As a parent, I'd much prefer my young children to climb up into my lap and speak honestly. "Daddy, I'm afraid of the dark. Would you help me?" Imagine the same child standing before me, addressing me thus: "Grand Omnipotent Father of the Household, I beseech your presence. Great provider of all I have, grant me thy presence through the long watches of the night, for lingering fears beset me--verily, until dawn's first rays at last light my heart with hope." Odd picture. But that's exactly how many of us pray to our heavenly Father--or think we have to pray. (Craig Groeschel, The Christian Atheist, 81-2)
There is nothing in which we need to take so many lessons as in prayer. There is nothing of which we are so utterly ignorant when we first begin; there is nothing in which we are so helpless. And there is nothing else that we are so bad at all our days. We have an inborn, a constitutional, a habitual, and, indeed, an hereditary dislike of prayer, and of everything of the nature of prayer. We are not only ignorant here, and incapable: we are incorrigibly and unconquerably unwilling to learn. And when we begin to learn we need a lesson every day, almost every hour. (Alexander Whyte, LORD Teach Us to Pray, 257)
Now it is necessary to know, and ever to keep in mind, that prayer is the all-comprehending name that is given to every step in our return to God. True prayer, the richest and the ripest prayer, the most acceptable and the most prevailing prayer, embraces many elements: it is made up of many operations of the mind, and many motions of the heart. (Alexander Whyte, Lord Teach Us to Pray, 185)
I have often said that prayer and praise are like the breathing in and out of air and make up that spiritual respiration by which the inner life is instrumentally supported. We take in an inspiration of heavenly air as we pray; we breathe it out again in praise unto God from whom it came. If, then, we would be healthy in spirit, let us be abundant in thanksgiving. Prayer, like the root of a tree, seeks for and finds nutriment; praise, like the fruit, renders a revenue to the owner of the vineyard. Prayer is for ourselves; praise is for God. Let us never be so selfish as to abound in the one and fail in the other. (Charles Spurgeon, The Practice of Praise, 93)
Praying and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer. ~ J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion
Prayer is both the easiest thing to do and the hardest thing we will ever do. There is so much against our prayer life. For one, the enemy of man's soul despises the power of prayer and so, with everything he can muster, he will discourage our prayer life. (A.W. Tozer, Preparing for Jesus' Return, 198)
Concerning wandering thoughts in prayer.
YOU tell me nothing new: you are not the only one that is troubled with wandering thoughts. Our mind is extremely roving; but as the will is mistress of all our faculties, she must recall them, and carry them to GOD, as their last end.
When the mind, for want of being sufficiently reduced by recollection, at our first engaging in devotion, has contracted certain bad habits of wandering and dissipation, they are difficult to overcome, and commonly draw us, even against our wills, to the things of the earth.
I believe one remedy for this is, to confess our faults, and to humble ourselves before GOD. I do not advise you to use multiplicity of words in prayer; many words and long discourses being often the occasions of wandering: hold yourself in prayer before GOD, like a dumb or paralytic beggar at a rich man’s gate: let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the LORD. If it sometimes wander, and withdraw itself from Him, do not much disquiet yourself for that; trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind, than to re-collect it; the will must bring it back in tranquillity; if you persevere in this manner, GOD will have pity on you.
One way to re-collect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquillity, is not to let it wander too far at other times: you should keep it strictly in the presence of GOD; and being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings.
I have told you already at large, in my former letters, of the advantages we may draw from this practice of the presence of GOD: let us set about it seriously and pray for one another. ~ Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God, 8th letter
Prayer is what we need to be taught. And though in its beginnings prayer is so simple that even a small child can pray, it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which anyone can rise. It is fellowship with the unseen and most holy One. ~ Andrew Murray, Teach Me To Pray
If He has said much about prayer, it is because He knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. Dost thou want nothing? Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord's mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father's face, and live in thy Father's love. Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of His love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, "Continue in prayer." ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning, January 2
Oh, let us be a praying people, and let this year--and all our years--be saturated with prayers to the Lord of all power and all good. (John Piper, Pierced by the Word, 51-52)
What would your prayers look like if you believed that the cross really was the measure of God's compassion for someone? (J.D. Greear, Gospel, 171)
We cannot work miracles as He did; in this He stands alone. But we can walk in His steps, in the matter of private devotion. If we have the Spirit of adoption, we can pray. Let us resolve to pray more than we have done hitherto. Let us strive to make time, and place, and opportunity for being alone with God. Above all, let us not only pray BEFORE we attempt to work for God, but pray also AFTER our work is done. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Mark)
Let us name all whom we love before God continually. Let us pray for all — the worst, the hardest, and the most unbelieving. Let us continue praying for them year after year, in spite of their continued unbelief. God's time of mercy may be a distant one. Our eyes may not see an answer to our intercession. The answer may not come for ten, fifteen, or twenty years. It may not come until we have exchanged prayer for praise, and are far away from this world. But while we live, let us pray for others. It is the greatest kindness we can do to any one, to speak for him to our Lord Jesus Christ. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Mark)
Heart-prayers are the prayers He loves to hear. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Mark)
True prayer may be described as the soul rising from earth to have fellowship with heaven. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David, Psalm 25
We can no more pray too much than we can love too much. (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, 69)
The true Christian finds no difficulty in speaking to his Savior. Every day he has something to tell Him, and he is not happy unless he tells it. He speaks to Him in prayer every morning and night. He tells Him his needs and desires, his feelings and his fears. He asks counsel of Him in difficulty. He asks comfortof Him in trouble. He cannot help it. He must converse with his Savior continually, or he would faint by the way. And why is this? Simply because he loves Him. (J.C. Ryle, Holiness)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible