“The inner action of prayer takes precedence over the outer action of proclamation. The implication of this for pastoral work is plain: it begins in prayer. Anything creative, anything powerful, anything biblical, insofar as we are participants in it, originates in prayer. Pastors who imitate the preaching and moral action of the prophets without also imitating the prophets’ deep praying and worship so evident in the Psalms are an embarrassment to the faith and an encumbrance to the church.” (Eugene Peterson in Working the Angles)
“Let us thoroughly understand ourselves and understand, also, this great business of prayer. Our one great business is prayer, and we will never do it well without we fasten to it by all binding force. We will never do it well without arranging the best conditions of doing it well. Satan has suffered so much by good praying that all his wily, shrewd and ensnaring devices will be used to cripple its performances.
We must, by all the fastenings we can find, cable ourselves to prayer. To be loose in time and place is to open the door to Satan. To be exact, prompt, unswerving, and careful in even the little things, is to buttress ourselves against the Evil One.” (E. M. Bounds in The Reality of Prayer)
“If we believe with our minds that God is holy, we must also come to find his holiness enjoyable and satisfying just to praise it. If we believe the great God of the universe really loves us, it should make us emotionally unshakable in the face of criticism, suffering, and death. In short, we must be able to existentially access our doctrinal convictions. If doctrinal soundness is not accompanied by heart experience, it will lead eventually to nominal Christianity – that is, in name only – and eventually to nonbelief. The irony is that many conservative Christians, most concerned about conserving true and sound doctrine, neglect the importance of prayer and make no effort to experience God, and this can lead to the eventual loss of sound doctrine.” (Tim Keller in Prayer)
“Meditation is likened to tree roots taking in water. That means not merely knowing a truth but taking it inside and making it part of yourself. Meditation is spiritually ‘tasting’ the Scripture – delighting in it, sensing the sweetness of the teaching, feeling the conviction of what it tells us about ourselves, and thanking God and praising God for what it shows us about him. Meditation is also spiritually ‘digesting’ the Scripture – applying it, thinking out how it affects you, describes you, guides you in the most practical way. It is drawing strength from the Scripture, letting it give you hope, using it to remember how loved you are. To shift metaphors, meditation is taking the truth down into our hearts until it catches fire there and begins to melt and shape our reactions to God, ourselves, and the world.” (Tim Keller in Prayer)
“All prayer is responding to God. In all cases God is the initiator – ‘hearing’ always precedes asking. God comes to us first or we would never reach out to him. Yet all prayers are not alike or equally effective in relating to God. The clearer our understanding of who God is, the better our prayers. Instinctive prayer is like an emergency flare in reaction to a general sense of God’s reality. Prayer as a spiritual gift is a genuine, personal conversation in reply to God’s specific, verbal revelation.
Yet prayer can be even more than that. Many or perhaps most of our conversations are relatively superficial. Persons can exchange information without much self-disclosure. Some conversations, however, go deep and we sense that both of us are revealing not just information but our very selves. The conversation then becomes a personal encounter, a true connection.” (Tim Keller in Prayer)
And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus uttered this prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before his crucifixion. The stakes could not have been higher. In fact, Luke tells us that Jesus was sweating drops of blood as he prayed this prayer. The cross loomed large in his mind. He would soon bear the weight of sin. But, his prayer was simple.
1. He acknowledged that his Heavenly Father was all powerful.
2. He requested that the cup be removed.
3. He submitted to his Father’s will.
Eugene Peterson summed it up this way in the Message: “Papa, Father, you can – can’t you? – get me out of this. Take this cup away from me. But please, not what I want – what do you want?”
Jesus prayed in intimate relationship with his Heavenly Father. He acknowledged the Father’s power to do “all things.” The thing, in this moment, he requested was that the cup of suffering would be taken away. Yet, he finished his prayer asking his Father to fulfill his plan. William Lane, in his commentary on Mark, wrote that Jesus demonstrated “obedient surrender and unconditional faith” in this prayer.
Are we willing to pray like this?
Do we really believe that God can do all things? Will we lay out our requests before him believing he wants to hear from us? Are we willing to submit to his plan?
The focus of prayer is not to get something we want from God. Prayer is primarily about spiritual formation. We pray in faith believing God can do all things. We pray transparently knowing God wants to hear our cares and concerns. We pray submitting to what God wants. Praying like this forms us and makes us useful in the hands of a good and sovereign Heavenly Father.
5 Types of Prayer
It is essential to understand and practice each prayer type on a regular basis. Each type of prayer has a unique and vital role in the believer’s relationship with God. For this reason, no prayer type is more or less important than the others.
1. Praise & Thanksgiving: Praise and thanksgiving are the primary ways we give daily adoration and worship to God.
2. Confession: Consistent confession is the primary way we receive God’s forgiveness and maintain a Spirit-filled life.
3. Petition: Petition is the type of prayer in which we present our individual needs and desires to God.
4. Intercession: Intercession is the type of prayer that focuses on the needs of others.
5. Meditation: The act of reflecting on God’s Word and quietly listening for His still small voice.
(Gregory Frizzell, How To Develop A Powerful Prayer Life)