The Gospel and PrayerSean Gould
If Bible intake is the food for our soul (Matt. 4:4), then prayer no doubt, is the air we breathe. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines prayer as, “an offering up of our desires unto God (Ps. 62:8), for things agreeable to his will (1 John 5:14), in the name of Christ (John 16:23), with confession of our sins (Dan. 9:4), and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies (Phil. 4:6).
When God in His grace saved me at the age of 19, my prayer life (like any new believer), was not as full or informed as it is now. As I continued to read God’s Word and grow, I became more comfortable in my praying and also more biblical. I have found there is often a correlation between our knowing God and our praying to God. Perhaps you can relate and have experienced something similar. And at the heart of knowing God is the knowledge of Him in salvation.
The Bible says that God is the sovereign King of the universe. He is holy, wise, and good. He has created all things and therefore has rights and privileges over all of creation including us; and he will judge each person according to His standard of perfection. We unfortunately have failed to honor and obey God as we should and the Bible calls this sin. We are all sinners and because of our sin we sit under God’s righteous wrath and just punishment. But thanks be to God that He sent Jesus, the God-Man, into the world to rescue His people and die the death we deserved. By faith in Jesus and His work on the cross, His death and resurrection, we are reconciled to God, our sins are forgiven, and we have hope of eternal life. Friends, this is the good news of the gospel.
As we read Scripture we are informed about God, His promises, His ways, and His redemptive plan. We discover the Bible is not about us, but God and what He has done. We grow in our love for Jesus as our sacrifice and as our savior. The gospel continues to take root. The reason why the gospel is the constant fuel for our prayer lives is because as Christians, we never outgrow our need for the gospel. We don’t master the gospel and then move on to more exciting spiritual things. No, the gospel is the everyday soundtrack for the Christian, and it should be set on repeat.
We can now approach God’s throne with boldness, knowing that He hears us because of Christ and His work on the cross on our behalf. Our prayers don’t hit the ceiling or deaf ears but instead reach the God of the universe because of Christ, our great High Priest and Mediator. So be encouraged. God hears your prayers. Growing in your understanding of this gospel will warm your heart to more fervent and consistent prayer to God.
Do you want to grow in your prayer life? Then grow in your understanding of the gospel. Spend time studying and meditating on the various threads of the gospel and all that God is for you in Jesus. Don’t drift away from what is most important.
The Scriptures also give us good insight on the many people and items to pray for: holiness, love for God and others, our family, our pastors, forgiveness, fellow church members, wisdom, government leaders, the nations, etc. But instead of focusing on what and who to pray for, I wanted to briefly speak to whom to pray with.
Three Practical Reminders for Prayer
1) Pray alone
Jesus serves as a great model as he often retreated to be alone to pray (Matt. 4). This time alone in prayer should be both spontaneous and scheduled. Spontaneous prayer can happen anywhere: on a walk, in your car, at the grocery store, in your home or office, etc. Prayer alone should also be scheduled where you can devote more time commune with God and lift up the needs of yourself and others. Spend time reading and meditating on the many prayers we find in the Bible (Ezra 9, Neh. 9, Dan. 9, Matt. 6, John 17, 2 Thess. 1, Col. 1).
2) Pray with others
Spend time and energy to be intentional in praying with family, co-workers, neighbors, and friends. Small groups and discipling relationships also provide a great context for praying with one another. We often grow in our ability to pray by listening and praying with other believers.
3) Pray with the church
Be sure to lean in during the corporate prayer times in our worship gatherings. Even though one person is leading us in prayer, we too participate by affirming and praying in agreement. Our quarterly prayer gatherings are also a wonderful opportunity to pray with the church. In all of our gatherings, we are able to physically see the power of the gospel which brings redeemed sinners together to worship Jesus.
There are many obstacles in this life to keep us from prayer, but fasting from prayer is not an option for Christians. It is the air we need to breathe. It is an act of worship that demonstrates our absolute dependence upon God. May God help us as a church be devoted to prayer through growing in our knowledge of the gospel.