We continue our discussion from last week on the spiritual disciplines. Prayer is an essential spiritual discipline. There are so many facets of prayer. Entire books are written on the subject. You could make prayer a lifelong study and never get past the basics. There is a vast sea of knowledge and wisdom about it. The more you learn about it, the more you learn you don’t know.
At the same time, prayer is simple. Prayer is not for accomplished theologians alone. The power of prayer does not lie in our mastery of it. God does not incline his ear anymore to our one millionth prayer than he does our first prayer. The power of prayer is not in our ability to pray it. It is in God’s ability to answer it.
There are so many different ways and things to pray. There is no limit to the possibility of prayer, and there are so many things I could say about it. But here are a few points of emphasis for you today:
Pray in Faith
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6, ESV)
There is a connection between prayer and faith. Why do we not pray? The primary reason we fail to pray is because we doubt the effectiveness of prayer. If we had more faith in God’s ability to answer prayer, there would be nothing that could stop us from praying. For many of us, we see prayer as a last resort rather than our first option. Lord, help us in our unbelief!
Pray without ceasing . . . (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV)
Prayer is about having an awareness of God, even in the middle of your busy life. You might think that you don’t have time to pray but that is all the more reason you need to pray. Martin Luther is famously quoted as saying:
“I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”
It is important to set aside formal times to pray where we stop everything else we are doing. But Paul talked about praying continually. What this means is having an ongoing conversation with God throughout the day. It is while you are driving in the car. It is while you are washing the dishes or doing the laundry. It is while you are making a major decision at work. It’s like having him there with you and sharing with him the thoughts of your heart and mind.
Use the Prayers of the Past
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14, ESV)
There are times where you may not have the words to pray. A great place to turn in these moments is the Scriptures, especially the Psalms. They are a great place to turn anytime! The Book of Psalms is a book of prayer and serves resource to take our prayer life deeper.
There are other books of prayer. I am currently using A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie as a way to guide my prayers. This does not stop me from using my own words and praying from the heart. But there is a time to pray the powerful prayers of the past to help guide us in taking our prayer life deeper. Allow others, like King David, who had a deep and abiding relationship with God, help take us deeper. We learn from their prayers by praying their prayers.
Just Do It
That is the old Nike slogan, but it applies. We can talk about prayer. We can study prayer. We can preach sermons about prayer. We can read books about prayer. But none of that replaces praying. So don’t wait. Do it now. Nothing will take you deeper in prayer than prayer itself.
Questions for Reflection
No questions today. Just pray!