Public Prayer Observations

Wow, where did the past few weeks go?! Last night I finished doing the simple observations of who, what, when, where, why and how in regards to the examples of public prayer I found throughout God’s Word. View all of the verses on prayer that I gathered for reference and future study, including prayers such as intercession, fasting, confession, supplication, praise etc.

I say “simple” observation because in reality to truly dive in and study each of the passages below you’d have to observe keywords, repeated phrases, the who, what, when etc. for multiple subjects referenced and more. The observations below are a vital part of the Tim Tebow and praying in public study…I captured these observations over the past couple of weeks so I’ll take a bit to look over them again, pray and ask God’s Holy Spirit to teach me as I observe them all together. Observing them together will help us take them into context.

If you are interested in doing a similar investigation instead of just “taking my word for it” then please do! If you find any verses that I missed, please let me know. In regards to personal Bible study, I highly recommend the Precept Ministries book, “Lord, Teach Me How to Study the Bible in 28 Days” by Kay Arthur. It really helps you practice the carefull steps of observation and study which can lead to sound interpretation when studying God’s Word. When we approach God’s Word, it is good to be humble and to take it very seriously with a healthy recognition that apart from God we are in darkness, yet we shouldn’t be afraid of studying the Word of God, He made it available to us – praise the Lord! Let’s listen to Him instead of our hearts though!

1 Samuel 2:1-10
Who: Hannah
What: Worshiped the Lord in prayer in the presence of her husband and Eli the priest
When: When she brought her son Samuel to the temple to dedicate Him to the Lord
Where: at the Lord’s House in Shiloh
Why: God had answered her prayer of sorrowful and distressful supplication that she made a few years earlier during the family’s yearly sacrifice. He caused her to be able to conceive a son in spite of her barren womb so she jubilantly worshiped the Lord when she brought Samuel to Him as she had vowed to do.
How: With rejoicing and exultation.

2 Samuel 15:25-37 (31)
King David
What: David prayed for God to turn the counsel of Ahithophel to foolishness.
When: Upon hearing that his trusted counselor, Ahithophel, had sided with Absalom to give him counsel.
Where: While climbing the Mount of Olives barefoot and weeping in escape from Absalom.
Why: Because his son Absalom had turned the hearts of the people against David.
How: Right then and there, “on the spot”, immediately, however you want to say it David prayed right away and then when we got to the top of the mount, he worshiped God in spite of the events taking place and the new he’d just received.

Note: God answered David’s prayer through Hushai the Archite and the priests.
Significant Details:
1. David’s immediate response to betrayal by a close counselor was prayer. He publicly relied upon and turned towards God as the supreme counselor.
2. David publicly and genuinely worshiped God in spite of the betrayal of men and of is own son.
3. David publicly humbled himself before God’s sovereignty and authority and recognized and submitted to God’s will. He trusted God. All of this is evident when David says of the Lord…”If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, He will bring me back and let me see both it [ark] and His house. but if He says, I have no delight in you, then here I am; let Him do to me what seems good to Him.”

This is all quite astounding taking in that David was king over a nation during a historical time period when kings could pretty much do as they pleased and some even considered themselves to be deities, it is also astounding taking in that God has anointed David as King and promised Him the throne with descendants. If David’s heart had been untrue towards God or if there had been lingering seeds of pride, arrogance or idolatry in David’s heart this trial could have easily made David turn His back on God and choose to distrust the Lord. Instead David humbles himself before the people and worships God. Now I am starting to understand why God called David a man after His own heart…how I long to have that same heart in me because I think of how far off from this I am! I am convicted and rightfully so.

1 Kings 8:22-54, 2 Chronicles 6:12-42
King Solomon
What: Worshiped God and prayed for him to hearken to the prayers of God’s people and of strangers when they pray towards Gods house, recognizing that God cannot be contained but as a symbol of faith. Prayed for God to hear and to forgive, save, deliver and/or heal in accordance with their hearts since God alone knows the hearts of men.
When: At the dedication of God’s house built in Jerusalem and the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant (symbol of God’s presence) into the Holy of Holies.
Where: In front of God’s house in Jerusalem
Why: Recognition, worship and dedication.
How: Solomon stood and then knelt before the Lord’s burnt offering altar in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and prayed with his hands spread forth toward heaven. Solomon was on a bronze scaffold that measured 5 cubits wide and 3 cubits high in the midst of the court.

