Prayer, in most cases, has fallen on hard times. When a local church advertises a concert with a well known singer, the auditorium is full. When that same church advertises a prayer meeting, only a few show up!
Why do we struggle to pray? Maybe because when we do pray, we pray out of the natural desires of our hearts.
Prayer birthed in a me-centered heart does not touch the heart of God. For prayer to be effectual, we must pray what’s on God’s heart. And how do we know what’s on God’s heart? By reading/reflecting on His Word.
Prayer and Bible reading/reflection go hand in glove. “The Word is not only the centre of our listening; it is also the centre of our response” Mariano Magrassi. To pray right, we must pray the Word. There are no shortcuts to true prayer. Prayer that moves the heart of God is prayer that’s birthed, fueled and sustained by the Word of God.
Are you praying the Bible? If not, the scope of your prayers are limited by your feelings and perspectives. And prayer rooted exclusively in an individual’s experience may not be prayer at all.
Why do we struggle to pray? Maybe because we’re weak. Maybe because we don’t really know what to pray or how to pray (cf. Romans 8:26).
It’s a cyclical problem. We want to pray, but don’t know how to pray because we aren’t contemplating/meditating on the Word.
For prayer to take-off, it must first be grounded in the revealed Word. When prayer is grounded in the Word, it gives prayer wings to fly.
Tragically, for so many of us, prayer remains earth-bound because it’s tied to the vagaries of our carnal hearts. For prayer to take flight, the Holy Spirit needs to pray in us and through us. This happens when we’re praying the Bible.
Why do we struggle to pray? Maybe because our theme is so limited. We struggle to pray because it’s all about us.
When Christ died on the cross for our sins and we embraced His forgiveness by faith, we died to the old self. The old man/woman is now dead! “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” Galatians 5:24 (NIV). Why then, do we continue to pray self-seeking requests?
Here’s the good news for those wanting to grow in prayer: We cannot enlarge upon the prayer themes found in the Bible. Everything we need to be prayer warriors, is found in the Word! The scope and depth of God’s Word is beyond measure. Study the Word and you’ll have more than enough content to pray without ceasing!
Why do we struggle to pray? Maybe because we try to go it alone with our own thoughts and aspirations.
There’s a place for individual prayer, but not for individualistic prayer. Those who are in Christ are part of the Body of Christ. Our prayers are only tiny fragments of the prayer of the Church. And the fragments of prayer that make up the prayer of the Church is only true prayer when it lines up with the Word.
To pray selflessly, to pray the prayer of the Church, we must pray in the context of community. Prayer is effectual when we pray in one accord, i.e. in unity (cf. Matthew 18:19). That’s why there should always be another praying with us. And that other is Christ – the One who is the Word of God (cf. John 1:1-2).
Prayer is stimulated by the Word and inspired by Christ. Remarkably, God’s Word is something we receive and also return to God. How can this be? How can words that are not our own become our prayers? By someone else praying on our behalf. By the One who is the Word interceding for us!
All told, when we’re praying the Bible, we’re praying in the name of Christ. The Word belongs to us through Him. So when we’re praying the Bible, we’re praying prayers from His heart. And when we’re praying prayers from Christ’s heart, we delight God!
© Scripture Union Canada 2016