Prayer and what it is and not is


Koot van Wyk (DLitt et Phil; ThD)

Visiting Professor

Kyungpook National University

Sangju Campus

South Korea

Conjoint Lecturer of Avondale College


28 April 2011


With the help of the LXX concordance it is possible to select the same New Testament word in the Old Testament translated with the word pray or prayer.

A number of texts were translated with prayer by the Greek when it is using in the Hebrew the word for call, voice (Psalm 64:1; 130:2). Other Hebrew words are also translated as prayer but the most common one is the Hebrew word for prayer translated as prayer in the Greek of the Septuagint.


Prophet Abraham Praying

Abimelech was an Amorite who lived in the Negev (Genesis 20:2 and the age of 75 Abraham entered Canaan in 2154 BCE (Genesis 12:4). When Abraham came to the Negev, Abimelech took Sarah but God in a dream told Abimelech that he is a dead man but the prophet Abraham can pray for him and he will live (Genesis 20:7 "for he is a prophet and he will pray for you and you will live"). In verse 17 Abraham prayed for him. God spoke directly with Abimelech but God wanted the solution through the one who was affected, Abraham, the one who is tuned in with his whole life to what God says. Afterall, he left Ur and Haran in Mesopotamia and North-east Mesopotamia because he listens and follows God holistically. Due to Abimelech's prayerlessness, one can say like M. A. Canney said about prayerlessness, "Prayerlessness is characteristic either of a savage state or of a degenerate civilization" (M. A. Canney, An Encyclopedia of Religions [Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1970]). When a savage meet God directly he is in total disorder and fear. God does not want to work with people who clings to superstition. Abraham can pray for him so that in context Abraham can bring more data about God before and after the prayer. We assume this, knowing the character of God and his interest in people. God came to someone who did wrong and who was still in halfway in the process of wrong. About Jewish Prayer in Judaism, M. Steinberg said in Basic Judaism, "A man shall not approach God while the spoil of the poor is hidden in his household or seek forgiveness for transgressions with the design of sinning again so soon as the prayers are gone" (M. Steinberg, Basic Judaism [New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1947], 117-118).


Prophet Moses prayed

In Exodus 10:17-18 we read of Thutmosis III, the pharoah that chronologically coincide with the events in Moses' life according to biblical chronology, that he asked Moses to forgive him and do supplication to God to remove the evil against him. Moses did. Again the Almighty God is not slow to act nor hard to listen but knows very well what the one asks and the other must do but He did not act until Moses prayed on Thutmosis III's behalf. It was during the plague episodes in the year 1450 BCE. The Septuagint used the word prayed here although it is a different Hebrew word, There are two words in Middle Egyptian = tr and another word in Late Egyptian that should one add the preposition /r/ to it, would render the same sounds as the semitic for supplication. In the Egyptian tr it is the word for pray. The Hebrew has the same sound and unfortunately, modern Classical Hebrew dictionaries do not make use of the second language of Moses, Egyptian to solve the semantics of difficult words. They all use post 650 CE Arabic to solve a hidden meaning in 1450 BCE superimposing an Arabic-Hebrew context in 650 CE onto a Hebrew-Egyptian context of 1450 BCE.


Manoah the father of Samson prayed

In Judges 13:8 the same word is used in the Hebrew for the prayer of Thutmosis III and Moses and here it is translated with prayer by the Septuagint. The Ammonite oppression of Judges 10:8 lasted between 1111/1110-1093 BCE and the 40 years Philistine subjection of Judges 13:1 (1093-1053 BCE) may have coincided with Manoah's prayer in 1093 BCE and Samson's role about 1073 BCE. Samuel had a sole rule between 1080-1056 BCE. The events of Samson may have happened during this time of Samuel's sole rule of 24 years. Samuel knew very well what was happening with the Philistines and Samson since they were contemporaries. Both sons were dedicated by the Lord but the course of actions that Samuel took was different than that of Samson. A matter of trust, self-concept, self-dedication, choices, faith, reliance, loyalty. All to or in God. Exactly what Samson lacked.


Hannah, mother of prophet Samuel prayed to the Lord

In 1 Samuel 1:10 we read about Hannah "greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly". In 1 Samuel 1:26 Hannah admits that she was standing next to Eli and was praying to the Lord. In 1 Samuel 2:1 starts the prayer of thanksgiving of Hannah.


Prophet Samuel's reformation for Israel and then prayer

In 1 Samuel 7:3 Samuel asked Israel to remove the Baals and Asthroth from among them and that they should focus on the Lord only. In verse 4 they did that. In verse 5 Samuel said that they should gather together and he will pray for them to the Lord.


In distress and confusion prophet Samuel prayed

In 1 Samuel 8 the people insisted they want a king but "the thing was displeased in the sight of Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king to judge us' and Samuel prayed to the Lord". In a moment of distress Samuel prayed to the Lord.


Israel asked Samuel to pray for them since they have sinned

Israel realized their sins and asked Samuel to pray for them in 1 Samuel 12:19 because they have sinned in asking a king instead of letting God be their king of their hearts. Samuel want them to approach God although they have sinned (1 Samuel 12:20). Samuel says that if he cease praying for them, he will sin himself (1 Samuel 12:23). There is a need for Christians to pray for the non-Christians and unconverted of heart.


King David prayed to the Lord

In 2 Samuel 7:18-29 is recorded the prayer of David and promise to build a temple for the Lord (2 Samuel 7:27). "Thy servant has found courage to pray this prayer to Thee".


King Solomon prayed to the Lord

1 Kings 8:22-54 Solomon prayed to the Lord on his knees with his hands sprayed out to the Lord "And it came about that when Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer and supplication to the Lord he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven". King Solomon became sole ruler in 970 BCE and ruled for 40 years until approximately 933 BCE.


King Jeroboam asked the man of God to pray for him

In 1 Kings 13:6 Jeroboam asked a man of God to pray for the healing of his hand. "So the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king's hand was restored to him, and it became as it was before". Jeroboam reigned between 933 -911 BCE.


Prophet Elijah prayed on Mount Carmel for reformation

The prayer of Elijah is recorded in 1 Kings 18:36-37. Part of the message is "turned their heart back again [to the Lord]". This part is a connection to the message of the Future Elijah who will also preach conversion. The message is not just about Judgment but also conversion. One in the other. King Ahab lived between 876/5-854/3 BCE.


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