of his penchant for liking to not only perform abortions, but for performing partial birth abortions – illegally. He was caught, convicted, and lost his license to practice the last I knew. God stopped him.

While killing anybody, child or adult bears the punishment of death in God's eyes, He especially hates it when someone hurts an innocent child. They are to bear a special punishment for this sin and crime. The sacrificing of children (and that is really what abortion is, a sacrifice on the altar of selfishness to Satan) was something that Israel was guilty of participating in when they adopted pagan ways. They would offer their babies to be burned on the altar of Molech. How anyone could do this to a live baby is unthinkable, and I am sure that even pro-choice people would cringe at seeing a live baby tossed on a burning fire, yet is that not what abortion is? Offering a live baby to be killed? It is especially heinous when the baby is full-term in a partial birth abortion. This child has the ability to feel pain just as you and I do. How would you feel if someone jammed a pair of scissors up the back of your neck into your head and started cutting up your brain? Do you think you'd feel pain? Do you think you'd be terrified? That is how they do these late term abortions. These little ones have angels that watch over them, and these angels report to God what you do to them. He is well aware of who is hurting His little ones.

Mathew 18:10 “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 18:6 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Mark 9:42 “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”

Luke 17:2 “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”

God especially does not like it for a child to die as a result of something we do.

Matthew 18:14 “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”

While abortionists and these mothers would never say that they are offering these babies as a sacrifice to Molech, that is exactly what they are doing. Satan wants these children dead. He uses selfishness to achieve this end. The statistics said that 93% of abortions are done because the baby is an “inconvenience” or simply “unwanted.” Every abortion is a sacrifice to him, which is really what a sacrifice to Molech was also. Just because they let the children be born before they threw them on the fire and nowadays they kill them before they are born (sometimes the baby is nearly completely born) and don't burn them but cut them into pieces, it does not alter the fact that it is a sacrifice to Satan.

Leviticus 18”21 “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.”

Leviticus 20:2-5 “Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name. And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.

Notice that last section of this passage which is in bold print. If the people of the land hide their eyes or turn a blind eye to this horrific sin, God will be against that sinner, his family, and all who go along with this, among all the people in the land. America (and every other country) be forewarned. God is very angry over this. The world is going to be seriously punished for this sin. Look back at how many babies a day are being killed in the world. 115,000 a day. 115,000 babies are being murdered in this world every day. In this country (when these statistics were taken) it is 3,700 every day. Do you think God is going to ignore this and leave it unpunished? You had better read those verses above again about what He wants to do to those who hurt little children. And these statistics are only about abortion. They don't begin to cover all the abused children. Continuing on with God's mandates on this issue.

2 Kings 23:10 “And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.”

Jeremiah 32:35 “And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”

As said above, God will not leave a land unpunished who is guilty of this sin.

Amos 1:13 “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border.

In fact the punishment may very well fit the crime by being the very crime itself. He has used the very sin a people have committed as the punishment they will suffer at the hands of their enemies.

Hosea 13:16 “Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”

Isaiah 13:18 “Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.

Is a baby aware while it is still in utero? They are saying that babies know their mother's voices and that playing music and reading books, etc. is having an effect on the baby. Is there anything in Scripture that indicates that a baby is aware while in its mother's womb? Yes, in fact there is.

Luke 1:41 “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.”

Luke 1:44 “For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

Infertility seems to be becoming a serious problem with many women these days. Why is that? Is it because it is a punishment for sexual promiscuity and all the abortions that they are having?

Hosea 9:14 “Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.”

So first we have seen that a baby is a baby almost from day one. It is not just a blob of tissue as pro-choice people would have you believe. Next we see that this is at epidemic proportions in this country as well as around the world. This sin will not go unpunished. Then we have seen the horrible, heinous three ways that a baby is ripped apart and killed when it is an “inconvenience” for the mother. Lastly we have seen what God has had to say on the matter.

Now there are some cases that people would say do not fall into this category of “inconvenience.” What if the mother was raped and the child is the result of that? Or what if the mother's life is in danger?

In the first instance, rape is not a reason to kill a child. Remember the above verses. God is the one who opens the womb, so if a rape results in a pregnancy, one must accept that this is God's will and the child will be a blessing. One always has the option of giving a child away in adoption. As infertility is a serious problem, there are many people longing to have a baby who would jump at the chance to adopt an unwanted child. The important thing is to give the child life.

As for what happens if a woman's life is in danger, I can only offer a Scripture verse and recommendation that you have the Lord as your Savior so that you can claim the promise in the verse. 1 Timothy 2:15 “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” Our lives are in God's hands and we have an appointed time to die. If we are meant to die, then will it matter if it is in childbirth, or if it occurs some other way at that appointed time? Do you want to die with murder to your account? We must trust God, and I know if the doctor has given someone bad news, that is not easy to accept. Everyone wants to live. But God is a God of the impossible, and doctors are not God. They are wrong many times, so you trust your life to God.

One last story that I want to share is about my cousin. Many years ago, when she was pregnant with her first baby, she went into early labor five months into her pregnancy. They were unable to stop the labor and she gave birth to a one pound baby girl. At that early stage, few babies survive as their lungs and other organs are not fully developed enough to live outside of their mother's womb. But people prayed. And this little girl came home a few months later, a beautiful perfect little girl. In fact a few weeks ago I saw this lovely young lady who just recently had her first baby. Many women are having abortions at this stage of their pregnancy with the idea that it isn't a baby. It is “a part of their body.” Well the fact that this young woman lived outside her mother's womb four months earlier than a normal baby does shows that a baby is a live baby very early on, and with medical help can grow and develop outside the mother's womb, thereby showing it is not a part of the mother's body. It is its own person and to kill it is simply outright murder.

The last thing I want to share is a picture that became well-known a number of years ago. It was the picture of a baby in utero being operated on for spina bifida. He reached out of the mother's uterus and grabbed the doctor's finger. There has been much debate over whether the baby grabbed the doctor's finger, or the doctor grabbed the baby's hand. You look at the picture and decide which is taking place. The real point is, look at the hand. That is a baby. Not a blob of tissue.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Is Contemplative Prayer Scriptural and Acceptable to God?

Counterfeit money has always been an ongoing problem for banks and the government mints. Much has been done to change money to make it impossible to counterfeit, but it seems that no matter how much they change money to make it more difficult to copy, the counterfeiters continue to think up ways to beat the system. To try to mitigate this problem as much as possible, banks teach their people to immediately recognize counterfeit money. And how do they do this? By having them study lots and lots of counterfeit money? No. They teach them to recognize counterfeit money by having them study and study and study real money. Once a person knows the real article so intimately, a copy or false article immediately stands out as having something wrong. Even if they do not immediately recognize what the problem is, their subconscious recognizes that there is a discrepancy and bells and alarms go off in their heads telling them something is wrong. In time by studying the money, they discover what set off those alarms. The lesson to be learned here is that to recognize a phony or false representation of something, we must have intimate knowledge of and experience with the real thing. Just ask antique dealers. Only in knowing the real thing so well will our subconscious warn us that something is amiss, even if we do not immediately recognize what the problem is, and we, like the bankers, can make sure that we are not cheated or bamboozled by the phony article that can cost us dearly.

To that end, before we can discuss contemplative prayer, we must first examine the real thing. But before doing that there is a major fact about praying that everybody should understand. If you do not know the Lord as your God and Savior, if you are an unbeliever, your prayers will not be heard by God at all, and even a Christian must be in good standing of righteousness to be heard. Proverbs 15:29 “The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.”

To find out what the real article of prayer is and what God expects and wants in the way of prayer, we need to look at the Bible and see what it says about prayer and how we are to pray. Before getting into the components of prayer, we need to see if our physical presentation is of any importance. We see in the Bible that prayer can be offered in a number of different positions. We can stand. Nehemiah 9:5 “Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” Luke 18:10-13 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

We can kneel when praying. Ezra 9:5 “And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God.” Luke 22:41 “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed.” Acts 9:40 “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” Acts 20:36 “And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.”

We can sit when we pray. 1 Chronicles 17:16 “And David the king came and sat before the LORD, and said, Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” This verse is followed by a more lengthy prayer by David. 2 Samuel 7:18 “Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?”

We can bow our heads down when we pray. Genesis 24:26 “And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD.” Exodus 34:8-9 “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

We can bow down to the ground and lie prostrate. Genesis 24:52 “And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.” 2 Samuel 12:16 “David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.

We can pray with hands lifted up. Nehemiah 8:6 “And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” 1 Timothy 2:8 “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Men should have their heads uncovered, and women should have their heads covered. (See my article on Headcoverings for more on this subject  ). 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.”

These then are the physical postures mentioned in the Bible for praying. As this covers just about every physical posture we can easily do – standing, sitting, kneeling, lying prostrate, heads bowed, and hands lifted (optional) we can see that God cares much less about our body's position than He does about the content of our prayer. So now we need to see what the characteristics of a prayer, as the Bible teaches, are.

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus explains to His disciples how they should pray. Probably the most famous prayer in the world is the prayer that Jesus used to teach his disciples how to pray. We call it the Lord's Prayer, and it is recited in many churches every Sunday. We find this prayer in the passage in Matthew 6:5-13 (as well as in Luke 11) “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

What are some things we learn from this passage? We learn the following:

  1. Do not be hypocritical by making a big show of doing it. Do it in secret and privacy where you can be honest with God. He knows everything anyhow.
  2. Do not use repetition, especially vain repetition. What is vain repetition? Vain repetition is words that have no content or meaning behind them. They are simply words that are recited mindlessly with no intelligent communication to God in them.
  3. Be respectful to God, acknowledging who He is, and your relationship to Him.
  4. Praise Him.
  5. Show Him your desire for His kingdom (and Christ's return) to be implemented and that God's will may be done now and in the future here on earth as it already is in heaven.
  6. Make your supplications known. This includes supplications for yourself which should be not for the luxuries of life, but that God would supply your needs, as well as intercession for the needs of others.
  7. Confess your sins and asking for forgiveness asking for help in forgiving others of the sins they have committed against you.
  8. Pray that God will keep you from being tempted to fall into sin,

One thing that is not readily apparent is that we should also include thanksgiving in our prayers for all the blessings that God has given us. What else does Matthew 6 teach us about prayer beyond the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples? Well, quite a bit in fact.

First, there are several types of prayer. The first distinction is between public and private.

Yeshua had this to say about private prayer. Matthew 6:6 “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” When we are having our own personal time with the Lord, we are to go somewhere where we will not be disturbed by the constant interruptions of life. In this day and age having any time of quiet is a hard thing to find. Especially for a family with younger children. We have much demanding our time – work, home chores, children, social obligations, church obligations, etc. Most people find that they have very little time left for the Lord, and if they do find some time, generally it is not without interruptions like telephone calls and the like. God wants our full attention and we need to find a quiet time and a quiet place to spend time with Him. Personally I find that I can stay much better focused if I speak my prayer aloud rather than just think them silently, and I need to be very honest with God which means that I would prefer not to be overheard, so getting alone in a very private quiet place is really essential. This generally means for me that I have to do this in the early morning or late at night. I would imagine that this is true for most people, as the cares of life tend to take up the rest of the day. I happen to live out in the country, so another private time for me is when I go out to hike through the fields or walk on the road. There is very little traffic and somehow for me I feel closer to God when I am out in nature.

Does this mean that we should always and only pray in private? No, Yeshua also said this. Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Clearly prayer of two or more is also important in that Christ is in the midst of them when they do pray. And there is an added benefit of having someone praying with you in agreement with the prayer. Matthew 18:19 “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” When two people are praying for the same thing, it generally is not about something selfish, which can happen when only one person is praying, so God sees that it is important. Notice what the promise is. He has promised that if two people are in agreement there is a good chance God will do it for them. So it can be seen that if two agree on something, how much more powerful would it be if a group of people agree on the prayer?

There is more to this passage in Matthew, but that will be left until later in this article, as it is a crucial piece of information about what classifies as the real article of prayer, as taught by God and Yeshua.

Continuing on, prayer, as shown by Christ's example above, has different parts to it. The first part should be our praise and adoration of God, as demonstrated by the Lord's prayer. When Zacharias got his power of speech back after John the Baptist was born, the first thing out of his mouth was praise for God, as it should be out of our mouths. Luke 1:64 “And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.” When the blind man was given his sight back, what was the first thing he did? “And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.” We are always being given blessings by God, so the first thing we should do when we speak to Him is praise Him. When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison, what did they do? Acts 16:25 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Hebrews 13:15 tells us “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” It would appear that we are to be praising God continually, so most certainly it has to be a vital and prominent part of our prayer life.

1 Timothy 2:1 gives us some other important characteristics of prayer. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.”

We can see from this verse that another part to prayer is thanksgiving. Before we start making requests, does it not seem right that we should take the time to praise and thank God first? Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” When we pray, no matter what the prayer is for, we are to offer it along with thanksgiving. How much more would you answer your child's request if first they made a point of acknowledging all that you have already done for them or given them? God is no different. He likes to know we appreciate and acknowledge all that he has done for us. My two adult sons have a terrible habit which drives me crazy. They procrastinate. I found it especially annoying that this habit found its way into many of their school assignments even through college. From the time they were little, we had a practice of going to God with every little problem and He in His infinite wisdom when they were little, had a habit of always answering their requests. I believe He did this to increase their faith. Unfortunately, He overdid it, as they both now have the attitude that God will handle everything and they don't have to worry about it. While this is a good attitude to have – not to worry, I don't think God intended to teach them to be irresponsible and leave things to the last minute. Yet He continues to pull, as they tend to put it, their “fannies out of the fire.” I guess He continues to do it, as they never take the credit for anything they do, but constantly give Him the glory for everything they achieve, for they know that they could not have done it at the last minute without His help. To date, they have been extremely successful in school and the older one in work. The younger one just graduated college and is looking for work in a field that is quite closed at the moment, but given God's history with them I have no doubt the perfect job is right around the corner. Obviously praise and thanksgiving has made a difference in their lives, even if I think they are pushing it just a little.

