I have had a 40 year journey of growing and regressing, and stumbling and growing, and falling again, and wondering if I knew anything about prayer, to thinking I knew all about prayer, to KNOWING that I knew nothing about prayer to longing for a deepening and authentic prayer experience. I know that prayer is critical, no, foundational, to the Christian life. I read the New Testament and I see Jesus rising early, going to lonely places, going to a mountain, away from the disciples, going “a stones throw away”, going to a garden to pray, and praying all night.
Since college I have encouraged men I was discipling with a particular exercise about prayer and have done the same exercise myself probably have a dozen times. It is simple. Take an 8 1/2 by 14 sheet of paper and down the left side of one of the 8 1/2 sides, write down these interogatives, Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, With Whom. Across the top of the 14 inch side, write down every text in the gospel of Luke where the word pray, prayer, praying, prayed occurs as a description of Jesus’s activity. Then create a grid.
Next step, find a quiet place, take your Bible and a pen and begin to look up every passage moving from left to right answering each question on the left from the surrounding context. There is a discovery that 100’s of men I have worked with have made about half way through the study. I won’t spoil it for you but it is worth it. Unfortunately, like me, you will probably have to relearn the lesson many times. But that too will be worth it because learning how to pray is critical to your joy.
Which leads me to an article by Tim Challies I read yesterday. I am getting close to my 500 word self-imposed limit for my BLOG posts so I will just give you his title and the seven points and let you go to the link at the end to read the whole thing.
Seven Ways to Pray for Your Prayer Life
Pray that your prayers would be the expressions of a humble heart.
Pray that God would remind you that he doesn’t want or need your eloquent prayers.
Pray that you would remember what the really important requests are.
Pray that you would remember biblical examples of answered prayer.
Pray that God would give you confidence in his sovereign power.
Pray that God would help you to persevere in your praying.
Pray that God would encourage you that he is your loving Father and will give you only what is good.