From the Old Testament
Genesis 4:3-5First Offering The Quality of Prayer: Humility
This is the account of Cain’s and Abel’s offering to the Lord. Cain brought anoffering of the ground and Able brought an offering of the “firstlings” of his flock. Thisis the first recorded instance of man coming to the Lord with a sacrifice, presumably asatonement for his sin. This sets the tone for all future interaction with God; we are tocome to Him in humility and in full recognition of our position below Him.But we are also to come to Him in the
that pleases Him. We can assumethat Cain knew the ‘right’ thing to do regarding his offering because it certainly was not pleasing to the Lord. It is apparent that Cain’s offering was not made according to God’sdirections as Abel’s was, but came instead out of the pride of Cain’s heart. It might serveus well to understand that our prayer is similarly an offering to God and as such we mustmake sure that we offer it without pride or arrogance, and that we make a sincere attemptto offer it in keeping with the desires of the Lord for it.What does He desire in prayer? This is what I hope this study will discover.
Genesis 4:26Calling Upon the Name of the Lord
“Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.”This is the basis for a relationship with God and any subsequent prayer to Him.We must first call ourselves
the name of the Lord; that is, we must be His children.Then we must call
the name of the Lord; that is, we must recognize that it is fromHim, from the Name above all names, that we receive our daily provision, our deliverance in time of need, and our salvation to eternal life.
Genesis 8:20The Action of Prayer: Altar Building The Content of Prayer: Thanksgiving
Noah builds an altar to the Lord and offers a sacrifice of “every clean animal andof every clean bird.” He is thanking God for saving them out of the flood and the aromaof his sacrifice “is soothing” to the Lord. God promises never to destroy every livingthing again.Prayer includes the thankfulness we feel toward the God who has saved us andthrough whom we have every need supplied. Prayer without thankfulness is prayer without humility.
Genesis 12:7-8Calling Upon the Name of the Lord The Action of Prayer: Altar Building
Abram leaves his home at God’s command and proceeds through Canaan wherehe builds an altar to the “Lord who had appeared to him.” He then goes to the mountain“on the east of Bethel,” and builds another altar and calls “upon the name of the Lord.”The act of building an altar; or in a later passage, the planting of a tree, is tied tothe act of prayer, sacrifice, and worship. Does prayer include the physical act as well asthe mental and spiritual?3