One thing that we should daily give thanks for is the food we eat. Without God supplying our needs in this respect we would starve to death. Christ gives us this example of giving thanks over food when He fed the multitudes with the loaves and fish, Matthew 15:36 “And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.” (Also found in Mark 8:6 and John 6:11.) Yeshua also gave thanks and blessed the bread and wine at the Last Supper. Matthew 26:27 “ And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.” Luke 22:19 “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (Also found in Mark 14:23, Luke 22:17, and John 6:11.) Paul also reminded us by example that we should give thanks over food. When he was being taken to Caesar and the ship was in trouble he told the soldiers that they should eat and not worry. Acts 27:35 “And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.” He continued to mention the importance of thanking God for food in the following verses. We are to thank God whether we are eating or not eating something in particular, or even fasting. Romans 14:6 “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” 1 Timothy 4:3-4 “ Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.

While Paul does mention food a number of times in regards to thanking God, we are to thank God for absolutely everything. And further we are to offer our thanksgivings in the name of Jesus Christ, which is why most people end their prayers with some form of the following phrase, “in Jesus' (or Yeshua's) name. Amen.” Colossians 3:17 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” All things, no matter whether good or bad, deserve our thanksgiving, for all things in a Christian's life are controlled by God and allowed by Him for our good. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Colossians 4:2 “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” In fact the things that should come out of our mouths most of the time are praise and thanksgiving, not what seems to come out of a lot of Christian's mouths. Galatians 5:4 “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” and again Hebrews 13:15 “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” So all prayer should have as a mandatory part of its core being, thanksgiving as well as praise.

The next component of prayer according to Scripture is confession. Confession is necessary for salvation and continual forgiveness of sins. Confession is made to God as a part of prayer. Romans 10:9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 4:15 “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” While confession of our sins is made to God, we find help in being accountable and getting much needed help in conquering our sins, if we confide our problems and needs to others and ask for intercessory prayer. James 5:16a “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.”

A vital part of prayer, and a part that will probably take up most of your prayer time is that of intercession. We are told that we are to pray for other believers and we should pray for the salvation of unbelievers also. The above James 5:16a tells us to pray for each other as does 1 John 5:16. “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. Paul asks for intercessory prayer in 2 Thessalonians 3:1 “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.” He also offers intercessory prayer for others. 1 Thessalonians 1:2 “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.

The Scripture is full of examples of people praying for others right from Genesis onward. In Genesis 20, Abraham had passed Sarah off to King Abimelech as his sister. As she was beautiful, Abimelech took her. He was visited by God who said He would destroy not only him, but everyone who belonged to him, but that if he gave Sarah back to Abraham and Abraham prayed for him, all would be well. Verse 7, 17 “
Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.......So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.” Intercessory pray can be found from that point on all through the Scriptures. The number of examples one can find are so abundant that is apparent that God expects us to intercede for others.

For unbelievers there are several things for which we can pray. We are to pray for the salvation of those who do not believe. Matthew 9:38 “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2 “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
We should pray for their deliverance from demonic control. Matthew 17:21 “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29 “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
One of the ways that we can intercede for other Christians is for their healing. In James 5:14-15 we see that one of the directives that God gives us for healing is something that is ignored by much of the Church. “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” If someone is sick, they should call upon the elders of the church to anoint him and offer intercessory prayer on his behalf. Prayer for healing, if offered in this manner by faith, will save the sick. And not only his sickness will be healed, but he will be forgiven his sins. This would seem to be contingent, though, upon the rest of the instructions in the passage, for the verse that follows these verses is one we have seen before. James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Notice that for the forgiveness to be extended, confession of our faults to others must be acted upon. Sometimes sickness is a result of sin, therefore for the elders to be effective in anointing and praying, part of the healing process must be confession of sins.

Some other things for which we should offer intercessory prayer are the following:

For our country – 2 Chronicles 6:38-39, 7:14 “If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee........If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Our country will only be healed of its problems when its people humble themselves, get on their knees and pray for it. As our country has a serious problem with arrogance and disrespect toward God, I do not see this happening. Our country can expect that God will continue to chastise us until He finally gives up and simply pours out His wrath.

For our government and officials – Ezra 6:10 “That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” Why should we pray for our government and officials? Because God has given them authority over us. Romans 13:1-8 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”

For those under our authority – 1 Samuel 12:19 “And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.” Paul prayed for those under his shepherding. 2 Timothy 1:3 “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.”

