Tim Tebow and Praying in Public – the Conclusion

Recap
So waaaay back on January 14th, I wrote the first installment of this “short” study – Tim Tebow and Praying in Public. As a recap, at the time the media and some of my friends on Facebook were giving a lot of attention to the “Tebow” sensation since it was before the Super Bowl and the Denver Broncos were competing to land a spot in the big game. One result of this attention was a friend of a friend on Facebook, someone who I don’t even know, posed the question whether or not it was Biblical for Tim Tebow to be praying publicly. Up until that point I really hadn’t thought anything except for how awesome it was that God was getting attention this way and it was exciting to me that people were being inspired to pray, even if it was in the “Tebow” position….It dawned on me, however, that if one person was asking this question there had to be more. It also was evident that although I had my own opinion, that to be able to identify what God has to say about public prayer we’d have to find out by reading the Bible – caption obvious (: – yet it is a wonder how many times this most important step gets skipped!

Study
It may be that the “study the Bible” portion of decision and conclusion making is skipped due to the time it requires! However, if we make a habit of hiding God’s word in our hearts and through study, meditation and memorization a bit at a time on a daily basis then we won’t always have to spend days and hours searching the scripture for a Biblical conclusion. The reason I noticed that the discussion on Facebook was based on verses being taken out of context was because of scripture memory! Between January and February I looked up the word “pray”, “prayer” and “prayed” using the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance online. Of course prayer literally fills God’s Word from beginning to end so I’m sure I missed some verses but for what I did find I classified by type such as public prayer, intercession, supplication, praise etc. I’m most definitely sure that this list of verses on prayer will come in handy for future studies and save a LOT of time!  After gathering the list I started looking each public prayer passage up, reading and noting my observations – nothing tricky here, simply the who, what, when, where, why and how* that is plainly revealed in the text as well as significant contextual notes. I read and gathered these important observations not only from the single verse that listed the word “prayer” alone but also from the text around it, often the entire chapter as well as the surrounding chapters! The reason being is it is sooooo important to take verses in context. A verse stripped down to itself with no context of the place, the audience, etc. can be easily manipulated to mean something totally different than if you read the circumstance and words the verse is set in. Furthermore, the reason why I took the time to look up a LOT of verses on public prayer is to also take the passages in one book of the Bible in context with all of the other verses and chapters in the rest of the ENTIRE Bible. There is never a time when the Bible contradicts itself, instead the verses must be taken in context with each other before a conclusion is made.

Summation
To follow along I highly encourage you to print out the public prayer observations. I copied and pasted them into a word document and set the right margin at a couple of inches so I had room to jot down notes next to each passage. I was looking for commonalities between them as well as what the motivation for the prayer was and they why/what for each prayer.

The public prayer’s were (one or more of the public prayers fall under each of the descriptors below):

  • On behalf of the group present
  • Were supplications made with a humble motive and as an act of trust by a leader
  • Praise and worship at the manifestation of God’s presence, power and/or a miracle
  • Confession on behalf of or as a group
  • Seeking God, making a commitment to the Lord as a group, prayers made by leaders
  • Prayers of thanksgiving
  • Prayers for guidance and deliverance made by a leader on behalf of the people present and non-present
  • Prayers for others (present), laying hands on them while praying for them
  • Prayers made in public as an act of obedience, even when life put in potential danger because of the public prayer and devotion to God
  • Prophetic prayers prompted by the Holy Spirit
  • Prayers of submission to God’s will in the midst of public suffering
  • Prayers of forgiveness in the midst of public suffering

The public prayers were commonly marked by:

  • God’s glory – for HIS glory, God was glorified each and every time
  • Humbleness before God
  • Submission to God
  • Genuine/pure motives
  • Relevant and proper (within God’s will, not out of place, relevant to the people and situation)
  • Faith (trust in God)
  • Not about person praying but about God’s will – even in supplication, again with heart of submission
  • Recognizing God’s sovereignty

We learn a lot about God too – God is glorified, honored revered and worshiped for who He is throughout the prayers made in public. Here is what we learn about God just from “listening” to these prayers.

Conclusion
Praying in public in and of itself is not right or wrong – what makes it right or wrong is whether or not it is God’s will and whether or not it is acted out according to God’s will (God leads our steps not only in the where but also in the when and how). As we see from the observation summation, all of the prayers throughout scripture brought glory to God and were relevant to the situation or people present – these are indicators of God’s will since God alone deserves the glory and He is not confusion. Even when the person’s physical well being was put in danger because of obedience in prayer (i.e. Daniel being thrown into the lions den) God was the one in control and God was glorified.

Matthew 6:1-18 really highlights the underlying issue – our motives. We humans are very deceptive by nature – and no matter how long we’ve been a Christian we are still susceptible to sin’s deceptive lies. Some sins common to man are the sins of self worship, self glorification and pride. Within religious circles a common way this sin is manifested is for us to seek gratification or satisfaction from the adoration of others as opposed to finding satisfaction in God alone. This sin can be thinly veiled or well concealed through religious acts such as giving, prayer, and fasting. It twists true forms of God worship into self worship. Since we are susceptible to this sin it is super important that we search our heart, ask God to search our hearts and open our eyes, and ask others to call us out. To combat the sin of our heart Jesus tells us not to do any act of righteousness to be seen be men – even to pray “behind closed doors” – our default unless otherwise led by the Holy Spirit.

