In my prayer life I can get lost in the details. This book helps me see the big picture.
I’ve been reading Biblical scholar T.J. Wray’s new book, What the Bible Really Tells Us. She has a gift for taking in a lot of information and summarizing it in a helpful way, especially when talking about prayer. In my prayer life I can get lost in the details. She helps me see the big picture. Here’s her take on what the Bible says about prayer:
1. We should pray a lot.
Three times a day is the amount often mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan,” says the Psalmist. But even that’s not enough. “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Then there is Paul’s oft-quoted injunction to “pray without ceasing.” I’ve always felt that was a real challenge. Am I supposed to stop everything to pray all the time? Then I look at Paul’s busy life. He was always writing, traveling, preaching, getting out of tight spots like prison and a shipwreck. Obviously he prayed while he did.
2. Prayer comes in many different shapes.
Like most people, I’m prone to pray when I want something. I ask God for health, wellbeing, peace, patience and freedom from worry, and not just for myself. This is called “petition,” and there are plenty of examples of it. Just start with the Lord’s Prayer. But I often forget the other opportunities for prayer. Like praise: “Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples!” Or thanksgiving: “O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Or just telling God I’m sorry: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.”
3. We can ask God for anything.
People in the Bible ask God for healing from a physical illness, from emotional distress, for deliverance from their foes. King Solomon asked for wisdom, Christ asked for strength. It’s important to ask and trust. “Ask and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be open for you,” Jesus said. He also said, “So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Now, isn’t that comforting?
Hopefully, these tips will help you to learn how to pray more effectively.