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Westminster Larger Catechism

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Question 178: What is prayer?

Answer:  Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God1, in the name of Christ2, by the help of his Spirit3; with confession of our sins4, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies5.

1.  Ps. 62:8
2.  John 16:23
3.  Rom. 8:26
4.  Ps. 32:5-6; Dan. 9:4
5.  Phil. 4:6

Question 179: Are we to pray unto God only?

Answer:  God only being able to search the hearts1, hear the requests2, pardon the sins3, and fulfill the desires of all4; and only to be believed in5, and worshiped with religious worship6; prayer, which is a special part thereof7, is to be made by all to him alone8, and to none other9.

1.  1Kings 8:39; Acts 1:24; Rom. 8:27
2.  Ps. 65:2
3.  Micah 7:18
4.  Ps. 145:18-19
5.  Rom. 10:14
6.  Matt. 4:10
7.  1Cor. 1:2
8.  Ps. 1:15
9.  Rom. 10:14

Question 180: What is it to pray in the name of Christ?

Answer:  To pray in the name of Christ is, in obedience to his command, and in confidence on his promises, to ask mercy for his sake1; not by bare mentioning of his name2, but by drawing our encouragement to pray, and our boldness, strength, and hope of acceptance in prayer, from Christ and his mediation3.

1.  John 14:13-14, 16:24; Dan. 9:17
2.  Matt. 7:21
3.  Heb. 4:14-16; 1John 5:13-15

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Question 181: Why are we to pray in the name of Christ?

Answer:  The sinfulness of man, and his distance from God by reason thereof, being so great, as that we can have no access into his presence without a mediator1; and there being none in heaven or earth appointed to, or fit for, that glorious work but Christ alone2, we are to pray in no other name but his only3.

1.  John 14:6; Isa. 59:2; Eph. 3:12
2.  John 6:27; Heb. 7:25-27; 1Tim. 2:5
3.  Col. 3:17; Heb. 13:15

Question 182: How does the Spirit help us to pray?

Answer:  We not knowing what to pray for as we ought, the Spirit helps our infirmities, by enabling us to understand both for whom, and what, and how prayer is to be made; and by working and quickening in our hearts (although not in all persons, nor at all times, in the same measure) those apprehensions, affections, and graces which are requisite for the right performance of that duty.

Rom. 8:26-27; Ps. 10:17; Zech. 12:10

Question 183: For whom are we to pray?

Answer:  We are to pray for the whole church of Christ upon earth1; for magistrates2, and ministers3; for ourselves4, our brethren5, yea, our enemies5; and for all sorts of men living7, or that shall live hereafter8; but not for the dead9, nor for those that are known to have sinned the sin unto death10.

1.  Eph. 6:18; Ps. 28:9
2.  1Tim. 2:1-2
3.  Col. 4:3
4.  Gen. 32:11
5.  James 5:16
6.  Matt. 5:44
7.  1Tim. 2:1-2
8.  John 17:20; 2Sam. 7:29
9.  2Sam. 12:21-23
10.  1John 5:16

Question 184: For what things are we to pray?

Answer:  We are to pray for all things tending to the glory of God1, the welfare of the church2, our own3 or others good4; but not for anything that is unlawful5.

1.  Matt. 6:9
2.  Ps. 51:18, 122:6
3.  Matt. 7:11
4.  Ps. 125:4
5.  1John 5:14

Question 185: How are we to pray?

Answer:  We are to pray with an awful apprehension of the majesty of God1, and deep sense of our own unworthiness2, necessities3, and sins4; with penitent5, thankful6, and enlarged hearts7; with understanding8, faith9, sincerity10, fervency11, love12, and perseverance13, waiting upon him14, with humble submission to his will15.

1.  Eccl. 5:1
2.  Gen. 18:27; 32:10
3.  Luke 15:17-19
4.  Luke 18:13-14
5.  Ps. 51:17
6.  Phil. 4:6
7.  1Sam. 1:15, 2:1
8.  1Cor. 14:15
9.  Mark 11:24; James 1:6
10.  Ps. 17:1; 145:18
11.  James 5:16
12.  1Tim. 2:8
13.  Eph. 6:18
14.  Micah 7:7
15.  Matt. 26:39

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Question 186: What rule has God given for our direction in the duty of prayer?

Answer:  The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in the duty of prayer1; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which our Savior Christ taught his disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer2.

1.  1John 5:14
2.  Matt. 6:2-13; Luke 11:2-4

Question 187: How is the Lord’s Prayer to be used?

Answer:  The Lord’s Prayer is not only for direction, as a pattern, according to which we are to make other prayers; but may also be used as a prayer, so that it be done with understanding, faith, reverence, and other graces necessary to the right performance of the duty of prayer.
Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:2

Question 188: Of how many parts does the Lord’s Prayer consist?

Answer:  The Lord’s Prayer consists of three parts; a preface, petitions, and a conclusion.

