Actually, let’s not kid ourselves. Thirty-one days of blogging about prayer is hardly 31 days of prayer. My lingering suspicion – based largely on my personal experience – is that it’s far, far easier to talk about prayer, read about prayer, or think about prayer than it is to pray. Anyone with me?
So as we finish, let me recommend this short article from Don Carson, ‘Lessons from the School of Prayer’, as a way of helping you take specific action. This originally formed an Appendix to his magisterial book on prayer, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, but has now been reproduced in this abridged form with his permission.
Carson writes: “We do not drift into spiritual life; we do not drift into disciplined prayer. We will not grow in prayer unless we plan to pray. That means we must self-consciously set aside time to do nothing but pray. What we actually do reflects our highest priorities. That means we can proclaim our commitment to prayer until the cows come home, but unless we actually pray, our actions disown our words. This is the fundamental reason why set times for prayer are important: they ensure that vague desires for prayer are concretized in regular practice.”
‘Unless we pray, our actions disown our words.’ So true.
It’s well worth taking ten minutes to read the whole article, but here are Carson’s big ideas – a potent mixture of biblical insight and practical wisdom:
- We do not pray because we do not plan to pray
- Adopt practical ways to impede mental drift
- At various periods in your life, develop, if possible, a prayer-partner relationship
- Choose models – but choose them well
- Develop a system for your prayer lists
- Mingle praise, confession, and intercession; but when you intercede, try to tie as many requests as possible to Scripture
- If you are in any form of spiritual leadership, work at your public prayers
- Pray until you pray
Well, what are you waiting for? Make your plans, and get praying!
Heavenly Father, thank you for all that your word teaches about prayer. Please help me to avoid the danger of thinking about prayer without praying. Please help me to pray for all things at all times, but especially help me to pray, as Jesus taught, that your name would be hallowed, that your kingdom would come, and that your will would be done on earth, just as it is in heaven. Please give me my daily bread, forgive my sins, and deliver me from evil. Please help me to pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.