Friday, March 30, 2007


This has been with me for awhile: I don’t quite understand prayer.

I didn’t talk about it because I was worried. Prayer is the required discipline for all Christians and here I am, not understanding it. It is therefore comforting to read, “Anyone who has not wrestled with this question has not waded far into the ocean of divine sovereignty or the mysteries of prayer. It behooves us to take another look at an old but ever-present problem.” (Curt Daniel, Prayer and the Sovereignty of God)

No doubt I have been wondering, if God is sovereign, then why pray?

We are commanded to pray nonetheless. So how do we do it?

According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.”

I think prayer is all about God, least about us. It is the acknowledgment of his sovereignty, seeking His mercy and resting in His grace. We can ask, but it all still rest on his sovereign will. We may not get what we ask for, but at least we have surrendered to his will, acknowledging that he knows best and his way is the best for his kingdom, least of all, us.

I have so much to learn about prayer. And Charles Spurgeon sets it in the right direction: "Pray for prayer - pray till you can pray, pray to be helped to pray and give not up praying because you cannot pray, for it is when you think you cannot pray that you are most praying."

Picture by Sebastiaan Olsman


  1. I think I learned the most about prayer when I was so desperate for help. I put down me trying to fix it and gave it to God. When you empty yourself of yourself then God can help. I do get not getting it. Until I hit the floor for help I had always thought “He knows this He’s God after all” He knows that we need to shed ourselves of ourselves.

  2. He knows that we need to shed ourselves of ourselves.
    Oh how we need to do that. I thank God for you. I am encouraged.

  3. I always have trouble when I pray with a petition. I can never understand why I am praying for something God already has a hand in.

    But my biggest problem comes from the parable in Luke 1:1-18 of the unrelenting widow. Somehow I have that worked out that I could bug God so much, he will give me what I ask for and somehow by prayer I am thwarting His will for me or whomever I am praying for!

    But so much scripture - so much of Jesus words - address this very thing, by telling us to ask in Jesus' name and it will be granted - that God will not give us a scorpion when we ask for an egg!

    I am daunted by this promise - prayer is such a responsibilty! (Totally ran away with this - sorry, prayer is a tough one for me.)

  4. Missy,
    Totally ran away with this - sorry, prayer is a tough one for me.

    Don't worry about it. It is by airing our thoughts that we get it cleared and questions answered, if not fully, at least in part.

    "Asking in Jesus' name" - I think that is the key. If we ask in Jesus' name, we are asking in him and if we think we can have a shopping list then we are wrong. Asking in Jesus name means submitting to his will and his kingdom. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.

    Thanks for clearing some of my thoughts :)

  5. Pearlie- This is such an important topic to think about! And I like your conclusion. In prayer, we come to know God's sovereignty and our place in our relationship with him. I often think of the quote about prayer that it doesn't change things, it changes people, and people change things. This maybe has some truth to it.
    When we know our place, the most important prayers - thank you, help, sorry and ouch should be almost as natural as breathing. But this is a life long process.

  6. Julia,
    Yes, it is so important. And I have much to learn from you from the series of sermons you had on prayers recently :) such a blessing! There is so much to prayer -- the fact that it is a respond and plea to a perfect God. It is such a mystery in itself, just how do we converse with a perfect Being but to acknowledge He is sovereign.

    God bless!

  7. I came to the place a number of years ago when I realized I knew nothing about what it really meant to pray. I began to just repeat the Lord's Prayer very slowly and think about each line.

    1 "Our Father which art in Heaven" God you are my father, you are a good father and you are in heaven and I am here.

    "Hollowed be thy name" I hollow your name father. You are worthy to be hollowed. Your name is worthy to be hollowed.

    "Thy kingdom come" etc, etc.

    It sounds very simplistic and it is but it began to work for me. One of my favorite sayings is "If you keep things simple they'll stay pure". I believe that

    Then in July of 2000 I picked up a book "Andrew Murray on Prayer".

    It actually contains six separate books by him: 1)Abide in Christ 2) The Prayer Life 3)Waiting on God 4) With Christ in the School of Prayer 5) The Ministry of Intercession and 6) The Secret of Intercession.

    This book changed my life. I have since re-read it 3 more times. I highly recommend it. I noticed in your list of books you have two by Murray "The Believers Prayer Life" and "Humility". I have not read those two. Do you recommend them.

    I'm not saying I have the answer. But I am saying I'm learning and "running my race" as Paul tells us.

  8. It is comforting to know that I am indeed not alone - we are all struggling in simply just talking to God. I am thinking some people may just wonder - what's wrong with us! :)

    I like what you do with the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus gave to us as a model. (Sorry, I can't help it but just a note: it's hallowed, rather than hollowed :)

    I do have Murray's "With Christ in the School of Prayer" but I think it is with my brother. I am so ashamed to say that I have not read the books you mentioned that I have.

    I have read Carson's A Call to Spiritual Reformation, where he expounded on the prayers of Paul. It is good and I would need to read it again.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts and the others' as well.

    I thank God for all of you.
    God bless!

  9. Pealie - Thanks for the correction. Spelling never was my best subject as you can tell!!:o) My subject is math.

  10. there are so many thoughts on many ways to do it.
    I just talk to Him.