Discipline Yourself to Pray

This Sunday, Rev. Wing Mak spoke on disciplining ourselves to pray. I found his message particularly insightful as I am currently reading through the book Prayer by Philip Yancey.

Rev. Mak focused on Luke 18:1-8 and said that prayer is the avenue that God uses to bless His people. We were encouraged to visit  the Brooklyn Tabernacle in NY as they are a church that puts prayer first. Every first week of the year they have nightly prayer meetings and throughout the year they have different prayer groups praying in their church 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The presence of God is very real there and His power is evident in the number of their conversions.

So do you discipline yourself to pray?

Jesus wants us to pray like the widow in Luke 18. He says that we should always pray and never give up. He also lays out ttwo principles of prayer:

  1. What we pray for should be a matter of personal concern - we should be sincere in our prayers and not mechanical. This will happen if we pray about things that we are personally concerned about and not just things that we think we should be praying for. Philip Yancey echoes this in his book as well.

  2. Don't give up praying - the judge in Luke 18 answerd the widow because she was so persistent. However, God doesn't answer His people's prayers right away. We give up praying because we don't get the answer in our timing.

Rev. Mak also gave us three reasons not to give up praying:

  1. God wants to test our faith when He doesn't answer our prayers right away. Do you believe that God alone is able to answer your prayer? This is a test of our faith.

  2. It's a test of our motives. What is our motive for presenting our requests to God? Is it pure? Or is it to satisfy our selfish ambitions?

  3. It's a test of our patience. When you pray, let God answer in His own way, in His own time. The discipline to pray is lacking today because we trust other things besides God.

The message concluded with this thought: when we pray, we honour God because ultimately He is the one responsible for our results and these are the results that will last.

And here's a quote from Philip Yancey's book on disciplining yourself to pray:
For years I resisted a regular routine of prayer, belieivng that communication with God should be spontaneous and free...Eventually I learned that spontaneity flows from disciline. Leonardo da Vinci spent ten years drawing ears, elbows, hands, and other parts of the body in many different aspects. Then one day he set aside the exercises and painted what he saw. Likewise, athletes and musicians never become great without regular practice. I found that I needed the discipline of regularity to make possible those exceptional times of free communication with God.

 I hope you will be encouraged to start (or continue) praying regularly!