Question 189: What does the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

Answer:  The preface of the Lord’s Prayer (contained in these words, Our Father which art in heaven)1, teaches us, when we pray, to draw near to God with confidence of his fatherly goodness, and our interest therein2; with reverence, and all other childlike dispositions3, heavenly affections4, and due apprehensions of his sovereign power, majesty, and gracious condescension5: as also, to pray with and for others6.

1.  Matt. 6:9
2.  Luke 11:13; Rom. 8:15
3.  Isa. 64:9
4.  Ps. 123:1; Lam. 3:41
5.  Isa. 63:15-16; Neh. 1:4-6
6.  Acts 12:5

Question 190: What do we pray for in the first petition?

Answer:  In the first petition (which is, Hallowed be thy name)1, acknowledging the utter inability and indisposition that is in ourselves and all men to honor God aright2, we pray, that God would by his grace enable and incline us and others to know, to acknowledge, and highly to esteem him3, his titles4, attributes5, ordinances, Word6, works, and whatsoever he is pleased to make himself known by7; and to glorify him in thought, word8, and deed9: that he would prevent and remove atheism10, ignorance11, idolatry12, profaneness13, and whatsoever is dishonorable to him14; and, by his overruling providence, direct and dispose of all things to his own glory15.

1.  Matt. 6:9
2.  2Cor. 3:5; Ps. 51:15
3.  Ps. 67:2-3
4.  Ps. 83:18
5.  Ps. 86:10-13, 15
6.  2Thess. 3:1; Ps. 138:1-3; 147:19-20; 2Cor. 2:14-15
7.  Ps. ch. 8; ch. 145
8.  Ps. 19:14; 103:1
9.  Phil. 1:9, 11
10.  Ps. 67:1-4
11.  Eph. 1:17-18
12.  Ps. 97:7
13.  Ps. 74:18, 22-23
14.  2Kings 19:15-16
15.  2Chr. 20:6, 10-12; Ps. ch. 83; 140:4, 8

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Question 191: What do we pray for in the second petition?

Answer:  In the second petition (which is, Thy kingdom come)1, acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan2, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed3, the gospel propagated throughout the world4, the Jews called5, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in6; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances7, purged from corruption8, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate9: that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted10: that Christ would rule in our hearts here11, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever12: and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends13.

1.  Matt. 6:10
2.  Eph. 2:2-3
3.  Ps. 67:1, 18; Rev. 12:10-11
4.  2Thess. 3:1
5.  Rom. 10:1
6.  John 17:9, 20; Rom. 11:25-26; Ps. ch. 67
7.  Matt. 9:38; 2Thess. 3:1
8.  Mal. 1:11; Zeph. 3:9
9.  1Tim. 2:1-2
10.  Acts 4:29-30; Eph. 6:18-20; Rom. 15:29-30, 32; 2Thess. 1:11; 2:16-17
11.  Eph. 3:14-20
12.  Rev. 22:20
13.  Isa. 64:1-2; Rev. 4:8-11

Question 192: What do we pray for in the third petition?

Answer:  In the third petition (which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven)1, acknowledging, that by nature we and all men are not only utterly unable and unwilling to know and do the will of God2, but prone to rebel against his Word3, to repine and murmur against his providence4, and wholly inclined to do the will of the flesh, and of the devil5: we pray, that God would by his Spirit take away from ourselves and others all blindness6, weakness7, indisposedness8, and perverseness of heart9; and by his grace make us able and willing to know, do, and submit to his will in all things10, with the like humility11, cheerfulness12, faithfulness13, diligence14, zeal15, sincerity16, and constancy17, as the angels do in heaven18.

1.  Matt. 6:10
2.  Rom. 7:18; Job 21:14; 1Cor. 2:14
3.  Rom. 8:7
4.  Exod. 17:7; Num. 14:2
5.  Eph. 2:2
6.  Eph. 1:17-18
7.  Eph. 3:16
8.  Matt. 26:40-41
9.  Jer. 31:18-19
10.  Ps. 119:1, 8, 35-36; Acts 21:14
11.  Micah 6:8
12.  Ps. 100:2; Job 1:21; 2Sam. 15:25-26
13.  Isa. 38:3
14.  Ps. 119:4-5
15.  Rom. 12:11
16.  Ps. 119:80
17.  Ps. 119:112
18.  Isa. 6:2-3; Ps. 103:20-21; Matt. 18:10

Question 193: What do we pray for in the fourth petition?

Answer:  In the fourth petition (which is, Give us this day our daily bread)1, acknowledging, that in Adam, and by our own sin, we have forfeited our right to all the outward blessings of this life, and deserve to be wholly deprived of them by God, and to have them cursed to us in the use of them2; and that neither they of themselves are able to sustain us3, nor we to merit4, or by our own industry to procure them5; but prone to desire6, get7, and use them unlawfully8: we pray for ourselves and others, that both they and we, waiting upon the providence of God from day to day in the use of lawful means, may, of his free gift, and as to his fatherly wisdom shall seem best, enjoy a competent portion of them9; and have the same continued and blessed unto us in our holy and comfortable use of them10, and contentment in them11; and be kept from all things that are contrary to our temporal support and comfort12.

