“To grow in grace is to become more understanding in prayer.” P. T. Forsyth
“The bane of so much theology, old and new, is that it has been denuded of prayer and prepared in a vacuum.” P. T. Forsyth
I claim no expertise when it comes to prayer. One of my greatest regrets, as I grow older, is that I haven’t prayed more and better.Here are a few things I have learned about prayer that are helping me.
Prayer is not meditation. Meditation has an important place but prayer is not just meditation. When I try to meditate on God before I have addressed Him, I find my mind drifting. But if I spend time consciously communing with Him before I try to meditate on Him, my thoughts sometimes spout wings and my heart is lifted into spheres of glory I had not imagined before.
Prayer is not recitation. One might use a plan for prayer but if it becomes rote, it is an actual evil. To recite the Lord’s Prayer for instance, without praying over its details, is no more than an exercise in memory. It gives the illusion of prayer without its reality.
Prayer is not imitation. It is easy to get caught up in the way someone else prays and having acquired their tones and expressions, think one’s self to have prayed when in realty it is only imitation.
Prayer is the soul of a man speaking to the God who is in the soul of that man. Heaven is translated from the etherial and non-material to a reality in the human heart. An audience with God is granted and the scepter is extended as I approach Him on the basis of Christ’s blood. I find it hard to speak to the God who lives in me without using words. So, I bring with me words. I go to the Word with words and He hears me.
There is a problem. I find that there is much more to be prayed over than I am willing to commit to. If I start in adoration, where do I stop? If I move on to praise how do I quit? If my heart is thankful, how can I thank him for each and every blessing…and yet that is how He gives them to me, one at a time. Then there is the ministry of intercession. Christ died to intercede and I am learning that I must die as well if I am to fellowship with Him in His work. Some men have spent their whole lives with this as their primary ministry. I think of Praying John Hyde and Daniel Nash.
Personal petitions? We are told to pray for ourselves. “Give us this day our daily bread,” and “Lead us not into temptation,” and “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” I think it would be a tremendous study to comb the New Testament to see what Christ, the Apostles and the early church prayed for and about. If we took them for our example it would change the way we pray. I could spend many words writing about claiming the promises of God and about praying for the Kingdom of Christ to appear, and about praying according to God’s word and will. No wonder Paul said, “Pray without ceasing.” Ceaseless prayer is the only thing that approaches the task.
I claim no expertise when it comes to prayer. But I am learning that I can’t let the enormity of the task overwhelm me. If I think to much about what I can’t do, I find myself not doing what I can do. I must pray. The Spirit will help me pray. It is the promise of God.
If you happen to think of me when you are before the throne, would you ask the Lord on my behalf, to help me pray better? We need each other’s prayers so that we all might pray better. We need to pray until we have prayed, and then we need to pray some more.
“Lord, teach us to pray, even as John taught his disciples to pray.” Amen.