Phillip and Tony’s book is just as biblical, but more accessible and digestible than Graeme’s, being pitched at the everyday thoughtful Christian!
They de-mystifying prayer, and explain any true prayer begins in response to the God who speaks in the Bible!
Towards the end, they get very practical and down-to-earth, as in this extract.
2. I want to kick-start my prayer life but I don’t know how. Do you have any suggestions?
If you’re at the point of starting (or re-starting) a life of regular prayer, here are some practical ideas to help you get going:
- Repent of your prayerlessness. Confess your failings to your heavenly Father. Don’t hold back. We may sometimes deceive ourselves, but he is never fooled. Ask God to forgive you and to work in you by his Spirit to enable you to change.
- Devise a simple, not-too-ambitious pattern of regular prayer that fits with your lifestyle. Don’t resolve to have ‘a two-hour prayer time’ every morning before breakfast. The length of time will not impress God and it will most likely discourage you (when you fail to meet it). Start with a regular, manageable program—for example, a time of prayer every night before bed, or a regular slot at lunch time, or a walk before breakfast during which you pray.
- Work out what you are going to do when you pray. For example, you might use the time-honoured, simple, but very effective method of reading a short passage of Scripture and, from the passage, picking out one thing to give thanks for, one thing to ask God’s forgiveness for, and one other request to bring to God. You can apply these three points to yourself, your family and others you wish to pray for. You might even jot down a list of people and apply these prayer points to a different one each day. Another simple way to pray is to use the Lord’s Prayer as a kind of template. (See appendix I for some useful summaries of what to pray for, including how to use the Lord’s Prayer in your prayers.)
- With a regular pattern decided upon and a simple method to use, work hard at keeping to this pattern for 4-6 weeks. During this time, don’t try to do anything too fancy or different. Just focus on establishing (or re-establishing) a regular habit of prayer in your life. Habits are powerful and, if they are good habits, very useful. Of course, we should be wary of turning a prayer habit into a meaningless daily ritual—a kind of legalistic ‘good work’ that we have to perform in order to stay in God’s good books. Habits are best thought of as alarm clocks. Once established, they wake us up at a certain time each day and say, “Time to pray!” They are a helpful device for sleepy, sinful people like us, who by nature would much rather do anything than pray.
- Tell someone. Just as habits are helpful weapons in our battle against our own laziness and un belief, so too is Christian fellowship. Ask a friend to pray for you as you commit yourself to regular personal prayer. You might even find that your friend is struggling too, and that you can encourage and urge each other to stick to a plan of action.
- Once you’ve established a regular habit, you can branch out and do more. Extend your regular time, or think about other times of the day or other regular occasions when you might pray. When you’ve been talking to someone on the phone, pause for a minute or two after you hang up to pray for them. If you’re chatting to someone at church and they share something with you, stop right then and there and pray with the person for a few minutes. The possibilities are endless. I know two elderly sisters who live alone in different parts of the city. They call each other every night, have a chat about the day and then pray together over the phone.
These are all just suggestions, not law. The important thing is that we heed God’s call to pray, that we confess our stupidity and sinfulness in failing to pray, and that we get back on our knees again and again.
Now go and reflect on this series and work out one or two concrete ways it is going to help you get praying individually and corporately. And go pray!