We are trying not so much to make God listen to us as to make ourselves listen to Him; we are trying not to persuade God to do what we want, but to find out what he wants us to do. It so often happens that in prayer we are really saying, “Thy will be changed,” when we ought to be saying, “Thy will be done.” The first object of prayer is not so much to speak to God as to listen to Him.
Prayer assumes the sovereignty of God. If God is not sovereign, we have no assurance that He is able to answer our prayers. Our prayers would become nothing more than wishes. But while God’s sovereignty, along with his wisdom and love, is the foundation of our trust in Him, prayer is the expression of that trust.
When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words than thy words be without heart.
Prayer cannot truly be taught by principles and seminars and symposiums. It has to be born out of a whole environment of felt need. If I say, "I ought to pray," I will soon run out of motivation and quit; the flesh is too strong. I have to be driven to pray.
Helplessness united with faith produces prayer, for without faith there can be no prayer.
Prayer is the spontaneous response of the believing heart to God. Those truly transformed by Jesus Christ find themselves lost in wonder and joy of communion with Him. Prayer is as natural for the Christian as breathing.
Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, “above all that we ask or think.” Each time, before you Intercede, be quiet first, and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, and how He delights to hear the prayers of His redeemed people. Think of your place and privilege in Christ, and expect great things!
Praying over the Word…has the effect of shaping our minds and hearts, so that we desire what the Word encourages us to desire, and not just what we desire by nature. That is why the prayers of Bible-saturated people sound so differently. Most people, before their prayers are soaked in Scripture, simply bring their natural desires to God, In other words, they pray the way an unbeliever would pray who is convinced that God might give him what he wants: health, a better job, safe journeys, a prosperous portfolio, successful children, plenty of food, a happy marriage, a car that works, a comfortable retirement, etc. None of these is evil. They’re just natural. You don’t have to be born again to want any of these. Desiring them – even from God – is no evidence of saving faith. So if these are all you pray for, there is a deep problem. Your desires have not yet been changed to put the glory of Christ at the center.
The purpose of prayer is not for the disciple to bring information to God; the purpose of prayer is for the disciple to experience intimacy with God.
A man may study because his brain is hungry for knowledge, even Bible knowledge. But he prays because his soul is hungry for God.
God delights to give His children “every good…and every perfect gift” (Jas. 1:17), but if the physical blessings we desire were always and immediately given at our request, God would become nothing more than a big slot machine in the sky, and our prayers would become meaningless tokens mechanically fed into an apparatus as a means to achieve our whims with which we have no relationship. God would receive no glory, and we would pray our souls into a black hole. Whether God answers our prayers with a “no” or “not yet” or “yes,” His goal is to draw us closer to Himself in a relationship so that we might view Him as our ultimate reward.
It is the burning lava of the soul that has a furnace within- a very volcano of grief and sorrow- it is that burning lava of prayer that finds its way to God. No prayer ever reaches God’s heart which does not come from our hearts.
I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this, the measure of the intensity of your prayer.
Because [prayer for the church] is secret and therefore unrewarded by men, we shall only undertake it if we long for their spiritual welfare more than for their thanks.
Easiness of desire is a great enemy to the success of a good man’s prayer. It must be an intent, zealous, busy, operative prayer. For consider what a huge indecency it is that a man should speak to God for a thing that he values not. Our prayers upbraid our spirits when we beg tamely for those things for which we ought to die. Things which are more precious than Imperial Scepters, richer than the spoils of the sea or the treasures of the Indian hills.
The great Heavenly Banker will not cash checks for us if our motives are not right. Is not this why so many fail in prayer? Christ’s name is the revelation of His character. To pray “in His name” is to pray in His character, as His representative sent by Him: it is to pray by His Spirit and according to His will; to have His approval in our asking, to seek what He seeks, to ask help to do what He Himself would wish to be done, and to desire to do it not for our own glorification, but for His glory alone. To pray “in His name” we must have identity of interests and purpose. Self and its aims and desires must be entirely controlled by God’s Holy Spirit, so that our wills are in complete harmony with Christ’s will.
He bids us come to Him whenever we like for all we need. His resources are infinite. But He bids us to remember that we should ask only for those things that are according to His will – only for that which will bring glory to His name.
The highest form of prayer is not, “Thy way, O God, not mine,” but “My way, O God, is Thine!” We are taught to pray, not “Thy will be changed,” but “Thy will be done."