For your enemies/unbelievers – Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Another part of pray has to do with our own personal problems, needs, and desires. It can be called requests, petitions, or supplications. 1 Timothy 2:1 “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” Notice the parts of prayer that Paul outline in this verse. These are the parts we have covered. Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Supplication means to ask for humbly or earnestly. This is how these requests should be made known to God, along with thanksgiving as before mentioned. The areas that our petitions should address are the following:

Forgiveness for our sins – Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Luke 11:4a “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. ” Both of these verses are part of the Lord's Prayer. Clearly we need to be asking for forgiveness, but there is something more required to obtaining God's forgiveness. Notice all of these following verses.

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Matthew 18:21-35 “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”

Mark 11:25-26 “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. ”

Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”

Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”

Not only is our forgiveness of others important in our own forgiveness, it is also important in getting them their forgiveness from God.

2 Corinthians 2:10 “To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ.”

Another part of our petitioning is for deliverance from temptation – Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Luke 11:4b “And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”

Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. “

Mark 14:38 “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”

Luke 22:40 “And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”

Luke 22:46 “And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The only way to escape temptation as seen by the many above verses is to pray to escape it, for God makes a way for us to escape it. He promises this again in this next verse.

2 Peter 2:9 “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”

Why is it so important to pray to escape temptation? Because there is great reward – a crown of life.

James 1:12 “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

We need to pray for our daily needs. God is our supplier of all our needs, but we need to let Him know what we need and want (even though He has knowledge of our needs before we even ask, He still likes to be asked.) Matthew 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread.” Luke 11:3 “Give us day by day our daily bread.”

Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

We need to pray not only for others healing as illustrated earlier in intercessory prayer, but for our own healing from sickness and suffering. James 5:13 “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.”

The one prayer that God will always answer in the affirmative is one for wisdom. As long as you have faith it will be answered. James 1:5-7 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

We should always be praying for guidance, as God does not force His will upon us, but waits upon us to ask for it. The disciples prayed for guidance in choosing a replacement for Judas. Acts 1:24 “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen.”

Christ prayed for the Father to send the Holy Spirit to guide us. John 14:16 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” It is the Holy Spirit who guides us.

John 16:13 “
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

Psalms 25:9 “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

Psalms 313 “For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.”

Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”

We need to pray to escape the coming Great Tribulation (pre-tribs do not believe they will be here, but they will. Read my articles on that here,
or go to my other blog that teaches Bible prophecy

Matthew 24:20 “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.

Mark 13:18 “And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.”

Luke 21:36 “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

Prayer is needed for protection.

Psalms 91 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”
Now that we have seen all the many things that we need to be including in our prayers, we need to see how to get the answers we desire. There are some requirements that must be met to gain God's approval and some hindrances that prevent God from even hearing our prayers.

We must be pure of heart, so we must purge ourselves of sin, confess, and repent. Psalms 66:18-19 “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.

We must pray with faith and belief. Matthew 21:21-22 “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Mark 11:24 “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

We need to pray according to God's will, not our own. 1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”

We need to pray fervently and with persistance. James 5:16b The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:17 “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.”

Luke 18:1-7 “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

Luke 11:5-13 “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

As already mentioned before, things must be asked in Christ's name. John 14:13-14 “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” John 16:23-24 “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

We are to pray without ceasing. (not necessarily for specific petitions, although you can do that as the woman in the parable, but as an action). 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

We should pray with pure motives, not out of selfish desires. James 4:3 “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

We need to pray with forgiveness toward others. This was already covered above where we were told that if we do not forgive others, then God will not forgive us. (See above for references).

We need to pray with humility. Luke 18:10-14 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

We need to pray in unity with other believers. We have already seen this verse before. Matthew 18:19 “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”

There is one more thing in this list of do's as to how we are to pray, but I am leaving that for the end as it is the crucial point in this article. Having covered the do's, we need to look at the do not's. There are ways of praying that hinder or completely prevent our prayers from being heard. Some of these are the opposite of the do's (makes sense), but need to be adhered to as much as the do's must be.

Do not pray self-righteously. We know that we should pray with humility, but God also hates people who pray with arrogance, self-righteousness, and pride. What is important to remember when praying in private or in public, whether in a group situation like a prayer meeting where all take a turn, or when leading a prayer for a congregation is to avoid a show of the aforementioned attitudes. Matthew 6:5 “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Luke 18:10-14 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

