A deeper knowledge of God. D. A. Carson in his book A Call To Spiritual Reformation: Priorities From Paul And His Prayers makes a compelling case that what churches need is a commitment to know God deeper, which will come as God’s people avail themselves to Him in prayer. Carson spends the majority of the book walking through several prayers that Paul writes in his epistles and spends one chapter discussing various words of wisdom he has gleaned over the years from saints who had an intimate prayer life. In typical Carson-fashion, his words are biblically rich and constantly exhort the reader to fix their eyes upon Jesus. Here are eight truths that left an indelible impression on Carson as he observed the prayer life of saints throughout life:
- Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray. Just as we do not drift into spiritual life, we do not drift into disciplined prayer.
- Adopt practical ways to impede mental drift. Any Christian can attest to times where they’ve committed to pray only to have their mind wander to a million other issues. Carson recommends vocalizing your prayers, praying over the Scriptures or even pacing as you pray.
- Seek out a prayer-partner relationship.
- Choose models of prayer. Carson advocates finding a model you can adopt as your own but exhorts readers to be careful to choose well; study their content, their breadth, their passion and their unction.
- Develop a system for your prayer lists. Find a system of praying that is flexible, up-to-date, expandable and above, all helps you to pray.
- Mingle praise, confession, and intercession; but when you intercede, try to tie as many requests as possible to Scripture. We will know what the Father desires as we read and study the Scriptures. As we become knowledgeable about the Scriptures our prayers will become more biblically informed.
- If you are in any form of spiritual leadership, work at your public prayers. Many facets of Christian discipleship, not least prayer, are rather more effectively passed on by modeling than by formal teaching. Good praying is more easily caught than taught.
- Pray until you pray. This puritan phrase means that Christians should pray long enough and honestly enough, at a single session, to get past the feeling of formalism and unreality that attends not a little praying.
What are your thoughts with Carson’s comment that what churches need today is a deeper knowledge of God, which will come through a more biblically robust, regular and passionate prayer life? Do you agree or disagree? Would you challenge his statement? Why or why not?