“We must learn to measure ourselves, not by our knowledge about God, not by our gifts and responsibilities in the church, but by how we pray and what goes on in our hearts.” -J.I. Packer
This is a series of blog posts entitled “A Pastor’s Thoughts on Prayer.” They are written to help readers develop a powerful and well-balanced prayer life. I have intentionally written this guide to prayer in simple easy to read language for all believers, both old and new. Each post contains a teaching on different aspects of prayer, including personal prayer, intercessory prayer, spiritual warfare prayer, corporate prayer, and community prayer. My desire is that these posts will help you grow spiritually as you learn to develop a deeper and more fulfilling prayer life.
Prayer is as essential to the spiritual life as air is to our lungs or water is to the body. For that reason, there is nothing more universal than the practice of prayer. If you think about it, prayer is one of the practices that people do around the world. There are people praying on every continent and every nation. One day in the not so distant future, the Bible tells us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 14:11).
Before you read any further, I must admit that I am not an expert on the subject of prayer. As Andrew Murray calls it, I am just a student with Christ in the School of Prayer. Prayer is not something that can be taught in a classroom, rather it must be learned through practice, repetition, and trial and error. Like an artist who spends years learning their craft, so a believer must commit themselves to a life-long pursuit of learning how to pray. Just as a baby learns how to walk with tiny steps, or a child learns how to ride a bicycle without training wheels, so we learn to pray by praying. There is no magic to it, we just pray.
The best and only place to learn how to pray is at the feet of Jesus. The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). That must be our prayer as well. The best way to learn how to pray is simply to begin to pray. Some books on prayer may be helpful, but I believe we should just begin the practice of praying. The best place to go to find real answers to the questions of prayer is the Bible. It gives us the keys we need to develop a powerful prayer life. The Scriptures are full of examples of men and women who walked with God and used prayer to impact their world, and we can do the same thing through prayer. Most of all, I think we should look at Jesus’ life and teaching on prayer if we are going to learn how to pray.
Please join me every Thursday for a continuing series of reflections on prayer. Thanks for reading.
Dr. Winfield Bevins is founding rector of Church of the Outer Banks and Canon for Church Planting for the Diocese of the Carolinas. He is the author of several books, including Our Common Prayer and Creed.
Dr. Winfield is the Director of Church Planting at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He also directs Asbury’s Anglican Formation program. As a seasoned practitioner, he has helped plant several churches and has used his experience to train leaders from around the world. He is the author of several books including his forthcoming book Ever Ancient Ever New: The Allure of Liturgy for a New Generation (Zondervan, 2018). As an author, one of his passions is the intersection of spiritual formation and mission. He and his wife Kay, have three school aged children and live in the Bluegrass state of Kentucky.