1 Kings 18:30-39
What: Gathered all Israel and the 450 Baal prophets and 400 Asherah prophets of Queen Jezebel. Had the 850 prophets pray to Baal and Asherah for them to send fire from heaven for the sacrifice and then Elijah prayed to God to send fire from heaven. God did send fire and it not only caught the sacrifice on fire but consumed it, the altar, the water and dust around it.
When: At the end of a 3 1/2 year famine that God sent due to the idolatry and evil of Ahab, Jezebel and the people and after Jezebel had killed all of God’s prophets except for Elijah.
Where: Mt. Carmel
Why: To prove to the people who the true God was. Elijah did all of this because God told him to
How: At evening, after the 850 prophets prayed from morning to evening, cutting themselves it was Elijah’s turn. He repaired the altar of the Lord, building it with stones and had a trench dug around it. Then he had it drenched with water. After this Elijah prayed for it to be known that God was God, publicly recognizing that God had told him to do all of this and for God to hear his supplication.

1 Chronicles 29:10-20
King David
What: Praise and recognition, thanksgiving, supplication for guidance and for the purity ad commitment of his son Solomon and of the people toward God.
When: At the offering which was to provide for the building of God’s house
Where: In Jerusalem (28:1)
Why: During his rejoicing with the assembly because of the generous offering of the people and since they gave willingly with a whole and blameless heart, offering freely to the Lord (v 6-10)
How: Prayed to and blessed the Lord before all the assembly which consisted of the leaders of Israel, officers of divisions, stewards of property/livestock, people who held places of office and mighty men/warriors.

1 Chronicles 29:10-20
all of the assembly (vs 20)
What: blessed the Lord, (corporate prayer, since studying public prayers made by David in same chapter included these observations too, see more examples of corporate prayer).
When: At the offering which was to provide for the building of God’s house
Where: In Jerusalem (28:1)
Why: Because of the generous offering of the people and since they gave willingly with a whole and blameless heart, offering freely to the Lord (v 6-10)
How: bowed down and did obeisance

2 Chronicles 7:1-4
All the people of the assembly of Israel, a great assembly
What: Praised and worshiped God (corporate prayer and worship, their prayers are linked to the public prayer made by Solomon in 6:12-42, see more examples of corporate prayer).
When: At the dedication of the temple, after Solomon finished his prayer of dedication God sent fire from heaven and consumed the burnt offerings and sacrifices and God’s glory filled the house of the Lord.
Where: In front of God’s house in Jerusalem
Why: Because of who God is and what He did
How: They bowed down with their faces upon the pavement

2 Chronicles 20:1-29
King Jehoshaphat
What: Recognition, quoted in part King Salomon’s prayer of dedication, presented situation to God and asked for guidance. Verse 12: ” We do not know what to do but our eyes are upon You.” He publicly humbled himself before God and sought Him as their hope for deliverance.
When: Threatened by a great multitude from Edom
Where: The House of the Lord
Why: Because Moabites, Ammonites, Meunites coming against Judah
How: Stood in the seemly of Judah and Jerusalem and prayed

2 Chronicles 20:1-29
People of the cities of Judah
What: Seek the Lord
When: they were threatened by great multitude from Edom
Where: in the House of the Lord
Why: Because Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites coming against Judah
How: Stood before the Lord

Significant Details: God’s Spirit came upon Jehaziel in the midst of the assembly and spoke in response to Jehoshaphat and the people’s prayers. Got told them to:
-Be not afraid
-The battle is not theirs but the Lord’s
-Gave the directions on where to go and what to do.
When God spoke in response to them King Jehoshaphat and all the people fell down with the faces to the ground and worshiped God.
Sure enough the multitude was encamped in the wilderness of Tekoa where God told His people they’d be. King Jehoshaphat appointed singers to go before the army praising the Lord and when they began to worship God then God took the battle into his own hands the multitude from Edom self slaughtered based on fears of betrayal so when God’s people reached the watch tower they saw their dead bodies all over.

