OK, yes I know: prayer is also a noun. But the point is, it is one of those terms that should involve us in actual doing, not just knowing. Indeed, it is somewhat strange to be writing about prayer, when in fact the real thing is to just do it.
We should be praying, not just thinking about it, or writing about it, or reading about it. Nonetheless, there is a place to discuss the issue. Indeed, in many Bible colleges and seminaries one can take a whole semester (or more) in studying prayer.
Hopefully such courses do not remain merely theoretical in nature, but are in fact hands-on courses. It is one of those topics where actual doing must be a component of the course, or the whole point of the topic has been missed.
Needless to say, the Bible speaks much to the topic of prayer. It is a vital component of being in God’s family. And sure, there are all sorts of theological and other sorts of questions that can arise, such as:
-Does God always answer prayer?
-What is the relationship between faith and prayer?
-If God knows all things, why pray?
-If God is sovereign, do our prayers make any difference?
These are all good questions, and worth exploring. But the simple truth is this: the Bible over and over again commands us to pray. So even though we may not understand all the dynamics of prayer, we are obliged to pray nonetheless. And the greatest indicator of why we should pray is the fact that Jesus himself prayed, and prayed a lot.
And Jesus was closer to God than anyone else! Indeed, he is God. So if one member of the Godhead found it necessary while on earth to pray to another, then surely we are without excuse when it comes to prayer. We should just do it.
Now much has been written about prayer over the centuries. Indeed, tens of thousands of books have dealt with the topic. And of course the best of these books are those which have been written by real prayer warriors. Those who pray and pray much are the ones best qualified to speak on this vital subject.
Thus I make no claims to expertise here, because I nowhere near pray as much as I should. But I want to grow in this spiritual discipline, so I am writing this article as much for myself as for anyone else. We all need to be encouraged to press on further into this most important of activities.
And of course it is not so much just an activity we occasionally engage in, but it should in fact become a way of life, a continuous state of being. All the great saints who majored in prayer spoke in these terms. For prayer is really communion with God, spending time with the one you love.
Indeed, it is to these prayer warriors that I turn for inspiration. What they say on the subject is far deeper and more meaningful than anything I can say. I am greatly inspired as I read their remarks, and observe their lives of prayer. There are many places where one can glean from these riches.
So I here offer a few gems from some of these great saints, as a means to encourage myself, and you, into seeking to become those who see prayer as one of the most important activities we can be engaged in. Read and be blessed as you discover the untapped riches of the life of prayer:
I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.—John Wesley
I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go. –Abraham Lincoln
One can believe intellectually in the efficacy of prayer and never do any praying. –Catherine Marshall
Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire? –Corrie Ten Boom
Of all the duties enjoined by Christianity none is more essential and yet more neglected than prayer. –François Fénelon
When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy. –Corrie Ten Boom
When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t pray, they don’t. –William Temple
Pray, and let God worry. –Martin Luther
Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your task. –Phillips Brooks
We waste most of our time trying to get God to do something He has already done—or praying for God to do something He told us to do. –Jacquelyn K. Heasley
The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men…Men of prayer.” –E. M. Bounds
The Church has not yet touched the fringe of the possibilities of intercessory prayer. Her largest victories will be witnessed when individual Christians everywhere come to recognize their priesthood unto God and day by day give themselves unto prayer. –John R. Mott
I must secure more time for private devotions. I have been living far too public for me. The shortening of devotions starves the soul, it grows lean and faint. I have been keeping too late hours. –William Wilberforce
If you are sick, fast and pray; if the language is hard to learn, fast and pray; if the people will not hear you, fast and pray, if you have nothing to eat, fast and pray. –Frederick Franson
Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons; but they are helpless against our prayers. –J. Sidlow Baxter
There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him. –William Law
Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work. –Oswald Chambers
“I would rather train twenty men to pray, than a thousand to preach; A minister’s highest mission ought to be to teach his people to pray.” –H. MacGregor
I don’t know about you, but when I read such remarks I am bowled over – both by my own prayerlessness, and by the depths to which the human soul can go, and the heights to which one can fly, when committed to prayer. Let us encourage one another to press on in this neglected spiritual treasure.