By Bob Thiel
This is the fourth part of a multi-part series on prayer.
It has been said that, “The Church of God goes forward on its knees.” This has basically been used as an admonition to tell Christians that they need to pray. But how?
In the previous articles, prayer was defined, and thirteen tips were discussed. In this article, four additional tips, starting with what we will call tip fourteen are covered.
Tip 18: Obey the New Testament About Head Coverings
Does the covering or uncovering of your head make any difference to God?
According to the Apostle Paul it does:
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.
13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. (1 Corinthians 11:1-16)
While the above is mainly discussing hair, it also seems to be prohibiting Christian males from wearing hats or other head coverings when praying in public (though I do not believe that if a man is wearing a hat because it is cold he cannot pray) as well as allowing for women to wear veils or other head coverings when they pray. Males should have relatively short hair and not wear head coverings while praying. Women should have relatively long hair, but can (but are not required to) wear head coverings like hats or veils when praying.
Although it is true that the Levitical priesthood had head coverings, the Bible shows that there was a change of the priesthood in the New Testament (Hebrews 7:12).
It should be understood that neither Jesus nor the Apostle Paul wore head coverings when praying—and Christian males should also imitate them this way. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, the type of head coverings that Greco-Roman religious leaders now wear did not even become formally part of their churches until after the 4th century arrival of Roman Emperor Constantine, a devotee to the sun-god Mithras.
Many religious head coverings that are worn in the 21st century are adaptations from pagan faiths.
Priest of Mithras Pope Leo I Pope Gregory 13
(3rd Century) (Reigned 440-461) (Reigned 1572-1585)
If you see any male praying with head coverings like the pagans wore, you can be assured that he does not believe he must take passages of the Bible such as those in 1 Corinthians 11 literally. But you and he should.
Additionally, the type of baldness that many Buddhist and Catholic monks have imposed on themselves, is directly contrary to statutes of the Bible (Leviticus 21:1,5; Ezekiel 44:15,20), so be careful not to imitate them.
Tip 19: Ask Often, Do Not Use Vain Repetitions, But Be Fervent
Jesus encouraged asking God for something frequently:
1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'”
6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
You need to be persistent. Many do not really have the faith they should. More information about faith can be found in our free booklet Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen.
Although we should continue to pray regularly, Jesus also warned against the use of ‘vain repetition’ type prayers:
7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:7-8)
Thus, while the outline of prayer Jesus gave in Matthew 6:9-13 gives us priorities and certain specifics to pray about, true Christians do not just repeat those words in rote multiple times in a row as do some faiths who profess Christ.
In some cultures, they actually spin a wheel and believe that each rotation sends up a prayer to the gods. In at least one place in Asia, I recall seeing ‘prayers’ that were on wheel spun by the wind. This is not what God wants.
Still others, in both Eastern and Western cultures, use a counting system involving beads to keep track of their repetitions that they strive for. But that, too, is not what God wants.
Make your petition to God clear and do not use vain repetition. Notice what God wants:
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:16-18)
Those who use bead-counting systems for prayer are not being truly fervent nor effectual. God wants His people to “cry out to Me with their heart” (Hosea 7:14).
Notice what Jesus did:
44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)
Jesus was quite fervent at times as the above shows.
Tip 20: If You Are Suffering or Sick, Pray About It
God’s word instructs us to pray if we are suffering or are ill:
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:13-15)
There is a time to heal (Ecclesiastes 3:3), so pray for it. Those who are ill can also call for the elders to anoint them.
We are healed by the stripes of Jesus:
24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
Moses prayed that God would heal his sister Miriam (Numbers 12:13). David prayed and fasted when others were sick:
13 But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart. (Psalms 35:13)
Isaiah told Hezekiah that God would heal him:
5 ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. (2 Kings 20:5)
2 O Lord my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. (Psalms 30:2)
14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; (Jeremiah 17:14)
Prayer is connected with healing in the Bible. When you are suffering, remember to pray.
Tip 21: Pray for Church Leaders
We are to pray for our spiritual leaders.
Notice some teachings from the Apostle Paul:
25 Brethren, pray for us (1 Thessalonians 5:25).
1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).
Christians were told by Christian leaders:
18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. (Hebrews 13:18)
Jesus taught we are to pray for more leaders:
2 The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2).
We also are to pray:
14 The will of the Lord be done (Acts 21:14).
More information on prayer can be found in our booklet Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach?