This is a chapter excerpted from Joel Hemphill's
"To God Be The Glory".
How Paul Prayed
“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's
sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together
with me in your prayers to God for me" (Rom. 15:30). "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:14).
In our effort to understand God the Father and His relationship
to our Lord Jesus Christ and to know to whom our prayers
should be directed, it would be helpful to study the prayers
of the great apostle Paul. He was a man mightily used of
God, "an apostle of Jesus" (II Cor. 1:1), "the
apostle of the Gentiles" (Rom. 11:13), "not a
whit behind the very chiefest apostles" (II Cor. 11:5),
and "was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable
words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (II
Cor. 12:4). He is a man certainly qualified to write on
the subject of prayer, and one whose example we can follow.
HOW PAUL SAID HE PRAYED.
First, let's look at Paul's writings and see to whom he
said he prayed.
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:14).
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always
in every prayer of mine for you all making request with
joy" (Phil. 1:3-4).
"We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, praying always for you" (Col. 1:3).
"For what thanks can we render to God again for you,
for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our
God" (I Thess. 3:9).
"Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness,
which causeth through us thanksgiving to God" (II Cor.
"I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my
prayers" (Phm. 1:4).
So Paul said in the six foregoing verses that he prayed
to God the Father. We know for sure that is what he said,
so that is what he practiced. I found 34 instances of Paul
in prayer in Acts and in his epistles, and we will look
at them in order to learn by his example.
In Acts Chapter 9, Paul (Saul) was on his way to Damascus
to persecute the Church and had an encounter with Jesus,
which left him blinded. He was led by his friends on to
Damascus and continued without sight, neither eating nor
drinking for three days. The Lord Jesus spoke to a disciple
of that city by the name of Ananias, telling him where to
find Saul, and to pray for him to receive sight. The Lord
said to Ananias, "for behold he prayeth." There
is no indication in this account as to whom he was directing
his prayers, but in his recounting of his conversion in
Acts 22, he gives this quote from Ananias to him.
"The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou
shouldest know his will, and see that Just One (Jesus),
and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth" (Acts 22:14).
"The God of our fathers" is the Hebrew God of
the O.T. to whom he probably was praying, but since it doesn't
say specifically who Saul was praying to, we will put a
question mark by the prayers at the time of his conversion,
until we see more clearly to whom he prayed thereafter.
We do know what Paul's first sermon was after his conversion,
for Acts 9:20 says that "straightway he preached Christ
in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God." Notice,
not that he is God, or the second person of the triune God,
but "the Son of God." This is the message that
he continued to preach throughout his ministry.
Now, for the second Bible account of Paul in prayer, look
at Acts 16 where Paul and Silas had been beaten and shackled
in Philippi, and thrown into jail.
"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises
unto God: and the prisoners heard them. (Acts 16:25). So
they sang and prayed to God.
Later in Acts Chapter 27, Paul was on a ship bound for Rome
as a prisoner, when they encountered a severe storm and
no one on board ate food for 14 days. Paul had a visit from
an angel of the Lord and was told that there would be no
loss of life. Paul spoke words of encouragement to all of
his shipmates and verse 35 says:
"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" (Acts 27:35). Again, "to
When Paul and his companions were safely back on land they
continued on their journey to Rome. Acts 28:15 says:
"And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they
came to meet us as far as Appi forum, and the three taverns:
whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage"
Now we will look at the accounts of Paul praying, as recorded
in his epistles, Romans through Philemon. (Since the authorship
of Hebrews is questioned by some we will discuss it in another
chapter). Because they are 30 in number we will only list
the location of each prayer and a quote from the Scripture
as to whom it was addressed.
Location of Prayer in Scripture To Whom it was Addressed
Romans 1:9-10 "God"
Romans 10:1 "God"
Romans 15:5-6 "God"
Romans 15:13 "God"
Romans 15:30 "God"
Romans 16:25-27 "God"
I Corinthians 1:4-9 "God"
II Corinthians 1:3-5 "God even the Father"
II Corinthians 2:14 "God"
II Corinthians 9:12-15 "God"
II Corinthians 13:7-9 "God"
Ephesians 1:15-23 "God"
Ephesians 3:14-21 "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"
Philippians 1:9-11 "God"
Philippians 4:20 "God our Father"
Colossians 1:9-12 "the Father" (God)
I Thessalonians 1:2-4 "God"
I Thessalonians 2:13 "God"
I Thessalonians 3:11-13 "God"
I Thessalonians 5:23-24 "God"
II Thessalonians 1:11-12 "God"
II Thessalonians 2:13-17 "God"
II Thessalonians 3:5 "the Lord...God"
II Thessalonians 3:16 "the Lord of peace"
I Timothy 1:17 "God"
I Timothy 6:13-17 "God" "whom no man hath
II Timothy 1:3 "God"
II Timothy 1:16-18 "The Lord" (God)
II Timothy 4:14-18 "God"
Philemon 4-6 "God"
It is very enlightening to look at these 30 prayers and
see that each one was prayed to God the Father. I cannot
find where Paul clearly prayed one prayer to the Lord Jesus;
it was always to God. Neither have I found where any other
apostle prayed to Jesus after his ascension, nor where any
N.T. writer told us to address our prayers to Jesus. The
closest thing I have found from Paul's writings, in regard
to a prayer to Jesus is in I Tim. 1:11-12:
"According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God,
which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus
our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful,
putting me into the ministry."
Is this a prayer or is it an attitude of the heart? You
be the judge. Look at verse 17 of this same Chapter:
"Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the
only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."
The "king eternal, immortal, invisible" is none
other than the Lord God, the Father, whom Paul called "the
only wise God."
Now let's look at how Paul spoke in regard to the prayers
of us, the Lord's saints:
"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer
and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be
made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth
all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through
Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).
"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. For this is good and acceptable in the sight
of God our Savior; For there is one God, and one mediator
between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Tim.
"Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks,
repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ"
Please note, our faith is toward our Lord Jesus Christ (in
the work he did on the cross), but our repentance is toward
"Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray
unto God uncovered" (without hair) (I Cor. 11:13)?
"Withal praying also for us, that God would open us
a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for
which I am also in bonds" (Col. 4:3).
"Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ"s
sake,...that ye strive together with me in your prayers
to God for me" (Rom. 15:30).
"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" (Rom. 14:6).
"For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every
knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to
God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself
to God" (Rom. 14:11-12).
The Lord to whom "every knee shall bow" in verse
11 above is the Lord God. Paul is quoting from Isa. 45:23
but look at verses 22 and 23 to see who was speaking:
"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the
earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn
by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness,
and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear."
And yes, one day every knee will bow to God"s son,
"Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him, and given
him a name which is above every name: That at the name of
Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things
in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue
should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of
God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11)."To the glory of
God the Father," for He is the one who decreed this
honor for His Son.
Look at I Cor. 14 and see that speaking in tongues is prayer
or praise to God.
"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh
not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him;
howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries" (v. 2).
"For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth,
but my understanding is unfruitful" (v. 14).
"What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and
I will pray with the understanding also" (v. 15).
"For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other
is not edified" (v. 17).
"But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence
in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God"
Luke the author of Acts agrees:
"For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify
God" (Acts 10:46).
I must confess that I have only seen these truths regarding
to whom we should pray, in the past few weeks. A few months
ago I was still praying to God the Father, and to Jesus.
Up until the last few years I had prayed to Jesus, believing
that he was in fact God the Father. My belief was called
"Oneness" or "Jesus Only." In another
Chapter I mentioned how I found the apostles’ prayer
in Acts Chapter 4 to God the Father, in "the name of
thy holy child Jesus: (v. 27, 30). That was the beginning
of my awakening.
I must say however that my family and I have had many prayers
answered through the years by praying to Jesus. We did it
in sincerity and God was gracious. In our ministry since
1959, through prayer we have seen healing for cancer, asthma,
Crohn"s disease, shingles and various other afflictions
and diseases miraculously through prayer. In our family
we have seen the dead raised to life again by calling on
the name of Jesus. We have seen marriages healed and lives
restored while praying to Jesus. But perhaps we could have
been much more effective if we had approached God in the
manner that He has prescribed in His word. In the past few
weeks, as I have begun to see how Paul and the other apostles
prayed, I became more aware of the public prayers of my
fellow ministers. In one service the minister who opened
with prayer prayed his entire prayer to Jesus. Three nights
later another minister addressed the opening of his prayer
to God and closed in the name of Jesus. In a wonderful service
in another church this week a fine brother started off praying
to "our Lord God"; later in the prayer he called
him Jesus and thanked him for dying on the cross. He ended
in Jesus name. Of course our "Lord God" did not
die on the cross, but our Lord Jesus Messiah surely did.
But we are learning. And as we do, I believe that God the
Father will require us to approach Him properly, in order
to see our prayers answered. There is a protocol to approaching
God. He is the Great King. We enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise; then we approach boldly to His
throne of grace, in the name of His son Jesus. (In Jesus'
righteous worthiness, claiming what he purchased for us
on Calvary, Isa. 53:5).