We are not to make an ostentatious show of praying. It is arrogant and attention getting, and this is not pleasing to God, for in so doing one is trying to put on an air of self-righteousness, which then makes one hypocritical. We are to be humble when praying, not looking for people to be impressed with us. The place that I tend to see this happening is not only in churches, but out in restaurants. While we should thank God for our food, even when out in public, we should not do it ostentatiously by praying very loudly so everyone can hear, as if that is some sort of testimony. I have seen many people do this thinking that they are being a good witness, when in fact it is not. It is a show of self-righteousness and it does not impress people. Plus, it hinders our prayer. Far better to bow heads and quietly pray so that only those at the table hear it. You should not be drawing attention to yourselves, but show a humble attitude that people might notice. They will know you are praying and realize that you are probably a Christian. You don't have to announce it to the world that this is what you are doing. The one thing that people notice is the attitude with which you pray. If you are carrying on like some sort of old-time revival preacher with a loud roaring voice and showmanship attitude of piety that smacks of phoniness, you will do more harm for the Lord than good. If on the other hand when you are asked to pray publicly for a group you do it with a quiet humble attitude, moderate tone of voice, and behavior that does not look like a side show in the circus, you will reach people's hearts, and the Lord will hear you.

Men, do not to mistreat your wives. 1 Peter 3:7 “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

Do not disobey God's laws, as this will cause our prayers to not be heard. Proverbs 28:9 “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”

Do not refuse to help others in need and turn a deaf ear to their cries for help or God will do the same to us with our prayers. Proverbs 21:13 “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

Do not doubt God can do anything. James 1:6-7 “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”

Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

Mark 10:27 “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

1 Timothy 2:8 “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Now we come to the last two things about prayer that need to be discussed. One is a "do", and one is a "do not". The "do" can be found in 1 Corinthians 14. The church at Corinth was having a problem with people abusing the gift of tongues. It had gotten to the point where people were all babbling at the same time, without the benefit of anyone interpreting, and it was chaos. Paul chastised them for this behavior, not only for speaking in tongues in general this way, but for praying in tongues in this manner. Verses 14-15a “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also.” Paul points out to them that prayer without any understanding on our part is unfruitful. How can we address all the things about which we are supposed to be praying – praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, and supplications, if we do not have any thought or intelligent thinking behind it. It is just mindless babble which could be anything. This is sort of both a "do" and a "don't". We are to pray with intelligent thought behind what we are praying and not just what appears to be meaningless babble. This is more of a danger than just mindless jabbering though. I knew of a case where people were speaking and praying in tongues, and nobody was translating or interpreting it within the church, but a visitor happened to be there that day and recognized one of the languages being spoken. It was Latin and the person, whether knowingly or not I do not know, was saying, “Satan is my master, I love Satan.” over and over. This is why Paul warned against speaking and praying in tongues that were unknown and not translated. So the lesson he was teaching here was, pray with meaning, understanding, and intelligence. This is necessary if we are to pray the way Yeshua taught us to pray.

The last thing that Yeshua speaks of in the passage in Matthew 6 is very pertinent to the subject of this article. Matthew 6:7-8 “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” I have left this to last, because it addresses the very problem found in contemplative prayer, vain repetition. We are not to use meaningless repetitive words like the heathen. In fact we are specifically told to not pray in this manner, for it is the manner of the heathens. It is meaningless rattle as far as God is concerned, because He knows what you need, and is simply waiting for you to ask for it. Meaningless babble or even repetitive prayers that say the same thing over and over are as meaningless to Him as they are to us. Most people repeat these kinds of prayers with no active mind engagement anyhow.

The last thing that needs to be addressed before moving on to examining contemplative prayer is the Biblical definition of meditation, for meditation is a huge part of contemplative prayer.

Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Psalm 1:2 “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

Psalm 77:12 “I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”

Psalm 119:5 “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.”

Psalm 119:48 “My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.”

Psalm 119:78 “My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.”

Psalm 119:148 “Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Psalm 143:5 “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.”

1 Timothy 4:12-15 “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

In each and every case above, meditation does not refer to an emptying of the mind, but an active engagement of the mind. Meditation as used in the Bible is the old school definition, which means to think, ponder, consider, and have discourse on a subject. It is anything but inactive. The only definition of meditation by Bible standards is that we are to actively think about, consider, ponder, and dwell upon God's Word, His laws, His precepts, His works, His attributes, and etc. After reading a passage of Scripture, we should not just shove it out of our minds, but keep it there to consider and think about what it says, what it means, how we can apply it to our lives, and to pray about it.

Now that we know of what real prayer and meditation are according to the Scriptures, we can examine contemplative prayer and see if it passes the test of being real or is a counterfeit. To do this, we must see what contemplative prayer is.

The following information about the history of contemplative prayer was found at and

Centering Prayer (which is the first step in contemplative prayer) is drawn from the ancient practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the traditional monastic practice of Lectio Divina and the practices described in the anonymous fourteenth century classic The Cloud of Unknowing and in the writings of Christian mystics such as John Cassian, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, and Thomas Merton.

