“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:6
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” – Matthew 21:22
[ The Parable of the Persistent Widow ] “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” – Luke 18:1
[ The Fellowship of the Believers ] “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”– Acts 2:24
“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”– Acts 6:4
“Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.”– Acts 8:22
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”– Romans 12:12
[ Further Instructions ] “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”– Colossians 4:2
“Pray without ceasing”- I Thessalonians 5:17
[ Pray for All People ] “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people”- I Timothy 2:1
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” – I Timothy 2:8
This is just a short sampling of the importance and instruction for Christians to pray.
This is helpful, maybe even instructive- but does it increase the actual desire in me to pray?
What increases my desire and therefore my discipline to pray?
I have heard a ton of both good quotes and very bad pithy quotes about prayer that are suppose to move me to become a better prayer-er. But if I am honest they tend to make me feel mildly guilty or somewhat self-willed towards prayer. One thing I know about myself- I am great at assuaging my guilt with a nicely laid out plan to do better. I can start a habit out of self-will that will make me feel I have become something that I really am not- at least until I don’t care to keep the habit anymore.
What has truly caused me to have a growing appetite in prayer recently is God’s Benevolence.
I have been thinking on this since the summer, in new ways. Several things have moved me to a deeper appreciation of the reality of God’s goodness shown to me, to us, to humans. One is a slow re-read of John Piper’s book Desiring God. Another is a deeper appreciation for the Puritan writers understanding of God. But mostly it is just a growing realization of my hearts need to delight in something bigger, greater, more then what is here.
It has become a thirst that longs to be quenched daily. It has become a hunger that can only be filled when my head and heart is oriented around the person and purpose of God. This need to find true delight has caused me to grow in prayer.
I recently read a sermon by one of my favourite old dead preachers, Charles Spurgeon, with this same basic idea of DELIGHTING in PRAYER- In it he makes a ten point argument on why it is impossible to believe in a GOOD (benevolent) God and then to think that God might not hear or answer our prayers.
“It is NOT possible, that a man should sincerely, in God’s own appointed way, seek for mercy and eternal life and not find it. It is not possible, that a man should earnestly from his heart, pray unto God, and yet a gracious answer be finally refused.”
How do we know this? [here’s simply a list of Spurgeon’s points- he argues each one out of scripture texts]
“1. Why then, are men exhorted to pray at all?
2. (If we have no or little hope of an answer) he who prays would be worse off than he who does not pray.
3. A God who does not hear prayer would be the authour of unnecessary misery.
4. A decent man would not treat his fellow-men with such a mean practical joke; God is greater then any decent man.
5. God has ordained answers to prayer to be a constant memorial, by which he is distinguished from the false gods.
6. If God doesn’t hear and is moved by prayers then His promises would remain empty.
7. If God has left prayer as a means only to emptiness then the cross of Christ is a mockery for the saints. (Christ makes a clear way for the saints to come boldly before God).
8. If God turns a deaf ear to prayers then those who call themselves saints have no gospel hope to preach. (The Christian God invites us into relationship not simply to keep rules so that maybe someday we might possibly gain favor with a god who might or might not be assuaged)
9. If God cannot be moved by our prayers then where does this leave the believer’s hope?
10. What mockery would hell make of all that it is to know Christ, if God refused to listen to the cries of his saints?”
This is what continues to fuel my renewed desire to pray:: Because God is good He invites us to pray to Him. It is the delight that we can find in the benevolence of God that causes us to become people of prayer.