We know we must pray, and yet we do not.
To that end, here is a short guide to help Christians once again be a people of constant, persevering, believing, effective, and fervent prayer.
We will cover:
An introduction and a short answer
What happens when we pray and why we must
How do we pray (broken up into 10 days)
Six general guidelines
A quick definition
How to begin to pray without words
How to begin to pray with words
How to pray as we ought
How to pray in earnest
A closing prayer
An introduction and a short answer
So often we hear the cry of Christians who lament their lack of a prayer life, the dryness of their prayers, and the boredom they feel after only a few minutes of intercession.
In seeking a remedy they are willing to read about prayer, enroll in a course and attend a school about prayer, listen to sermons on prayer, look for a prayer plan or easy to remember acronym to follow - they are willing to do anything and everything…except pray. It is one of the great tragedies of life when we speak of prayer and then do not pray.
In short answer (although I will expand this in the guide below), to learn to pray we must get alone with God and pray.
There is no substitute for the backside of the desert, the mountain, the wilderness, and the isolation.1 This is the prayer school of the Spirit, where everything else is emptied that God may fill us and become all in all.
“Well, how long will it take?” I could tell you for some it was 40 days, others 3 years, another 40 years, but in truth, it takes as long as it takes. Are you in a hurry? Is it worth the cost? How badly do you want communion with Him over anything the world has to offer? To what degree will you take the commands and promises of the Lord found in the Scriptures literally?
The Kneeling Christian (published 1924) contains the following story which helps to bring our point to life:
Some twenty years ago the writer was studying in a Theological College. One morning, early, a fellow student who is today one of England's foremost missionaries burst into the room holding an open Bible in his hands. Although he was preparing for Holy Orders, he was at that time only a young convert to Christ.
He had gone up to the University "caring for none of these things." Popular, clever, athletic he had already won a place amongst the smart set of his college, when Christ claimed him. He accepted the Lord Jesus as a personal Savior, and became a very keen follower of his Master. The Bible was, comparatively, a new book to him, and as a result he was constantly making "discoveries." On that memorable day on which he invaded my quietude he cried excitedly his face all aglow with mingled joy and surprise, "Do you believe this? Is it really true?"
"Believe what?" I asked, glancing at the open Bible with some astonishment. "Why, this,” and he read in eager tones Matthew 21:21, 22: "'If ye have faith and doubt not . . . all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.' Do you believe it? Is it true?" "Yes," I replied, with much surprise at his excitement, "of course it's true. Of course I believe it."
Yet, through my mind there flashed all manner of thoughts! "Well, that's a very wonderful promise," said he. "It seems to me to be absolutely limitless! Why don't we pray more?" And he went away, leaving me thinking hard. I had never looked at those verses quite in that way. As the door closed upon that eager young follower of the Master, I had a vision of my Savior and His love and His power such as I never had before. I had a vision of a life of prayer yes, and "limitless" power, which I saw depended upon two things only: faith and prayer.
This unknown author of The Kneeling Christian continues their discourse to point out our Savior’s sevenfold invitation to pray given in John 14-17:
“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do.” (14:13)
“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (14:14)
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (15:7)
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (15:16)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” (16:23)
“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (16:24)
“In that day you will ask in My name…for the Father Himself loves you.” (16:26-27)
So I ask again, to what degree will you take the commands and promises of the Lord found in the Scriptures literally? Let us begin to pray today in earnest.
What happens when we pray and why we must
It can be easy for prayer to become nothing more than an obligation, a command to fulfill, or a means to a greater end. This approach to prayer will not sustain us.
Instead, let us change our perspective. There is no sweeter place, no more fulfilling communion, none more lovely. As we call out, “Let my beloved come to his garden,” He responds, “I have come to my garden.” (Song of Solomon 4:16, 5:1)
We must pray. We must commune. We must join together in united prayer. Here are a few reasons why and a glimpse into what happens when we pray.
When we pray, God sees us, “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to Your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6)
When we pray, heaven hears us, “From the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard.” (Daniel 10:12)
Our prayers move the hand of God, “And I have come because of your words.” (Daniel 10:12)
Our prayers are stored up in heaven and offered up before the Lamb, “the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
on the altar, “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne,”
and before the throne of God, “And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.” (Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4)
We must pray always and for everything.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:18)
We must pray because we are given so many Old Testament examples. 1 Samuel 23 is one such example. The story begins with David unsure of what step to take next, “Therefore David inquired of the Lord.”
As he rallies his men about the decision, they grew afraid, “Then David inquired of the Lord once again.”
And as one battle ends successfully, another threat comes upon him suddenly, so he once again inquires, “he said to Abiathar the priest, ‘Bring the ephod here.’ Then David said, ‘O Lord God of Israel, Your servant has certainly heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as Your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant.’”
Three times David prayed, seeking help as he faced looming decisions, fears, and threats - “What do I do?” Three inquiries and three answers in response. David prayed, God responded, every time.
We must pray because Jesus prayed, “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day…He chose the twelve whom He also named apostles.” (Luke 6:12-13)
And when we pray, we must believe, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24)
Therefore, “let us continue to go and pray before the Lord.” (Zechariah 8:21)
How do we pray?
The rest of this guide will attempt to answer our question, “How do we pray?” It is broken up into 10 days, where one by one we’ll address:
How to begin to pray (without words)
How to begin to pray (with words)
How to pray as we ought
How to pray in earnest
Let us consider two more things before we begin.
First, six general guidelines that I believe will be helpful as you pursue more constant and effective prayer:
Get into the Scriptures. Oh, the beauty and sufficiency of the Scriptures. Here you will find examples of prayer, inspiration to pray, and words that you can pray back to Him.
Get rid of formulas, acronyms, and checkboxes. Popular frameworks such as A.C.T.S. and P.R.A.Y. are certainly convenient and easy to remember, but on day two I’ll explain why these are often nothing more than the works and striving of a people who have lost a singular love for the Lord.
Get out of the mindset of praying with an agenda. This would include the common practice of relying solely on a written down list of prayer requests. We are not praying according to checkboxes. We are communing with the Living God, ministering to Him, offering up acceptable sacrifices on the altar of our heart, seeking His face, lingering in His presence. While we pray for many reasons - to glorify Him, be transformed by Him, to receive answers, to see His kingdom come, etc. - our chief aim is simply to be with Him. There is no agenda here, set it aside for a moment and get clear on your request, this ONE thing have I desired2.
Get your eyes fixed on Him and your thoughts thinking on heavenly things. It may not happen instantly, but begin the practice and discipline of fixing your thoughts on Him. If they wander, take them captive. Be fascinated by heavenly things - eternity, the spiritual realm, the gift of faith, the mercies of God, the train of His robe filling the temple - this is where the Scriptures will help immensely.
Get past the idea that prayer is secondary, unnecessary, or something that can be neglected in favor of the more important work. I think of the encouragement Jesus gave to Martha, "one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”3 Theologian Wayne Grudem has a post-it inside of his prayer notebook that reads, “This is not wasted time. This is where the kingdom of God is advanced and established.” As he explains, “This is just a reminder to me that this [prayer] isn’t preparatory to what I’m supposed to be doing, it is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Second, a quick definition of the type of prayer we are aiming for.
Our praying must be:
Constant. “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2) “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) “And they continued steadfastly…in prayer.” (Acts 2:42) “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer.” (Acts 6:4)
Persevering. “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1) “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” (Luke 18:7-8)
Believing. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24)
Effective and fervent. “The effective, fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)
Let us use these five as a litmus test of our own prayers. Can we examine our prayers closely, holding them under the microscope that reveals all, and say that they have been constant, persevering, believing, effective, and fervent prayers? Let us see where we have fallen short, repent, and begin to remedy that today.
Often the sweetest and most profitable prayers are those moments when we sit before Him in silence, unable to speak, because we are in awe, astonished, or overcome by His presence, His burden, His perspective. Here it can be said we are filled to overflowing.
And from this place of overflow comes groanings which cannot be uttered. This is agony from the depth of our being, expressed through tears, longings, and the desperation of an answer needed. Words are insufficient, therefore they must be laid down. We cannot speak, we can only groan.
So often throughout history, it is not the complex cry that moves the heart of God, but it is the simple groan, repeated, uttered in anguish.
It’s as if God looks down from heaven with a question, “Can you live without it?”
Do our prayers and the manner of our praying bear witness to the fact that we cannot live without them being answered?
