Many people in the Bayside Church community are engaging with the New Year Restart, an opportunity to develop or strengthen a spiritual discipline that becomes a part of your life. One such practice is prayer, so it would be helpful to explore what Scripture reveals about this sacred exercise that promotes spiritual growth.

In his epistles, Paul puts tremendous value on prayer. He must have thought it worked! Of the 667 prayers in Bible, 454 traceable answers are found! Have you ever had a prayer answered? If so, tell us about it in the comments section to encourage the faith of others. Prayer works, so prayer has worth!

In his letter to the Ephesian Christians, the apostle urges them to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” So, let’s explore these kinds of prayers.


In Ephesians 6:18, Paul employs the most commonly used Greek word for prayer, proseuche. It’s made up of two words. Pros means face-to-face. For example, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with (pros) God…” (John 1:1). The idea conveyed by this word is one of intimacy. The Holy Spirit tells us that the Father and the Son have always had an intimate, face-to-face relationship.

Euche refers to a wish, desire, or vow. It was initially used to depict a person who made a vow to God because of some need or want. They would promise to give something to God of great value in exchange for a favourable answer to prayer.

Proseuche shows us two important things about prayer. It tells us that prayer is the vehicle to bring us into a close and intimate relationship with God. Secondly, the idea of sacrifice is also involved when we surrender to God’s will, purpose and sovereignty. It’s a cosy relationship with God in which we enjoy His presence and align our will with His.


Requests (Gk. deesis) is translated as petitions (NASB) and supplication (KJV). It refers to a need or plea and denotes a cry for God’s help that exposes our inability to meet our own needs.

James employs deesis in his letter when speaking about Elijah, “(The) prayer of a righteous (man) is powerful and effective.” Powerful (Gk. energeo [energy] = the power to get things done). I’m so glad that James uses Elijah as an example. He was a mighty man of God, but he was also an ordinary human being who did great exploits and experienced dismal failures. Consider when Jezebel threatened him. Elijah ran for his life and prayed, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life.” (1 Kings 19:3-5). Ever felt like that? I certainly have!

Elijah recognised his inability to change the situation apart from God’s intervention. He prayed earnestly (deesis) out of his deep sense of need, asking God to intervene. His prayers were powerful and effective – just like yours are! When we cry out to God with our requests, acknowledging our inability to meet our needs, God will hear and answer!


Jesus reassures his followers that they are welcome to ask (Lit. demand) whatever they wish as long as they remain as one with him (abide, continue, or dwell). Prayer is an enduring relationship rather than a transaction where we only log in when we want something.

The picture in the original language is of a family home in which people live together in safety, comfort, and warmth. If we’re at home with Jesus, and his love and word are at home in us, our prayers will be effective.

New Testament Professor William Klein  stated this: “When a person is asking the Father in prayer, while under the influence of the Spirit of Christ, and is praying according to the Word of God, the Lord guarantees that what the person asks will happen.”

If Jesus’ love and words take up proper residence within us, we will only ask for something in sync with His will and purposes. His word and love transform us, so our prayers always follow his will. This is a recurring theme in the epistles:

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3)

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14)


The final kind of prayer is intercession (Gk. entynchanō = “to fall in”). The “falling in” occurs when one party meets with another, primarily to mediate on the other’s behalf. But the meaning is more profound than this. It infers intervention or interference, just like the Canaanite woman did when she pleaded with Jesus to heal her daughter (Matthew 15:22-28). She wouldn’t allow Jesus to dismiss her quickly, and because of her wisdom, persistence, and faith, Jesus intervened and healed her daughter.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit are interceding for us, especially in times of difficulty, suffering, and weakness. Encourage yourself with the truth that when you don’t know how to pray, the Spirit throws himself into your case, taking part in it and interfering (in a good way). As Jesus intercedes for you, he is perpetually meeting you at every point and intervening in all your affairs for your benefit. It infers He goes the second mile every time. Be encouraged!

I wonder if you’ve ever been told NOT to question God?

I have. It’s disrespectful, irreverent, and overly-familiar, apparently. Questioning God shows a lack of faith and fear of the Lord. I mean, God is GOD, and who are we, as mere mortals, to interrogate him?

Verses such as Romans 9:20 are quoted to support this argument: “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'”

In my early years as a Christian, I wouldn’t question God. Even questioning pastors was frowned upon. I mean, “touch not the Lord’s anointed,” right?

My Quest to Question

Because asking questions of God and faith has been frowned upon, those who have dared to have not been treated well. I have experienced this first-hand over the past two decades as I have started investigating aspects of my faith.

To be clear, I do not question the existence of God. Neither do I find difficulty believing in who Jesus is or what he achieved through his life, death, and resurrection. I believe Jesus is alive and reconciling people to God.

In the early 2000s, I began struggling with God ordering his chosen people to commit acts of genocide. That was followed by investigating if the Bible teaches that God deliberately tortures people forever in hell. I read widely on these subjects and published some blogs and podcasts detailing the various views Christians have held on these matters over the centuries. What became clear was that there has existed more than one perspective on each topic for hundreds of years.

How We Treat Questioners

The challenge is that most Christians are only taught one interpretation of the various themes in Scripture and are ignorant that alternative understandings exist. So, when they hear that someone believes that hell is NOT forever (for example), they brand that person a heretic or not a genuine Christian or liberal or woke.

In a recent post, a Facebook friend stated it this way: “We have also turned on our own, bullying those who wrestle sincerely with these hard questions. Are the questions themselves too dangerous? Does asking them warrant accusations of heresy? Why are we so afraid? What if Christ is up to the challenge?” Great questions.

I have been called all sorts of names by Jesus-loving people who don’t seem to be bothered by cursing another believer with unkind words (James 3:9-10). I’m a heretic, a cockroach who should hurry back to my dark places, and I’ll be sorry on the day of judgement. I think not.

The Bible and Questions

Hebraically speaking, much of the Tanakh was written to address people’s genuine questions. Consider the ageless stories in Genesis that were no doubt told and retold around campfires in the ancient worlds to answer questions like:

Why do we have to work for a living?

Why is giving birth painful?

Why do people die?

How did we get a free will or become self-aware?

Asking questions and inquiring about your faith is a healthy practice that should be encouraged rather than criticised. If you don’t believe me check out the Psalms, in which there are over fifty questions like:

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?

Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1).

Why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22);

How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever? (Psalm 79).

How long will your wrath burn like fire? (Psalm 89)

The book of Job is full of questions. Jesus didn’t rebuke people for querying him, and Paul commended the Berean Synagogue Jews for investigating his claims against Scripture rather than gullibly accepting or rejecting his message.

It fascinates me that the Holy Spirit has inspired people to record hundreds of examples of people questioning their faith and their God in Scripture. Yet, we discourage people from doing the same and call them names when they have valid questions.

No Easy Answers

I encourage you to question God and your faith and resist trite or simplistic answers. Learn to wrestle with Scripture and live with the tension of sometimes just not knowing. The Bible and life are full of paradoxes, especially in the depth of suffering.

I believe it is helpful for all of us to move past sayings like, “pray about it, or just believe the Bible,” or my pet hate, “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.” Some people quote that like it’s inspired Scripture, except it isn’t.

My faith has gone deeper during the times when I have grappled with doubts and difficulties. I look back over the past two decades and realise that my faith has deepened, I love God and Jesus more than ever, and I walk much more gently with people.

I’d encourage you to rest where you find yourself and be honest with yourself and God.