1.  Matt. 6:11
2.  Gen. 2:17, 3:17; Rom. 8:20-22; Jer. 5:25; Deut. 28:15-68
3.  Deut. 8:3
4.  Gen. 32:10
5.  Deut. 8:17-18
6.  Jer. 6:13; Mark 7:21-22
7.  Hosea 12:7
8.  James 4:3
9.  Gen. 28:20; 43:12-14; Eph. 4:28; 2Thess. 3:11-12; Phil. 4:6
10.  1Tim. 4:3-5
11.  1Tim. 6:6-8
12.  Prov. 30:8-9

Question 194: What do we pray for in the fifth petition?

Answer:  In the fifth petition (which is, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors)1, acknowledging, that we and all others are guilty both of original and actual sin, and thereby become debtors to the justice of God; and that neither we, nor any other creature, can make the least satisfaction for that debt2: we pray for ourselves and others, that God of his free grace would, through the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, apprehended and applied by faith, acquit us both from the guilt and punishment of sin3, accept us in his Beloved4; continue his favor and grace to us5, pardon our daily failings6, and fill us with peace and joy, in giving us daily more and more assurance of forgiveness7; which we are the rather emboldened to ask, and encouraged to expect, when we have this testimony in ourselves, that we from the heart forgive others their offenses8.

1.  Matt. 6:12
2.  Rom. 3:9-22; Matt. 18:24-25; Ps. 130:3-4
3.  Rom. 3:24-26; Heb. 9:22
4.  Eph. 1:6-7
5.  2Peter 1:2
6.  Hosea 14:2; Jer. 14:7
7.  Rom. 15:13; Ps. 51:7-10, 12
8.  Luke 11:4; Matt. 6:14-15; 18:35

Question 195: What do we pray for in the sixth petition?

Answer:  In the sixth petition (which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil)1, acknowledging, that the most wise, righteous, and gracious God, for divers holy and just ends, may so order things, that we may be assaulted, foiled, and for a time led captive by temptations2; that Satan3, the world4, and the flesh, are ready powerfully to draw us aside, and ensnare us5; and that we, even after the pardon of our sins, by reason of our corruption6, weakness, and want of watchfulness7, are not only subject to be tempted, and forward to expose ourselves unto temptations8, but also of ourselves unable and unwilling to resist them, to recover out of them, and to improve them9; and worthy to be left under the power of them10: we pray, that God would so overrule the world and all in it11, subdue the flesh12, and restrain Satan13, order all things14, bestow and bless all means of grace15, and quicken us to watchfulness in the use of them, that we and all his people may by his providence be kept from being tempted to sin16; or, if tempted, that by his Spirit we may be powerfully supported and enabled to stand in the hour of temptation17: or when fallen, raised again and recovered out of it18, and have a sanctified use and improvement thereof19: that our sanctification and salvation may be perfected20, Satan trodden under our feet21, and we fully freed from sin, temptation, and all evil, forever22.

1.  Matt. 6:13; 2Chr. 32:31
2.  1Chr. 32:31
3.  1Chr. 21:1
4.  Luke 21:34; Mark 4:19
5.  James 1:14
6.  Gal. 5:17
7.  Matt. 26:41
8.  Matt. 26:69-72; Gal. 2:11-14; 2Chr. 18:3; 19:2
9.  Rom. 7:23-24; 1Chr. 21:1-4; 2Chr. 16:7-10
10.  Ps. 81:11-12
11.  John 17:15
12.  Ps. 51:10; 119:133
13.  2Cor. 12:7-8
14.  1Cor. 10:12-13
15.  Heb. 13:20-21
16.  Matt. 26:41; Ps. 19:13
17.  Eph. 3:14-17; 1Thess. 3:13; Jude 1:24
18.  Ps. 51:12
19.  1Peter 5:8-10
20.  2Cor. 13:7, 9
21.  Rom. 16:20; Zech. 3:2; Luke 22:31-32
22.  John 17:15; 1Thess. 5:23

Question 196: What does the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

Answer:  The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer (which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.)1, teaches us to enforce our petitions with arguments2, which are to be taken, not from any worthiness in ourselves, or in any other creature, but from God3; and with our prayers to join praises4, ascribing to God alone eternal sovereignty, omnipotency, and glorious excellency5; in regard whereof, as he is able and willing to help us6, so we by faith are emboldened to plead with him that he would7, and quietly to rely upon him, that he will fulfill our requests9. And, to testify this our desire and assurance, we say, Amen9.

1.  Matt. 6:13
2.  Rom. 15:30
3.  Dan. 9:4, 7-9, 16-19
4.  Phil. 4:6
5.  1Chr. 29:10-13
6.  Eph. 3:20-21; Luke 11:13
7.  2Chr. 20:6, 11
8.  2Chr. 14:11
9.  1Cor. 14:16; Rev. 22:20-21

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