In the 1970s, answering the call of Vatican II, three Trappist monks at St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, Fathers William Meninger, Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating, looked to these ancient sources to develop a simple method of silent prayer for contemporary people.

As abbot of St. Joseph's Abbey, Fr. Keating attended a meeting in Rome in 1971. At the meeting, Pope Paul VI called on the members of the clergy to revive the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in the lives of both monastic and lay people. Believing in the importance of this revival, Fr. Keating encouraged the monks at St. Joseph's to develop a method of Christian contemplative prayer with the same appeal and accessibility that Eastern meditation practices seemed to have for modern people.

In 1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God.

He quickly began teaching contemplative prayer according to The Cloud of Unknowing at the Abbey Retreat House. One year later his workshop was taken up by his Abbot, Thomas Keating, and Basil Pennington, both of whom had been looking for a teachable form of Christian contemplative meditation to offset the movement of young Catholics toward Eastern meditation techniques.

This form of meditation is known as “Centering Prayer”. The following information on centering prayer comes from

Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.

Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer — verbal, mental or affective prayer — into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him. The source of Centering Prayer, as in all methods leading to contemplative prayer, is the Indwelling Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The focus of Centering Prayer is the deepening of our relationship with the living Christ. The effects of Centering Prayer are ecclesial, as the prayer tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love.

As this type of prayer began with the Catholic church, the directions for practicing this type of prayer reflect that ideology. According to the directions in an audio on the way to begin centering prayer is to have had confession first. Then find a comfortable, quiet place to sit. You are not to kneel, as you are to be as comfortable as possible. Then meditate (empty your mind) so that you can feel a stirring of love for God. Pray a very short prayer, in your own words, or if you have a short prayer you can recite it. This is supposed to put you in God's presence. Do not think about God, or His attributes (praise), or doctrine (God's precepts), or making petitions (whether intercessory or for yourself. You are not to do anything active, as these things are useless for this process. Thinking or remembering are obstacles as they clutter your mind, so empty your mind of them. You are not to dwell on God's attributes, (no praise, no thanksgiving) as they are of no use. You should rest (empty not engage) your mind. Contemplatives are not to pray in words. (No communication.) If words are used, it should only be one word (a mantra) such as God, Abba, or Father, and you repeat this over and over. Nothing else should be done. You should focus your attention on experiencing God's presence and not think about anything or anyone.

Now that we have seen what the people who teach this have to say about the history of it and centering prayer, we need to move on to contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer is not what the word might suggest, contemplating while you pray. It is in fact the opposite. After spending a few minutes in centering prayer (chanting the mantra), the contemplative is to sit still, keeping their mind blank and experience God's presence, listening to see if God speaks to them. It is a receptive, passive form of prayer, not prayer that goes out to God. This should be done twice daily for 15-20 minutes. In time God will draw you to the point where you do not even need to chant the word to “enter into God's presence.” [This entrance into God's presence may take you out of your conscious self.] To end your contemplation, you need to say a vocal prayer such as the Lord's Prayer (or some other prayer such as one to Mary) as this is necessary to bring yourself back to consciousness, as this practice tends to lift you out of everyday consciousness. When distracting thoughts come, you need to ignore them.

So we now have via the teachers of this style of prayer themselves, a definition of what these prayers are. Having shown at the beginning what real prayer is according to the Scriptures, does this look like the real thing, or a counterfeit? Let us examine it more closely.

Actually, it cannot truly be defined as prayer, as the definition of prayer is “A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” Prayer requires an active, thought-filled communication to God. This is not active, it is not thought-filled, and it is not communication. It was created to simulate and be like the meditation practices of Eastern and New Age religions. This was how this type of prayer was designed. To give the people the trappings of the Eastern religions so that they would not leave the church, but put a Christian twist on it. Are we as Christians supposed to adopt pagan practices and incorporate them into our worship? It seems to me that Israel did this quite a bit and look at how many times God punished them for it. God does not want us adding pagan practices to what He tells us to do. As this entire type of prayer in its conception was designed to simulate a pagan method of prayer, we should not be participating in it. It was said that the information on this type of prayer came from an anonymous source. Anonymous source? How do we know what beliefs this anonymous source may have had. They may have been into Eastern mystiscim, and if fact it appears that they were, so using this as a model is highly suspect. But does the problem end there? No it does not.