Or have we forgotten the request as soon as it leaves our lips? Perhaps we would like an answer, but by our lack of persistence, we demonstrate that we are happy either way? With or without it - it makes very little difference to us. (source)
Read the Scripture below and then set aside everything else. No music, no journal, no cell phone, no multi-tasking, no one else in the room. Be still before Him. Wait on Him. Stay here for as long as you’re able.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Now that we have exercised stillness before the Lord, let us practice praying with words. Verbal prayer begins with an expression of our basest desires directed to Him. Oh, the depths of His riches that lie buried here!
I love You
I need You
I thank You
I fear You
I trust You
In praying according to these base desires, there are no set formulas or convenient acronyms for us to hide behind. These are systems of our invention that appear as the strength of a true foundation, but when the work is tried, the fire will reveal it to be nothing more than wood, hay, and stubble.
Our 5-minute devotionals, once a year night of prayer, and ritualistic prayers offered up at dinner, bedtime, and before the sermon are often nothing more than works and striving. They are boxes to check which appease internal guilt and an external requirement. These are pomp and circumstance, noisy festivals, and forms of godliness without power. These must be exposed and done away with in order for us to pray as we ought.
Therefore, as we begin today to develop a lifestyle of prayer, let us start with an examination of the cleanliness of our hands and the purity of our hearts.
Were we to peel back the layers of the heart I am certain each of us would find love, devotion, awe, wonder, fear, and trust, but perhaps not towards the Lord and certainly not with singleness of heart.
Instead, maybe we would find a love for the world and the things of the world and a devotion directed towards success and the works that lead to success. The awe and wonder could be primarily for the pleasures of the flesh. The fear might be a worry for material and temporary things such as what we will eat, wear, and how we can preserve the number of our days here on this earth. And our trust, when closely examined may be found rooted still in the captivity of Egypt and Babylon, meaning the pride of life, the systems of this world, and the strength of our own hands.
Quickly, if you find any of these, turn from them in repentance and begin afresh with the Lord. “I have not, and I see that I do not, but I want to love, need, thank, fear, and trust You, rightly.”
In these five expressions (love, need, thankfulness, fear, and trust) could easily be found a lifetime of prayer - let us start with just a single day.
Take each of these five expressions and pray them continually throughout the day. Make them personal, think about specific examples, fix your mind on Him, and set your heart to seek Him as your lips say the words.
I love You
I need You
I thank You
I fear You
I trust You
As we’ve practiced stillness and then examined the condition of our deepest desires towards Him, let us continue to pray with words, this time with a focus on results. Not the results that may instantly come to mind (seeing our prayers answered), rather we’ll focus on the results from our responses above, the implications of them.
Since it is true that I love You, then I praise You.
Since it is true that I need You, then I wait for You.
Since is true that I trust You, then I say that You are enough for me.
You may find one of these areas more challenging than another. If so, dwell on this, changing some of your prayers to be more conditional at first, “I want to trust You, but right now, in this one thing, I am having a hard time. Therefore, if I trust You, would You be enough for me? Show me. Help my unbelief.”
Spend time in prayer today telling the Lord about your responses. Use the list below to get started and then add some of your own. As you pray, you can stay general or get specific. You can repent or request. You can declare to Him or you can stir yourself in the areas where you see you are weak. You can use situations from your own life or you can turn to the Scriptures and pray according to the examples and promises you find there. You can lift up yourself or you can pray for others. Let’s begin.
“Because I love, need, thank, fear, and trust You…”:
I wait for You
I hope in You
You’re enough for me
I praise You
I believe in You
I will ask of You
I proclaim Your holy name
My soul rejoices in You
Praying with words also includes praying for outcomes. It is here where we seek first His kingdom, asking for it to come and to come quickly. We pray with the purpose of answer. And while many are accustomed to bringing their list of requests, we must never forget the grand purposes and plans of His kingdom that are bigger than ourselves. That there is a body being prepared, a company of people (called the church) being sanctified, protected, and kept until the end. We cannot forget that His is a name which must be glorified, His works must be remembered, and His Son who has been lifted high must continue to be lifted high as the only One worthy. Nor can we neglect to pray for the nations, that they would turn, repent, know, and love Him until the fullness of the Gentiles be brought in so that all of Israel will be saved4 (pray for the peace of Jerusalem!).
