It is the duty of all people to pray, for God commands all to pray to Him, to ask for His grace. This truth is emphasized in scriptural references like the examples listed in the boxes below.
GOD COMMANDS ALL TO PRAY
Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake His way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God,for He will abundantly pardon.
- Isaiah 55:6-7
Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the iinhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD.
- Joel 1:14
GOD CONDEMNS THOSE WHO DO NOT PRAY
Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD.
- Psalm 14:4
Pour out Thy fury upon the heathen that know Thee not, and upon the families that call not on Thy Name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.
- Jeremiah 10:25
While all are commanded to pray, all are not able to pray acceptably. Our sinful fall destroyed the beautiful relationship and communion with God that we enjoyed in Paradise. An unconverted person does not possess the qualities - the faith, reverence, submission, repentance, sincerity, urgency, or thankfulness - that true prayer requires.
This does not mean, however, that the unconverted are not to pray. Man's sinful condition does not alter God's command; man's inability does not excuse his responsibility. The necessity to pray coupled with the impossibility to pray acceptably should cause us to cry to God, "Lord, teach us to pray!" We must pray for true prayer. God can graciously provide everything we lack, also in prayer; therefore, we are to ask it of Him.
How is the example of Jonah and the Ninevites an illustration of the necessity for all to pray?
Read the following texts:
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is His delight.
- Proverbs 15:8
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
- Proverbs 28:9
Do these verses mean that sinners should not pray? To what do these verses refer?
But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
- Hebrews 11:6
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.