Ways to more effective prayer

(This study is based on the book of D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation; Baker House Book Company, ⓒ 1992)

Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray

  • We don’t drift into a spiritual life, and we do not drift into disciplined prayer. The opposite is true.
  • We don’t grow in prayer unless we plan to pray; unless we plan to pray we will not pray
  • Set times for prayer are important to ensure that vague desires for prayer become practice.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16, NIV)

  • Beware:  regular prayer can be just formal religion!
  • It is better to pray with brevity than rarely, but at length.
  • Discipline is not an end in itself:  regularity does not imply effectivity

Adopt practical ways to impede mental drift

  • Vocalise your prayers – but avoid pious showing off!  Expressing your thoughts in words and sentences will order and discipline your mind and help deter meandering.
  • Pray over the Scriptures; pray through various biblical passages.  Make notes as you read the Scriptures and when you get to prayer, pray those things. Apply what you have read and pray that God will help you that those those will become part of your daily Christian experience.
  • You can adopt as models several prayers in the Bible, e.g. Psalms, prayers of Paul for the churches. Let’s take an example.  For example, Read Psalm 27:7-12.
    • Spot the prayer points in it.
    • How would you apply some of it in your prayer?
  • Create a prayer journal

Creating a prayer partner relationship can be very helpful

  • If unmarried, always good to keep it to someone of your own gender (to avoid sharing intimate issues)
  • One to one discipleship: accountability and mutual encouragement
  • Regular for a set period of time
  • Christians:  not a place for bitterness or nurtured resentments – integrity, no gossips
  • Be open for the group to grow
  • Listen to others pray – and learn from it.  Choose models, but choose them well; don’t ape them, just apply their example of breadth, their passion. etc.

Develop prayer lists

  • Personal concerns
  • The world in general
  • Congregational
  • Friends
  • Relatives
  • Operation World
  • Missionary Organisations

“All of us would be wiser if we would resolve never to put people down, except on our prayer lists.” (Carson)

  • Write down some prayers for some people (without divulging personal detail) and later post it to those persons
  • It might be good practice to write a letter of encouragement to at least one person you pray for.

Mingle praise, confession and intercession – always tie what is prayed for to the Scriptures

  • Seek to know God’s will, not to change it; God is sovereign.
  • Prayer is not magic: God will not necessarily answer the way we pray.
  • Prayer is sometimes nothing more than a conversation between a child and his/her Father
  • Prayer should be shaped by our understanding of the Scriptures
  • Effective prayer is the fruit of a relationship with God, not a technique for acquiring blessing

Pray until you pray

  • The practice (exercise) of jogging is usually the preamble to effective running:  the practice (exercise) of disciplined and planned prayer usually leads to habitual prayer.

Our generation needs to learn that god is not impressed by the kind of brevity that is nothing other than culpable negligence. (Carson)

  • If we pray until we pray we eventually come to delight in God’s presence, to rest in his love, to cherish his will.
  • Prayer to God is more than nasty little boys ringing the doorbell and run away before anyone answers.

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