Martyn Lloyd-Jones once wrote, “Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God.” (Martyn Lloyd - Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979), 2:45)
Commentator J. Oswald Sanders had this lofty view of prayer:
No spiritual exercise is such a blending of complexity and simplicity. It is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try, yet the sublimest strains that reach the Majesty on high. It is as appropriate to the aged philosopher as to the little child. It is the ejaculation of a moment and the attitude of a lifetime. It is the expression of the rest of faith and of the fight of faith. It is an agony and an ecstasy. It is submissive and yet importunate. In the one moment it lays hold of God and binds the devil. It can be focused on a single objective and it can roam the world. It can be abject confession and rapt adoration. It invests puny man with a sort of omnipotence. (J. Oswald Sanders, Effective Prayer (Chicago: Moody, 1969), 7)
The essence of prayer is simply talking to God as you would to a beloved friend - without pretense or flippancy. Yet it is in that very attitude toward prayer that so many believers have trouble. That is because communion with God is so vital and prayer so effective in the fulfilment of God’s plan, the enemy attempts constantly to introduce errors into our understanding of and commitment to prayer. Every generation faces the necessity to reprioritise and purify a corrupted or confused perception of prayer. For many, prayer has been replaced with pragmatic action. Function overrides fellowship with God; busyness crowds out communication. For others, prayer lacks a sense of awe and respect. Their efforts are flippant, disrespectful, and irreverant. Then there are those who believe prayer is designed to make demands and claims on God. They attempt to force Him to do what they believe He should do for them. Finally, for some, prayer is nothing more than a routine ritual.
You may view prayer with the utmost respect, yet you find your own practice lacks purpose and vitality, so you don’t spend time with God like you know you should. While there are many reasons Christians struggle to pray, I believe there is one overriding factor. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:
It is the highest activity of the human soul, and therefore it is at the same time the ultimate test of a man’s true spiritual condition. There is nothing that tells the truth about us as Christian people so much as our prayer life…. Ultimately, therefore, a man discovers the real condition of his spiritual life when he examines himself in private, when he is alone with God…. And have we not all known what it is to find that, somehow, we have less to say to God when we are alone than when we are in the presence of others? It should not be so; but it often is. So that it is when we have left the realm of activities and outward dealings with other people, and are alone with God, that we really know where we stand in a spiritual sense. (Lloyd-Jones, Sermon on the Mount, 2:45)
Alone with God - such an opportunity should be the Christian’s one great desire. How sad that so many believers spend brief amounts of time with Him, or don’t go to Him at all, because they have so little to say.
This hope for this blog is that it helps you broaden and enhance your understanding of prayer. You need to understand what the Holy Spirit-inspired writers built on the foundation of Jesus’ pattern for prayer set in Matthew 6.
This blog will examine the attitude all believers should have regarding their communication with God. All Christians ought to necessarily have their hearts focused on God so that communion with Him is an everyday, natural function of their lives. First, this blog will define and examine the vital need for us to be praying without ceasing. At the same time, we all need to guard against praying with the wrong attitude. That was what plagued the Pharisees, who viewed prayer as a means to show off their spirituality rather than as a humble opportunity to glorify God.
To correct the disciples’ tainted perspective of prayer gleaned from those hypocritical religious leaders, Jesus offered a pattern that gave a comprehensive view of all the essential elements of righteous prayer, every one of which centres on God. This central portion of the blog will cover each phrase of our Lord’s pattern of prayer. From the beginning to end, you’ll discover that Jesus focuses our attention on God - on His adoration, worthiness, and glory.
To help you apply what you have learned, the final two sections of the blog will examine the specific things all believers should pray for. What you read may surprise you, for just a s a father must correct his child’s priorities in life, God' must do the same with regard to our practice of prayer.
It is my prayer for you that when you have completed your journey through this blog, you’ll rediscover the power and passion that time spent alone with God can bring. I also hope you’ll understand that prayer is not an attempt to get God to agree with you or provide for your selfish desires but that it is both an affirmation of His sovereignty, righteousness, and majesty and an exercise to conform your desires and purposes to His will and glory.