Contemplative prayer is supposed to be a mystical experience. Mysticism is based upon feelings that one experiences though and has nothing to do with the facts or truth of the Bible. Many people are choosing to leave studying God's Word and real prayer behind to submerse themselves in this new contemplative prayer, abandoning all the Biblical ways we are told to pray and worship God. They want the experience, no matter how wrong it may be, over the facts and truth of what the Bible teaches. God warns that abandoning and ignoring His word will have serious consequences. Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

This prayer is deliberately designed to lead away from active modes of prayer – verbal, mental, affective prayer. Ones in which you praise, thank, confess, intercede, and petition God. Wait, I think they misspelled that word affective. It should have read effective, because I think this prayer is deliberately designed to make your prayer life ineffective. It is supposed to lead you away from conversation with Christ to “experiencing” him. This in turn is supposed to deepen one's relationship with Christ. It will hardly do that, given what is taking place in contemplative prayer - absolutely nothing. It has rendered your prayer life completely ineffective in every way and does nothing for your relationship with Christ except in your imagination. How better could Satan be served than to take away one of our two offensive weapons against Him (the other being the Word of God). He has corrupted God's Word with these bad modern translations of the Bible (see my article on the KJV Bible ) and doctrines of demons, and now he is rendering our prayer lives ineffective to combat him. This type of prayer comes straight from the pit of hell.

Let us take a look at the practice itself. It starts with confession. Well, confession is an appropriate part of prayer, but not in a confessional to a priest who absolves you of sin by having you recite some vain repetitive prayers, but in active, mind-filled, spontaneous prayer to God. Then one is supposed to find a comfortable place and sit. While one can sit and pray, one can also kneel to show respect, or stand or even lie prone. In contemplative prayer only sitting is acceptable, one is in fact told not to kneel, as if there is something wrong in bowing your knee to God. Then one is supposed to empty their mind. Now we know that this is definitely against what Scripture teaches, as we are to pray with understanding. We are to be talking to God, praising Him, thanking Him, confessing to Him, asking for intercession for others, and making our own petitions. The last thing we are supposed to do is empty our minds. And why is that? When adopting the practice from Eastern and New Age religions, the originators of this neglected to see what the purpose of emptying the mind was. It is for the purpose of allowing spirit guides (demons) to enter into their mind and take over. Is that what a Christian should be doing? When we open ourselves up by emptying our mind, we allow demonic infestation. It is an extremely dangerous practice. Further, after emptying the mind, the person is told to chant a mantra (vain repetition, which we are specifically told not to do). Now in these mystical religions, the mantra one chants is usually the name (sometimes unbeknownst to the chanter) of a demon whom they are summoning to come and enter their emptied mind. This also has the added “virtue” of sending a person into a trance-like state. This obviously is happening to Christians using this type of prayer, as the directions say that after you have spent your 20 minutes in contemplation you need to bring yourself back to your conscious mind by praying a prayer aloud. Why would you need to bring yourself back to your conscious mind, if you have not been in a trance? The answer is, you wouldn't. So going into a trance is apparently quite common. When in a trance, a demon has full control over your actions. Is this what a Christian should want?

In every facet of contemplative prayer, it fails the test of what real prayer is. It is completely unScriptural and in addition is very dangerous. But putting aside all that for a moment, let's look at it from another point of view. God's view.

As Christians we are supposed to be the Bride of Christ, so let's think of our relationship as a marriage, which it is supposed to be. Now think about a marriage. Let us say that you are married and that every morning when you get up, instead of your spouse kissing you good morning and talking to you, asking how you slept, what you were going to do for the day, etc., suppose they did the following. They get up, completely ignore you by not talking to you at all, walk over to a comfy chair in a corner, close their eyes, mumble something under their breath, which is not really aimed at you, and start chanting your name over and over for several minutes. Then they are perfectly quiet for 15 more minutes or so. Then they recite something, get out of the chair and get ready to do whatever they are going to do for the day. They continue to ignore you, but when asked by someone during the day how you are, they answer that you are fine, because they experienced your presence that morning, and all was well with the world. Then they come home, continue to ignore you and before bed go through the same routine they did that morning. Now, do you feel like they've “experienced” you? That they know you? Or do you feel like you have been completely ignored and are unappreciated? Do you know how they feel about you? Have they told you? Have they said anything about how they appreciate something you may have done for them? Have they asked you for any favors? Have they asked you how you are? Have they told you how anyone else is that they have seen that day? Have they brought you their concerns, their joys, their hurts, their worries? Have they told you they loved you? Have they said anything at all in fact to you? No. Do you feel loved? Of course not. You feel hurt and ignored, don't you? Wouldn't you hate it if your spouse did this day in and day out and constantly were saying how they were showing you their love and experiencing you, when in fact they were not communicating to you at all? They don't know you at all? Well how do you think God feels? He's a person too, you know. He has feelings too. He gets jealous, and angry, and hurt, and grieves, and feels everything that we feel. Where do you think we get these emotions? We are made in His image. If you are practicing contemplative prayer, then shame on you. Go ask God's forgiveness and start talking to Him.