The most important thing I can say about prayer is not actually about prayer.
Rather, it is about that which produces and creates desires for prayer. Isn’t that oftentimes what we’re missing? We can make a prayer list — that’s easy. We can create a prayer schedule and design our own method — that’s not the problem.
The problem with prayer is that so often we lack the necessary longings and passions and desires to pray as we ought to pray. In other words, we don’t pray because it is excruciatingly dry! You need to know that there is a solution for that. There is a cure for passionless, frigid, agonizing prayer. And here it is…
The secret to pleasurable,
passionate, persistent prayer
is meditation on Scripture.
That’s the secret. In other words, the fires of worship and prayer are produced in the furnace of the soul by the fuel of truth. If you want to worship and pray, then you must ransack the Word of God in long, long meditation upon who Jesus Christ is!
What is meditation?
Do you know what meditation is? Meditation is like observing the beauty of a sunset or savoring a meal or warming your hands by a fire. As opposed to skimming a text message, meditation is intense, rigorous thinking about a text in Scripture where you savor the texture, enjoy the seasoning and cherish the flavor—reading it again and again and again until your soul is awakened to the beauty of who God is.
Careful, rigorous thinking about the text of Scripture is God’s means of awakening glad-hearted affections for God above everything. That is the secret to satisfying prayer, namely, seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus Christ from the pages of Scripture. The reason why our prayers are cold is because they are not warmed by the fires of meditation.
Listen to how George Müller (1805-1898) described his life-changing discovery of the necessity of meditation as a means to satisfying prayer.
“Formerly when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer…But what was the result?…I often suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even a half an hour.”
Sound familiar? Wandering of mind, deadness of heart, coldness in affections? But then Müller made the great discovery about prayer. It needs to be—it has to be fueled by the Scriptures first! Listen to what he says:
“I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God; searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately…into prayer.”
The one who meditates well, prays well, because meditating on the Scriptures is the fuel that creates the fires of worship and prayer in the soul. So when you get up in the morning and every cinder in your soul feels cold, crawl to the Word of God—think, write, ponder, meditate—beat on the text! And the Word of God will ignite the cold ashes of your soul with fires of affection for God. And that is the most important thing I have to say to you about prayer!
Ten Minutes (a methodology)
Even after discovering the secret of meditation, maybe you still feel stuck about how to actually pray. Maybe you still feel like you just need some tracks to run on.
Maybe you are just looking for a simple, memorizable way to organize your prayer time. Well, here’s an idea—here’s a methodology of how to pray just ten minutes a day, which if you did five days a week would transform your life.
Take two minutes and just empty the sewer of your soul before God and just confess every thought, word, feeling, action and affection that flowed from a heart of unbelief. If you need help with the words to speak, just use Psalm 51 as your prayer.
The Bible commands you to give thanks to God and that’s all this is. Take two minutes to recite and remember everything that Christ accomplished with His death. Spend time thanking Christ for all of the salvation blessings that He purchased for you with His death in your place. And if you need help with the words to speak, just use Romans 5:6-11 as your prayer.
The Scriptures command to praise! So take two minutes to praise and declare back to God all of His perfections that make Him who He is! You can use texts like Isaiah 40:12-41 as your prayer or Psalm 103 or go through the alphabet and for every letter, declare an attribute of God back to God! For example:
and so on…
And fourth, you must plead.
In other words, take four minutes and just plead with God to provide what you need. You can divide this up into five categories: plead for your own soul, plead for friends and family, plead for your church, plead for missionaries, plead for the nations.
That’s it—ten minutes. Confess, remember, declare and plead.
You could work your way up and pray longer over time, but what if you began with ten minutes a day, on your knees before King Jesus in prayer just unloading your burdens? You could do that. It doesn’t have to be eloquent, it just has to be real! What if you did that? Would your life change?
Maybe the better question is: Would you ever be the same again?