Creeds, Confessions & Catechisms #1 – Prayer

This is a series looking at various Christian doctrines, biblical words and practices, which simply uses the historical creeds, confessions and catechisms to teach us. Use this time to reflect and meditate on the various truths and doctrines, and make use of the Scripture references and resources as you go.


The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks in Q.98 –

What is prayer?

A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God [1], for things agreeable to his will [2], in the name of Christ [3], with confession of our sins [4], and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies. [5]

[1]. Ps. 10:1762:8Matt. 7:7-8

[2]. 1 John 5:14

[3]. John 16:23-24

[4]. Ps. 32:5-6Dan. 9:4-191 John 1:9

[5]. Ps. 103:1-5136Phil. 4:6

We bring our desires to God – but desires that are agreeable, or conform to God’s will – confessing our sin and offering our thanksgiving in the name of Jesus who has given us access to the Father. It is a great privilege many of us struggle with. Why not read the Scripture references above and use them to pray to God now?

To compliment the Westminster Shorter Catechism – John Bunyan also has a great definition of prayer:

First, what [true] prayer is. Prayer is a sincere, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God’ – John Bunyan ‘What Is Prayer?’ P. 23

I love the Trinitarian shape of Bunyan’s definition – we pray to God [the Father] through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit! And what are we doing? We are (with sincerity) pouring out the affections of our heart to God. Have you done that yet today? We also pray according to what God has promised and in line with the Word – but also for the good of the church. The church benefits when we pray.

And we do it to mould our hearts in submission to the will of God. Prayer shapes our hearts to God’s will so the affections of our hearts, become entwined with God’s heart.

Why not spend some time praying now?

As an added resource here’s a short 6 minute podcast explaining what ‘Amen’ means by Barry Cooper (you can either listen to it or read it). Simply Put is a ministry of Ligonier – a organisation founded by R.C. Sproul.

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