These are just a few of the outcomes that we must continue to lift up before the Lord. Let us practice these today.
Use the list below as a starting point and add your own as well. (remember, the Scriptures are a wonderful place to find inspiration) Do not be afraid to ask for grand, glorious, and global things. “Oh Lord, we ask that…”:
Your works would be remembered
Your name would be known
You would wholly sanctify Your church
Your praise would be established
Your glory would be revealed to all the nations
You would inhabit the praises of Your people
Let’s switch gears slightly as we examine what it means to pray as we ought. We’ll look at three things over the next three days, starting with: to pray as we ought is to behold Him, rightly.
Behold Him, rightly. In majesty, splendor, beauty, greatness, glory. In Him exists the highest measure of each of these of any that has ever existed.
Here is how we’ve written about it in the past:
Prayer is simply making our needs known to God, even the smallest, and at all times.
It is no focus on the exact right words nor in making a suitable sacrifice to get His response. But in everything, let your requests be known to Him.
Then, believe He has heard you, trust He is able, and wait expectantly for His providential answer.
And while you wait, praise Him, glorify His name, tell Him of His wondrous deeds. Lift up a cry of thanksgiving, pour out an offering of pure worship with songs, hymns, spiritual songs, and groaning which cannot be uttered.
And after you’ve let an overflow of praise spring forth from your heart, then meditate upon Him. Think of His ways, His nature, His character. Dwell upon His words. Set your mind to seek Him. Fix the gaze of your heart on Him and Him alone. Run these words as a record on repeat through your soul, knowing that they are life itself. Feed therefore upon Him as you meditate, as you praise, as you wait, as you trust, as you believe, as you pray.
And once you have done all these things, and you start to see Him more clearly as there and everywhere and all around you, there can be no other response but one of deep desire. A longing to be alone with Him. An eagerness to be in His very presence. A ‘panting of the soul’ as you realize no other place will satisfy, no one else is sweeter, more lovely. Oh, to dwell in His house, to be even a doorkeeper in His courts, it would be far better than a thousand days elsewhere. There is none that I desire besides You!
For our practice today, let us consider David’s prayer5 as an example and pray these words back to the Lord.
“Then David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly. David said, ‘May you be blessed, Lord God of our father Israel, from eternity to eternity. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to you. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all.”
Gaze upon and bask in His eternal nature, His greatness, His power and glory, splendor and majesty.
Declare to Him that everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him.
Bless His name as you agree with David and all the saints who have likewise repeated these truths, “Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all.”
To pray as we ought is to know Him, rightly.
Know Him, rightly. One whom we approach with a certain amount of familiarity. He has revealed Himself, we no longer come in pure ignorance to One who is nothing more than distant, shrouded, a stranger.
To continue with our excerpt above from yesterday’s encouragement (go back and read it if you have forgotten):
And in saying You to Him, we now see that all along we have been praying not to some unnamed distant all-powerful force, but to a Person, near to us, among us, and as Paul proclaimed in Athens, to those praying to the unknown god, “He is actually not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:27-28)
For today’s exercise, let us consider Solomon’s extended prayer6 during the dedication of the temple, in which he, “knelt down in front of the entire congregation of Israel, and spread his hands toward heaven,” pleading five times over that the Lord would hear the prayers of His people and forgive them, concluding with these words:
“Arise, Lord God, come to your resting place, you and your powerful ark. May your priests, Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and may your faithful people rejoice in goodness. Lord God, do not reject your anointed one, remember the promises to your servant David.”
Pray these words back to Him.
Appeal to Him as the God who, “keeps His gracious covenant,” who has revealed Himself, and who has dwelt with His people.
Ask Him to come again to His resting place as He clothes you with salvation and righteousness because of Jesus, His Annointed One.
Let our prayers reflect a knowledge of God, the way He works, and an understanding of His covenant of grace. If you lack this wisdom, ask Him for it, in faith, and it will be given to you.7
To pray as we ought is to fear Him, rightly.
Fear Him, rightly. Yesterday we said we must pray with a certain amount of familiarity, yet in saying this we do not mean carelessness, callousness, or casualness. He is not as we are, nor even how we might wish Him to be. He is who He is, I AM, and it is right to fear Him. Fear keeps us from assigning false characteristics. Fear stops us from speaking on His behalf. Fear causes us to guard our steps against idle words and the sins of presumption.