If you have ever had a prayer answered, God answered it!
"But my God shall supply all your need according to
his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Paul) (Phil.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is
no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James
Jesus prayed to God the Father always, and this was not
just a formality or to set a good example.
"And in the morning, rising up a great while before
day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and
there prayed" (Mark 1:35).
"And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed"
"And it came to pass in those days, that he went out
into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer
to God" (Luke 6:12). (Jesus prayed "to God").
"He took Peter and John and James, and went up into
a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his
countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering
(glistening)" (Luke 9:28-29).
"And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went
up into a mountain apart to pray" (Matt. 14:23).
"Then were there brought unto him little children,
that he should put his hands on them, and pray" (Matt.
"Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane,
and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and
pray yonder" (Matt. 26:36).
"And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and
his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down
to the ground" (Luke 22:44).
"Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered
up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears
unto him (God) that was able to save him from death, and
was heard in that he feared" (Heb. 5:7).
Jesus was a praying man and he prayed to the one whom he
called in John 20:17, "my Father and your Father; and
to my God, and your God." Prayer is a declaration of
dependence upon God, and Jesus always prayed.
Look at what he taught his disciples regarding prayer in
the closing days of his earthly ministry;
"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" (Matt.
"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" (Luke 11:13)?
Notice, "That ask him....your heavenly Father."
"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. If ye love
me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and
he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with
you for ever" (John 14:13-16).
Notice, Jesus did not say “ask me”, he said,
"Ask in my name." "That will I do,"
means he, Jesus, acts as the Father"s agent in answering
prayer. In Matthew Chapter 9 Jesus saw the multitudes as
sheep without a shepherd and he was moved with compassion.
He said to his disciples:
“Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest (not himself),
that he will send forth labourers into his harvest”
He is saying in essence:
“Pray to God about this problem.” (“My
father is the husbandman,” John 15:1).
"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" (John 16:23)
"Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: Ask, and
ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John
16:24). Jesus had not included his name in the prayer he
had taught them earlier called "The Lord"s Prayer"
"These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs:...but
I shall show you plainly of the Father" (John 16:25).
Jesus is teaching them something new.
"At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not
unto you, that I will pray the Father for you" (John
Notice Jesus words "at that day" and realize that
this was to be after Jesus went to the Father. Jesus prays
("to request, entreat, beseech") for us in heaven.
"I will pray for you." Look at Hebrews 7:25:
"Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession ("entreat
in favor of") for them."
"Who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh
intercession for us" (Rom. 8:34).
Jesus" closest friends knew that while he was on earth
he prayed to God for their needs. Look at what Martha said
at the tomb of her dead brother Lazarus:
"Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been
here, my brother had not died. But I know that even now,
whatsoever thou wilt ask God, God will give it thee"
Brethren we must learn the lesson that Jesus taught in John
16. God desires to answer our prayers, but we must pray
to God the Father, in Jesus name. Again, "in that day
ye shall ask me nothing." This is asking in prayer.
We all have lost loved ones, sick friends, we live in a
dying world, and Israel is still blinded to whom her Messiah
We need prayers answered!
"If any man be a worshiper of God...him he heareth"
(in prayer) (John 9:31). We must get our worship right!
"The Father seeketh such to worship him" (John
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that
giveth to all men liberally...and it shall be given him"
James says again (regarding the use of the tongue):
"Therewith bless we God, even the Father" (James
"And if ye call on the Father..." (I Peter 1:17).
"Ye also...offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable
to God by Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2:5).
"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the
Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Paul)
WHAT ABOUT OUR PRACTICE OF ASKING JESUS TO COME
INTO OUR HEARTS?
Let's see what Paul says:
"God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your
hearts, crying Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6).
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ...that Christ may dwell in your hearts
by faith" (Eph. 3:14, 17).
"Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and
hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given
the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (II Cor. 1:21-22).
As we end this chapter, let's look again at what Paul says
in Philippians 4:19:
"But my God shall supply all your need according to
his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
WHO WAS PAUL'S GOD WHO SUPPLIES ALL OF OUR NEED
BY CHRIST JESUS?
Verse 20 says:
"Now unto God and our Father be glory forever and ever.
Amen" ("One is your Father, which is in heaven"
- "Not any man hath seen the Father" - "I
ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and
your God") (Jesus speaking) (Matt. 23:9;John 6:46;20:17).
Let's pray to God the Father, in Jesus name. Paul did!