Spiritual Transformation – The Discipline of Prayer

As I continue to more fully develop spiritual disciplines in my life, I’ve taken this month to focus on prayer. It seems appropriate as our church begins an emphasis on prayer life. I’ve done various studies and readings on prayer, and I’ve learned a great deal. Perhaps some of these reflections will give you cause for pause or cause for praise in your prayer life.

Richard Foster has said – “Of all the Spiritual Disciplines prayer is the most central because it ushers us into perpetual communion with the Father.” Prayer is something that should be a priority for us, not something we do if we have time. Martin Luther once said, “I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer” (Foster, 34). Quite a different perspective than the one I’ve had for far too long.

If that doesn’t challenge your heart concerning prayer, perhaps this will. “For believers to enter the Holy of Holies to speak to the Lord cost Jesus His life on the cross” (Wiersbe, 8). Prayer costs something? Absolutely! It is because of Jesus’ sacrifice that He is our ultimate and only High Priest. It is because of Jesus’ death that the author of Hebrews can say, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16). With the cost in mind, perhaps we should treat prayer as something more than a “magical blessing” for our meals.

The Apostle Paul said that we ought to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17). Therefore, prayer is something more than simply the inauguration of our services or a means of transitioning from one point to the next. It doesn’t have to be some static, solemn moment in our lives. In fact, “God’s people in the Bible didn’t fold their hands when they prayed. Quite the contrary, they lifted their open hands toward heaven because they expected to receive something from the Lord” (Wiersbe, 56). Oh, to pray with anticipation of actually receiving from the Lord! How could that be unless we know the mind of God?

As a result, you may also find that “…the better I know the Lord and His Word, the better I’ll be able to pray and see God’s answer” (Wiersbe, 13). Dietrich Bonhoeffer has perhaps said it best – “The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart.” When we pray God’s Words back to Him, we can hardly help but be praying in His will. Our meditation of God’s Word couple with our times of prayer can and should be life changing times.

Perhaps you don’t know where to begin. The best place is to begin where you are. Ask God to give you the grace to hear His Word and pray. Spend time reading His Word so you can know how to relate to His heart for your life and this world around us. Consider using a good resource to help you begin practicing this discipline. I’ve listed a few for you to consider. You could also join one of our Winter Small Groups on Sunday evenings and hear from others who are also seeking to practice the discipline of prayer more effectively.

Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated, nor should it be trivial. Perhaps you should take this week to offer your prayers to God with hands open, arms outstretched as you surrender to His will and begin praying in faith believing, perhaps for the first time, that God will answer you.

Suggested Reading:

Arthur, K. Lord, Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days

Bonhoeffer, D. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible

Foster, R. The Celebration of Discipline

Wiersbe, W. Prayer 101: Experiencing the Heart of God

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