Prayer is probably the most important doctrine for the church today and is the most neglected of all. I too am negligent in prayer. But I praise my God that he is merciful and gracious unto us even when we fall short in prayer.
In the writings of Paul he makes mention of the terms of prayers 28 among the 13 books he wrote that is an average of 2.1 times in each book he penned. He gives instruction to pray or makes mention of his prayer or the prayer of others or a prayer request at least once in each of the books he was inspired to pen. That makes it a doctrine for the body of Christ.
One of the thing I learned about prayer is this. Nowhere in all of the Holy Bible is prayer ever mandated. It is never commanded or forced upon Israel or the Christian church, the body of Christ, the fulness of Him or anyone. This marks a major difference between the God of the Bible and all other so called gods in every world religion. In each of the major and sub major religions of the world their god or gods require their followers to pray unto them. But the God of the Bible never makes prayer a requirement, mandate or a command.
Why is that?
Because real true prayer is a heart condition, it must be of a free and willful heart that is desiring God to hear and to help. Mandated prayers become ritualistic and routine. Here is what Jesus Said about this type of prayer. Matt 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. You see the true and living God already knows what you have need of, and what your situation is. What he wants is a person whose heart is turned to him in sincerity and truth, broken and humble willing to come to him in faith. Psalm 34:17, 18 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. God is not near them who offer mandated and commanded prayers he is near them that are broken heart and contrite spirit. So a man can be commanded to pray many times a day but the true and living God is not the one that commanded that. That would make it a doctrine of man but it is not a requirement or a doctrine of a Holy and righteous God.
An interesting note is that prayer or any of its terms are only used 3 times in the books of the law of Moses and only in Numbers just making mention of Moses praying. I would tend to guess that the reason prayer is not mentioned in the law is that prayer cannot be commanded. It must be voluntary, it must be from the heart, it must be from a person wanting to communicate with God. God will hear the prayer of a lost person to be saved, and once that takes place then they are through Christ given direct access to heaven to pray but a lost person is not limited to just the prayer of salvation see the word study below as it indicates that anyone can pray unto God if their heart is in the right place. And even then I would think by my own experience that prayer must be in God’s will, one should be spiritually willing to hear and be under conviction of the word of God, and ones prayer should be Biblical. So right heart, right motive, right desire, and his will all play a part in God hearing and answering our prayers.
I. How to pray
A. Physical Position
Mt 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.
Lu 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
1Kings 8:22 ¶ And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: . . 1Ki 8:54 ¶ And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. Solomon went from a standing position to kneeling during this prayer.
2Chron 6:12 ¶ And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands:. . . 2Ch 7:1 ¶ Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.
Mr 11:25 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.
2) Kneeling with hands spread
1Ki 8:54 ¶ And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. Started his prayer standing and ended on his knees but his hands were spread the whole time.
2Ch 6:13 For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven,
Ezr 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
1Ch 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? . . . 1Ch 17:25 For thou, O my God, hast told thy servant that thou wilt build him an house: therefore thy servant hath found in his heart to pray before thee. David was sitting before the Lord when he prayed.