Here is the third excerpt from the same past letter we’ve been referencing (go back and read the encouragements from days 5 and 6 if you have forgotten):
This is not to say He is a man like us, nor to say that He exists to cater to our needs, nor even to say that He can be contained in our thoughts and words, for these are finite and our God, He is infinite, immortal and exceedingly above and beyond all we could ask, think, or imagine.
Many have stumbled in their prayer life by making this mistake, by only calling Him by one name, friend, as one would call out to a buddy. They lovingly speak to Him as friend, but never as Lord, demanding to sit at the choicest spot at the Master’s table, refusing to accept the teaching, “We are unprofitable servants, we have done what was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10)
As a bit of a longer exercise today, let’s consider two examples. First, what happened immediately after Solomon’s prayer8:
“When Solomon finished praying, fire descended from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests were not able to enter the Lord’s temple because the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord. All the Israelites were watching when the fire descended and the glory of the Lord came on the temple. They bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground. They worshiped and praised the Lord:
For he is good,
For his faithful love endures forever.”
And then secondly the Lord’s response9, may we fear Him rightly:
“Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to Him:
I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple of sacrifice. If I shut the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on my people, and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.
However, if you turn away and abandon my statutes and my commands that I have set before you and if you go and serve other gods and bow in worship to them, then I will uproot Israel from the soil that I have them, and this temple that I have sanctified for my name I will banish from my presence. I will make it an object of scorn and ridicule among all the peoples.
Why did the Lord do this to this land and this temple? Because they abandoned the Lord…he brought all this ruin on them.”
Pray these words back to Him, knowing the severity of His past dealings and that if He was willing to bring ruin to His chosen people, Israel, the apple of His eye, how much more so to us, a people grafted in.
Let this fear of God cause us to give up trusting in ourselves and to cling to Christ all the more tightly as we, “conduct ourselves through the time of our stay here in fear.”10
Take the same posture today, bowed down with our face to the ground
Worship and praise the Lord for His goodness and His faithful love
For our final three days, we will explore how to pray in earnest, starting with, to pray in earnest requires:
Resolve. I set my heart to seek the Lord.
I believe it has been said accurately, we have as much of God as we want. Or we could rephrase slightly to, we pray as often as we want. Therefore, we must ask ourselves, “Do I actually want God?”
The Psalmist confesses, “There is none upon earth that I desire besides You.” Whereas the author of Romans laments, “There is none who seeks after God.”
In these two verses, we see both potential answers to our question. We are either those who answer as the multitude, “We’ll take the created things, but not the Creator. We’ll take God, but not Him in truth, rather we’ll take the lie of how we think He should be. We’ll demand the benefits of God, that only good may come to us, but we will not seek after God.”
Or we answer as the Psalmist, “There is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”
David impresses upon us twice, “The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.” He is searching to see if there are any who can confess, “When You said, ‘Seek My face.’ My heart said in response, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’”
He watches to see if any will heed the command given through David, “Set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.” His eyes roam to and fro to show Himself strong for those who set their heart to seek Him, crying out, “Oh God, I call on Your name! I stir myself to take hold of You. Do not hide Your face from me!”
And His ears are listening for those who stop their busyness, to be still and wait upon Him, not content to give up until He is found “When I call to You, and go and pray to You, listen to me. And when I seek You with all my heart, let me find You.”
It is a great deception to think that once heaven comes we will get serious about the Lord and will actually delight in His presence above all others. Here is our training ground, our preparation, our glimpse of the greater reality. And if this glimpse does not fascinate us, what is to think that simply seeing more of the same will do anything different?
We must settle the matter once and for all. We have as much of God as we want. We pray as often as we want. Therefore it can be said that our trouble is not with discipline, but desire. Let us resolve to seek the Lord. Then we will begin to know how to pray in earnest.
Read over these Scriptures, praying them back to the Lord, asking Him to answer your prayers. Then, lift up the same prayers for others in your life, praying for them to be blessed with a greater resolve as well. Finally, ask on behalf of the entire church. “Lord, pour out resolve on your people! And as they begin to seek You with all their heart, I pray You would let Yourself be found by them.”
