Persist in Private Prayer

Prayer seems to be one aspect of the Christian life that where every thoughtful believer feels the need for improvement. Few Christians feel like they pray as much as they should. Millions of words have been written by Christians about prayer. In 1665 Thomas Brooks published a little work called “The Privy Key to Heaven” in which He gave several principles of private prayer. Those principles offer practical instructions on how to pray better. For example, Brooks echoes the commands of the Bible when he instructs Christians to, “Be frequent in private prayer.”

Frequency in prayer is necessary because it is commanded repeatedly in Scripture. The simple command, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) should be sufficient to motivate Christians to constant prayer. Piled on top of that clear command are others that insist upon the same responsibility. Luke 18 records the parable of the persistent widow. The parable is prefaced with the disclosure that Jesus was teaching “that men always ought to pray.” (Luke 18:1) Romans 12:12 and Colossians 4:2 both command Christians to continue in prayer. Yet most Christians recognize in their own heart a tendency to neglect prayer. To help promote obedience in prayer, consider a few other motivations to persistent private prayer.

Frequency in prayer is the natural result of a deep love for God. All people naturally desire to speak with those they love the most. The Christian who loves God “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30) will long for regular conversation with God. Meditate deeply on the loveliness of God to promote a greater desire for deeper communion with Him.

Having a greater sense of personal need will produce a greater persistence in prayer. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made to God.” Doing everything with prayer is essential to the Christian’s peace in a world filled with anxieties. King David models persistent prayer that gives peace despite continued afflictions. In Psalm 55 he acknowledged the continuance of his needs, consequently he said, “Evening and morning and at noon, I will pray and cry aloud.” (Psalm 55:17) The needs never end, therefore, prayer should never cease.

The needs of others are constant. The body of Christ is full of needs. Christians who are weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:15) and who are remembering those in bonds as if bound with them (Hebrews 13:3) will be persistent in prayer for others. The Colossian believer Epaphras models this prayer life. “Always laboring fervently for you in prayers that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:12) Learning to feel the needs of others as deeply as one’s own will produce earnest, unceasing prayer for others.

Those who desire to pray “better” will pray more frequently. Better praying is not measured by the number of prayers answered, but by genuine communion with God. The one who desires a better relationship with God will be frequent in prayer. As with all skills, practice brings improvement. As with all relationships, time together strengthens the bonds together. The one who desires to know God better will pray often.