Ezra 9:1-15, 10:1
Ezra, a scribe who set his heart to seek the Law of the Lord and to do it and to teach it in Israel.
What: He prayed a prayer of confession, confessing on behalf of the nation since they had again forsaken God’s commands in spite of God’s recent mercy.
When: Ezra reacted immediately, as soon as he was told from the officials that the people, priests and Levites had taken heathen wives for themselves directly violating God’s commands.
Where: Before the House of the Lord.
Why: Because the Israelites intermarried, again, even after their forefathers were punished and in spite of God’s mercy.
How: With a large group gathered around him, Ezra publicly rent his outer and inner garments, pulled hair from his beard and sat appalled all day till the evening sacrifice before praying. He knelt on his knees, spread out his hands to God, addressing God personally and confessing on behalf of the nation with weeping.

Significant History: A few years early God stirred the hearts of some of the Israelites in Babylon to return to Jerusalem when, upon being charged by God, Cyrus the king of Persia declared for God’s house in Jerusalem to be rebuilt. Ezra went to Jerusalem after the house had been rebuilt in the 7th year of Artaxerxes.

Significant Notes:
Ezra does not ask God to forgive them in his prayer because he recognized that true reconciliation with the Lord required true repentance which is marked by actual change in actions as well as verbal confession. Ezra genuinely and passionately confesses the sins and then he works with the other officials to begin the real life repenting action throughout the people. Ezra was in tune in how serious sin is – I pray for God to help me to be appalled at my own sin and to not only confess the sin but to also take on “active repentance”, turning away from that sin and clinging to God (Joshua 23:8).

Nehemiah 8:1-6
Ezra and the Israelites
Worshiped and blessed the Lord
Ezra the scribe stood above them at a wooden pulpit and opened the Book of the Law, reading it to them from early morning to noon.
In Jerusalem, in the broad place before the Water Gate
At the opening of God’s Word and when Ezra blessed the Lord
Stood at the reading of God’s word and when Ezra blessed the Lord they answered “Amen, Amen” and worshiped God with uplifted hands and bowed heads with faces to the ground.

Nehemiah 9-10
What: Fasting and Confessing (corporate prayer and fasting, since studying public prayers made by the Levites and Ezra in same chapters included these observations too, see more examples of corporate prayer).
When: Last (8th) day of the Feast of Tabernacles, during solemn assembly
Where: Jerusalem
Why: The people of Israel initially mourned and wept when they first heard the words read and taught to them and then in order to keep that day holy they rejoiced and praised the Lord since He had given the law to them (ch 8). After this when the priests and Levites gathered with Ezra to study and understand the Book of the Law they found out about the Feast of Tabernacles so they held it as commanded. On the 8th day, a Sabbath, after 7 days of rejoicing they held this solemn assembly to seek God and make a covenant with Him.
How: Fasting in sackcloth and with dirt on their heads. During the fast they spent 1/4 of the day reading the Book of the Law and another 1/4 of the day they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.

Nehemiah 9-10
Who: Levites
What: Blessed and extolled God
When: Last (8th) day of the Feast of Tabernacles
Where: On the stairs of the Levites during the solemn assembly in Jerusalem
Why: The people of Israel initially mourned and wept when they first heard the words read and taught to them and then in order to keep that day holy they rejoiced and praised the Lord since He had given the law to them (ch 8). After this when the priests and Levites gathered with Ezra to study and understand the Book of the Law they found out about the Feast of Tabernacles so they held it as commanded. On the 8th day, a Sabbath, after 7 days of rejoicing they held this solemn assembly to seek God and make a covenant with Him.
How: Cried out with a loud voice.

Nehemiah 9-10
What: Prayer of recognition, praise, worship, remembrance of Who God is and what God had done, God’s faithfulness, justice, righteousness and mercy. Also confession, humbleness and made a covenant with God. Prayed publicly on behalf of everyone there.
When: During the solemn assembly, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Where: Jerusalem
Why: Ezra had been reading and teaching God’s law to the people each day of the Feast of Tabernacles, then on this last day, they solemnly confessed theirs sins, worshiped God and made a covenant with Him.
How: While fasting in confession and worship with the people and Levites.

Daniel 6:1-13
Daniel, an exile*.
What: Gave thanks to God and made prayers of supplication to Him.
When: Three times a day, everyday, even after a law was passed that made it punishable by death to worship anyone or anything else besides the king for thirty days.
Where: At his open chamber windows, which faced in the direction toward Jerusalem. (Remember, King Solomon had prayed that when God’s people were in exile for God to hear them and deliver them when they prayed to Him, and as a token of their faith faced towards the temple in Jerusalem).
Why: Daniel was not afraid or ashamed to worship God even if it meant death by lions. He put is faith in God and continued to worship Him publicly as had been his habit before the law was passed.
How: On his knees

*Significant Note: God doesn’t always protect His followers from suffering or being taken into captivity or on the flip side, no matter if you are carried off into literal captivity that is no excuse to stop seeking, worshiping and obeying God. Daniel was an exile, in the land of Babylon, yet the book of Daniel shows how much glory God received from the exiles who believed and followed God wholeheartedly even if it meant risking a painful death. God was glorified when he protected Daniel from being eaten by the hungry lions, after this King Darius wrote a declaration to all people, nations and languages (in his realm which was very big) for…”in all my royal dominion men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for He is the living God, enduring and steadfast forever, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed and His dominion shall be even to the end. He is Savior and Deliverer, and He works signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth-He Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions”.

Luke 2:21-35
Simeon, righteous man, looking for the Consolation of Israel, Holy Spirit upon Him. God had divinely revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One.
What: Praised and thanked God saying, “And now, Lord, You are releasing Your Servant to depart in peace, according to Your word. For with my eyes I have seen Your Salvation,which You have ordained and prepared before all people, A Light for revelation to the Gentiles and praise and honor and glory to Your people Israel”.
When: When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for Mary’s purification and for Jesus to be dedicated to the Lord in accordance with the Mosaic law.
Where: In the temple enclosure in Jerusalem.
Why: God revealed to Him Jesus was the Messiah and the Holy Spirit upon Him prayed prophetically through Him.
How: He took Jesus up in his arms

Luke 2:36-38
Prophet Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She had been married only 7 years before becoming a widow for 84 years. She stayed in the temple enclosure worshiping day and night with fasting and prayer.
What: Returned thanks to God.
When: When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for Mary’s purification and for Jesus to be dedicated to the Lord in accordance with the Mosaic law. She came up at the same hour as Simeon.
Where: In the temple enclosure in Jerusalem.
How: Before everyone who was looking she thanked God and spoke of Jesus for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Matthew 6:1-18
God’s people
What: Do not do your acts of righteousness, such as giving, praying and/or fasting to be seen by men (recognized, honored and praised by men) as the hypocrites do.
When: Giving, praying or fasting or other things God calls us to do in obedience to Him as Christians
Where: Both in the synagogue (church) and on the streets (outside of church).
Why: If your motivation to do your acts of righteousness is to be seen by men then you have already received your reward and will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
How: Do your acts of righteousness for God’s glory alone, making an effort to keep it an act of obedience between you and Him, even giving, praying and fasting in secret. Don’t make a big deal out of or make fanfare out of your acts of righteousness.

Significant Notes:
Verse one of chapter 6 sets the stage, the lens, the perspective however you want to say it for verses 1-18. It is important to note that Jesus did not say, do not do your acts of righteousness in public period, but he did say, do not do them in public or before men to be seen by them. Check your heart and search whether or not you are doing any act of righteousness with even the slightest hint of desire to be found out by, seen by, looked up to or admired by other people. That is a sin because God alone deserves glory and honor. In Isaiah it says that our righteousness deeds are like filthy rags compared to God’s holiness. In Romans it cautions us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. The reality is that we are all hopelessly lost and condemned without Christ’s blood protecting us – and God does no save us based on ANY merit of our own but because He loves us and is merciful. No amount of righteous acts earns us “more or less points” – we are all on the same level before a holy, impartial God.

Also, note that these acts are considered righteous not because we are righteous, God alone is righteous. Giving, praying and fasting are all forms of worship and obedient acts based on faith. We give to honor God with our first fruits, worshiping him with our giving and trusting Him to provide for us. The whole point of prayer and fasting isn’t about us and what we can “get out of God” but it is to get in God’s presence and draw closer to Him, it is filled with worship as we can see through all the prayers throughout God’s Word. We pray and fast because we have faith that God hears us and that He is faithful to His promises that if we seek Him we will find Him.

In all “acts of righteousness” God calls us to the reason He calls us to do them is to worship Him and because when we obey Him with a pure heart we grow closer to Him. He is the true treasure. In the sermon of the mount Jesus says to let your light shine so that people may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. The whole point is to bring glory to God – are your good deeds leading people to personally praise our Father in heaven or are they just shining the spotlight on you?

