How to pray

Sermon notes, Wallingford Baptist Church, Pastor Simon Hudson

From a series on prayer based around 2 Chronicles 7 v14

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7 v14 ESV

1: Pray in desolation – “humble”

No matter how great personal circumstances, we need to recognise our greatest need is our need for God. Our priority in prayer should be God himself, not what we can get from God, not using God or prayer as a machine for what we want, or for other attempts at solutions to our problems. This doesn’t mean we should never pray for health or wealth etc, but that we should pray for them only that they may help us to know God better, and not to try solve problems with them, when the real solution is more of God in our lives.

Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord ?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Proverbs 30 v7-9 ESV

Augustine letter to Proba

2: By discipline – pray

Martin Luther wrote a letter to Peter Beskendorf, his barber, in response to being asked how to pray.

So, a good and attentive barber keeps his thoughts, attention, and eyes on the razor and hair and does not forget how far he has gotten with his shaving or cutting. If he wants to engage in too much conversation or let his mind wander or look
somewhere else he is likely to cut his customer’s mouth, nose, or even his throat. Thus if anything is to be done well, it requires the full attention of all one’s senses and members, as the proverb says, “He who thinks of many things, thinks of nothing and does nothing right.” How much more does prayer call for concentration and singleness of heart if it is to be a good prayer!

Martin Luther, How One Should Pray, for Master Peter the Barber, 1535

Make prayer a habit:

It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.

Martin Luther, How One Should Pray, for Master Peter the Barber, 1535

The letter also provides a four stranded approach to praying from the scriptures:
*What does this Bible lesson teach me to do?
*What does it teach me to be thankful for?
*What does it teach me to confess?
*What does it teach me to be thankful for?

God hears a silent prayer in our head, but speaking our prayers can help us focus on our prayer, rather than letting mind wander.

3: Pray With disciples

As well as praying alone, praying together as a church, with family, and with other groups should be part of our prayer life.

4: Pray depending on the name of Jesus

Pray in the name of Jesus, relying on him. It is Jesus’ intercession that gives us the right to be heard.

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