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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

A Scripture Catechism
in the
Method of the Assembly's

by Matthew Henry

Q. 98. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.

1. Is it every one's duty to pray? Yes: Men ought always to pray, Luke 18:1. Call a man be a good man who lives without prayer? No: Every one that is godly shall pray, Ps. 32:6. Are we to pray daily? Yes: Morning, and evening, and at noon, will I pray, Ps. 55:17. Are we to pray continually? Yes: Pray without ceasing, 1 Thess. 5:17. Are we to pray in secret? Yes Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and shut thy door, Matt. 6:6. Are we to pray when we are in affliction? Yes: Is any among you afflicted, let him pray, James 5:13.

2. Are we to pray to God only? Yes: for he only knows the hearts of all the children of men, 1 Kings 8:39. May we pray to departed saints to pray for us? No: for Abraham is ignorant of us, Isa. 63:16. Is prayer the soul's ascent to God? Yes: Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul, Ps. 25:1. Is it the soul's converse with God? Yes: Pour out your hearts before him, Ps. 62:8. Are we in prayer to ascribe glory to God? Yes: Give unto the Lord glory and strength, Ps. 96:7. And to ask mercy of God? Yes: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find, Matt. 7:7.

3. Are we to pray to God for things agreeable to his will? Yes: If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us, 1 John 5:14. Must we pray for pardoning mercy, and sanctifying grace? Yes: Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need, Heb. 4:16. Are God's promises to be the guide of our desires in prayer? Yes: Remember thy word unto thy servant, Ps. 114:49. And the ground of our faith? Yes: For I hope in thy word, ver. 81.

4. Must we pray in the name of Christ? Yes: Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, John 19:13. Relying on his righteousness alone? Yes: For we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Heb. 10:19. Must we pray in faith? Yes: Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, Jam. 1:6. Depending on the assistance of the Holy Spirit? Yes: for the Spirit helpeth our infirmities, Rom. 8:26.

5. Must we in prayer make confession of sin? Yes: I prayed to the Lord my God, and made my confession, Dan. 9:4. And must we give thanks for mercies received? Yes: Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, Ps. 100:4.

6. Must we be constant in prayer? Yes: I gave myself unto prayer, Ps. 109:4. And humble in prayer? Yes: for we are but dust and ashes, Gen. 18:27. And earnest in prayer? Yes: Always labouring fervently in prayer, Col 4:12. Must we in sincerity set God before us in prayer? Yes: Let us draw near with a true heart, Heb. 10:22. Must we pray in charity? Yes: Lifting up pure hands without wrath, 1 Tim. 2:8.

7. Will God hear and accept those who thus pray to him? Yes: He never said to the seed of Jacob, seek ye me in vain, Isa. 45:19. But will the love of sin spoil the success of prayer Yes: If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear me, Ps. 66:18.

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