Matthew 14:18-21, Mark 6:41-44, Luke 9:14-17
What: Prayed publicly, thanking God for His provision and asking God to bless the five loaves and 2 fish to feed 5000+ people.
When: Late in the day.
Where: Near Behsaida, in a desolate, isolated place.
Why: He had compassion on the people and to bring God glory.
How: After having the people recline on the grass he took the food into his hands and looked up to heaven, gave thanks, blessed the food and broke the food into pieces for the disciples to pass out to the people. There were 12 hand baskets of food leftover.

Matthew 19:13-15
What: Prayed for the little children.
When: After rebuking the disciples and telling them not to forbid, restrain or hinder the little ones from coming to Christ.
Where: Part of Judea beyond the Jordan.
Why: He rebuked those that would hinder the children from coming to Him because He said that “of such is the kingdom of heaven composed”.
How: Laid his hand on them and prayed for them.

Matthew 26:26-27, Mark 14:22-23
Praising God, gave thanks and asked God to bless the food to their use.
Passover Dinner
Upper room
Visually, to demonstrate his body being broken and his blood poured out to ratify the new covenant on behalf of many, for the forgiveness of sins.
Took the bread, prayed, broke it and gave it to the disciples to eat. Took the cup, prayed, gave it to them to all drink.

Luke 23:32-43
What: Prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
When: When the people and soldiers crucified him on Golgotha
Where: On Hebrew: Golgotha, Latin: Calvary – placed called “The Skull”
Why: Jesus forgave his debtors and prayed for those who persecuted Him as He commands us to do
How: While hanging on the cross between two criminals.

Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-37, Luke 23: 44-29
What: Prayed “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”. Also prayed, “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit”
When: Right before  He expired
Where: On the cross, at about the 9th hour (3 pm).
Why: Christ gave up His spirit willingly, it was not forced out of Him. He willingly obeyed God and took on our sins, although He himself was blameless and holy. Sin separates us from God, Christ had not sinned, our sin which He willingly bore separated Him from God and for the first time He felt what it was like to be apart from God – to be forsaken.
How: Cried out with a loud voice

Significant Notes: At once, as soon as Jesus gave up His spirit to God, the curtain to the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom and earth shook, the rocks split, tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints were raised from the dead and they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, appearing to many in Jerusalem (Matt. 27:51-54, Mark 15:38-39, Luke 23:45-47). The centurion and those who were with him at the foot of the cross observed the earthquake and all that was happening and they were terribly frightened, filled with awe and said that truly, Jesus was Gods Son.

It is significant that the veil was torn from top to bottom by God’s divine power because the veil physically separated the priests from where God’s presence symbolically abode in the temple. Yet, under the new covenant God’s people have become the temple and He sent His Holy Spirit to abide in each of us. Covered by the sacrifice of Christ’s blood we are made clean and able to enter into God’s Holy presence. The tearing of the veil is therefore very significant!

From Matthew Henry’s commentary: The manner how he breathed his last; between the third and the sixth hour, that is, between nine and twelve o’clock, as we reckon, he was nailed to the cross, and soon after the ninth hour, that is, between three and four o’clock in the afternoon, he died. That was the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, and the time when the paschal lamb was killed; and Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us and offered himself in the evening of the world a sacrifice to God of a sweet–smelling savour.

John 11:41-42
What: Thanked God for always hearing and listing to Him and that he was praying for the benefit of those who were watching that they may recognize that Christ was from the Lord.
When: After Lazurus had been dead for 4 days.
Where: In front of Lazurus’ tomb.
Why: To glorify God.
How: Lifted up His eyes and prayed out loud to God.

Acts 7:54-60
Stephen, a man full of faith, full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit, full of grace and power worked many great wonders and sings among the people. He was selected, along with 6 other men, to look after/superintend the serving of tables and distribution of food to widows (ch. 6).
What: “Lord Jesus, receive and welcome my spirit!” and “Lord, fix not this sin upon them”
When: While being stoned to death by the Sanhedrin, Scribes, elders and the people
Where: Outside of the city
Why: He surrendered himself to the Lord in death as opposed to changing his tune and he forgave those who killed him unjustly.
How: Falling on his knees, cried out loudly

* I had initially included Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:33-37, Luke 22:39-47 and John 17:1-26 but after careful consideration would consider these to be corporate prayer so I removed these observations.