Another note is that none of the public prayers I found in scripture were of private matters – they were all relevant. Even when Jesus cried out on the cross in agony as sin separated Him from the Father this separation was relevant to the sacrifice for our sin and to the audience of all time. Personal prayer time should take place everyday – it is a spiritual discipline and most definitely is between God and us in a private – “secret” place. Right after Jesus tells us to pray to God in our rooms with the door closed He gives us instruction on how to pray with some index sentences known as the Lord’s Prayer – our guideline for personal prayer time. Jesus would often withdraw from the public and from his disciples to pray to the Father for hours on end, even for entire nights. How vibrant is your personal prayer time – the drinking in of God’s spirit and eating of His body – the Word of God?

Throughout the book of John, Jesus – God incarnate, says he did not do or say anything on earth unless God expressly told Him to because He and the Father were one – He was God’s Word in living form. We of course our not – we are clay vessels that once redeemed from sin carry the Holy Spirit – representatives of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ who testify about God’s power. We, who do not know truth apart from the illumination of the Holy Spirit, should be careful then to strive not to act out of own hearts  and understanding and instead to cling to God (Joshua 23:8) and let Him direct us through each action and each day. As Matthew 16:24 puts it, to pick up our cross and follow Him, or as As Galatians 5:16-17 and 24-26 say:

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do…And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Taking all of this together, God may at times lay upon your heart, through the motivation of the Holy Spirit to pray in a public manner or setting. Whether it is out loud in front of or on behalf of a few or a few thousand, for others through the laying of hand or even in a manner which publicizes your worship of God like Daniel. It is important to test your heart and your motives against the scriptures and to only act when commanded by God, with a humble heart that is submissive to God and recognizes His sovereignty. Whether or not it is Tim Tebow, me, or you, God alone is able to look into the hearts of man and He judges each man’s motives:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

*For more on Bible Study technique read Precept Ministries “Lord, teach me how to study the Bible in 28 Days” by Kay Arthur

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!

Observations
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)
Who:
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
Who:
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
Who:
Elijah
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
Who:
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
Who:
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
Who:
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
Who:
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
Who:
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
Who:
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
Who: 
Ezra and the Israelites
What:
Worshiped and blessed the Lord
When: 
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.
Where: 
In Jerusalem, in the broad place before the Water Gate
Why: 
At the opening of God’s Word and when Ezra blessed the Lord
How: 
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
Who:
Israelites
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
Who:
Ezra
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
Who:
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
Who:
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
Who:
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.
Why:
How: Before everyone who was looking she thanked God and spoke of Jesus for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Matthew 6:1-18
Who:
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
Who:
Jesus
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
Who:
Jesus
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
Who:
Jesus
What:
Praising God, gave thanks and asked God to bless the food to their use.
When:
Passover Dinner
Where:
Upper room
Why:
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.
How: 
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
Who:
Jesus
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
Who:
Jesus
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
Who:
Jesus
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
Who:
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.

Tim Tebow and Praying in Public

The Debate
I don’t watch sports, nothing against them I’m just not really into watching, although on a rare occasion you will find me going to a hockey game cheering for whoever the home team is cause hockey games are so much fun to watch live! In spite of my lack of attention to sports, the Tebow sensation has reached my eyes and ears through the news and through Facebook friends’ posts. Most recently I saw a heated discussion between a Facebook friend and one of their friends who I don’t know. They were debating whether or not it was OK for Tebow to be praying in public. What really bothered me about it was that one of them was basing their whole argument off of a scripture reference they were taking out of context. This really made me uncomfortable/raised my heart rate a little bit and made me get that nervous feeling in my stomach that maybe I should point that “out of context” issue to them. Since I love, love – LOVE God’s most holy infallible word, I wanted to say something so bad! I didn’t though – I had a feeling that wouldn’t be the wise thing to do.

Anyway, as I contemplated their debate it didn’t take long to recognize that if one person is asking this question then there are more. It is good to ask questions about the Bible – God wants us to ask questions and to study His word. The latter is the part that gets left out most of the time which unfortunately leads to heated arguments based on human worldviews as opposed to God’s perfect truth. To find out what God says about public prayer let’s dive into His Word.

The Method of Study
Well first, set your own initial opinion/gut feeling to the side (sure I have on too!) and open the Bible along with a concordance, I use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. It is available in book form or online. Then start looking up the word “pray”, “prayer”, “prayed” etc. As you look the verses up make sure to read the context by reading the paragraphs before and after or even the whole chapter. That really helps a lot. As you read each passage start categorizing them by types of prayer such as public prayer, corporate prayer, private prayer etc.

After compiling lists we will then look at what God says about public prayer by reading the verses and studying them in context by:

  1. Studying the text before and after.
  2. Comparing the scripture with the other scriptures we find about prayer.

God’s word, although consisting of 66 books written over thousands of years does not contradict itself so it is important to shine the light of meaning on scripture by using other scriptures referred to as “cross references”.

As you compile your own list you will realize that it takes some time. I’m going to look up a section of verses/passages each day and will keep my lists here:  Verses on Prayer. I’m sure this will come in handy later on for other studies too!

After studying the scriptures we’ll be able to draw a conclusion to the question based on what God has to say about prayer in public throughout His word. Remember to check back for progress on the study and the results!

View the observations of public prayers recorded in scripture

View the conclusion!