“For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, ‘May the good LORD pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers.’” 2 Chronicles 30:18
“Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God.” 1 Chronicles 22:19
“When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’” Psalm 27:8
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD.” Jeremiah 29:13-14
To pray in earnest requires:
Preference. Better is a day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.
As we mentioned above, our actions are driven by our desires. Therefore, as we resolve to seek the Lord, let us also pray to prefer Him. Who or what do we choose above all else? Is it Him? Not His peace, nor His joy, not even His salvation, but Him? Can you say yes to this confidently?
Carefully, let us not be those who go through this life surrounding ourselves with a type of godliness, devoting ourselves to the distraction of religious labor, but never seeking out His presence, that we might simply sit at His feet and hear His word.
We must be those who seek Him, who desire Him, who want Him, who prefer Him to anything else.
There is a reward for this life of toil - it is Him. “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Fear not, Abram; I am thy shield and they exceeding great reward.”
There is an inheritance incorruptible reserved in heaven for us - it is dwelling with Him for all of eternity. As it is written, “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them.’”
If He is our chief desire, then we must say, “Let all else pass away, we have that which we seek!”
We have our reward, therefore we covet no man’s gold nor store up treasures here on earth.
We have our inheritance incorruptible, therefore we rejoice, even though now, for a little while, if need be, we have been grieved by various trials, knowing that the genuineness of our faith, being much more precious than gold, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
We have our dwelling place with God, therefore we separate ourselves from what is worldly, carnal, and evil, cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Then can we begin to pray in earnest as the Psalmist, “Better is a day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere.”
Read over these Scriptures, praying them back to the Lord, asking Him to answer your prayers. Then, lift up the same prayers for others in your life, praying for them to be blessed with a greater preference for Him as well. Finally, ask on behalf of the entire church.
“For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84:10
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, because he preferred to endure the hardship of the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” Hebrews 11:24-25
To pray in earnest requires:
Desperation. Where else can we go? You alone are my refuge, my strength, my help in time of need. There is none I desire besides Thee.
It is one thing to say we believe, and another to pray in such a manner that we realize He alone is our hope and our only source of life, and that if He were to fail, we would fail. If He were to suddenly lift His hand, we would perish. That we are all-in, not necessarily by preference this time, but in pure desperation. To come to the conclusion we have no other options. Once we begin to understand this, then we can start to pray in earnest as the Psalmist, “Cast me not away from Your presence Lord!” Oh, to be so desperate!
Read over these Scriptures, praying them back to the Lord, asking Him to answer your prayers. Then, lift up the same prayers for others in your life, praying for them to be blessed with a greater desperation as well. Finally, ask on behalf of the entire church.
“But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” John 6:68
“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Psalm 91:3
“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy.” Revelation 15:4
A closing prayer
We've openly and willingly had a heart to critique, to oppose, to complain, and to wish things back to the way they were. Now, Lord, I pray that you would give us a heart to pray. Not at some point in the future, but that we would pray in this day, at this hour, all across this earth. Give us a heart to pray as we ought!
Let it be said of us that as you poured out a spirit of supplication, we responded in constant, persevering, believing, effective and fervent prayer. And that as we prayed, You heard and You answered and Your sovereign plans and purposes came to pass.
Let us once again be known as not just the people of God, but as the praying people of God. Let us not be as those who trust in horses and chariots, nor in the strength of our own might and power, but let us remember the name of the Lord our God. May the Lord fulfill all our petitions.11
P.S. Would you like to ask any questions about prayer? Or receive encouragement as you seek to pray in this manner? I’m here to help however I can - firstname.lastname@example.org
Where this guide offers instruction, these letters are designed to stir. May you be encouraged to pray.
Prayer is. A simple explanation
Do we pray? Dr. Stuart is known to have three rules which guided his prayer life, the first of which is perhaps the most profound, “Pray till you pray.”
Travail as unto birth. For whom and what do we travail?
What would happen? We must confess we personally know very little of this reality.
The Lord will receive my prayer. When we pray and why we must
“And he [Moses] led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God.” (Exodus 3:1) I speak about this in more detail here.
One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
Romans 11, especially vv. 25-26
1 Chronicles 29, starting at verse 10
2 Chronicles 6, starting at verse 41
2 Chronicles 7:1-3
2 Chronicles 7, starting at verse 12
1 Peter 1:17
Psalm 20:5, 7