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Let Us Pray5 min read

Much attention recently focused on the situation with Concordia University Wisconsin/Ann Arbor. A thing that heartened me as the Church worked through it was the focus on prayer. It has been my conviction in Christian ministry that, the more God’s people turn to the Word (a drum I beat every chance I get) and to prayer, the more unified and effective the Church will be. So…

Pray a lot.

Prayer is one of the great responsibilities and opportunities of Christ followers, both public and private prayer. It is one of the “roll up your sleeves” duties. It is not a mere formality to start and end a day, a meeting, or a meal. It is one of the great things you can do for a person, family, community, congregation, or nation in time of trouble.

God gave great promises about prayer.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7–11 NIV).

Martin Luther made some of the boldest statements about prayer that I have ever read. Being people of prayer is our heritage.

“For this we must know that all our shelter and protection rest in prayer alone. For we are far too feeble to cope with the devil and all his power and adherents that set themselves against us, and they might easily crush us under their feet. Therefore, we must consider and take up those weapons with which Christians must be armed in order to stand against the devil. For what do you think has hitherto accomplished such great things, has checked or quelled the counsels, purposes, murder, and riot of our enemies, whereby the devil thought to crush us, together with the Gospel, except that the prayer of a few godly men intervened like a wall of iron on our side?” (Luther’s Large Catechism, Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer).

Let’s then pray persistently. They say Martin Luther prayed for two to three hours a day; Calvin prayed even more. A wise pastor I know counseled his pre-marriage couples that if they are too busy for sex, they are too busy. And so with prayer: if Christ followers are too busy for prayer, we are too busy.

How much is enough? Wrong question. Paul says, “Pray without ceasing.” We should develop our prayer life in a way that makes prayer the default setting in our life. Unfortunately, this passage has been construed in a way that works against prayer. Some say that praying without ceasing means that everything a Christian does is covered with prayer by virtue of his being a Christian—so that he doesn’t really need to pray. Nonsense.

The following practices will help you pray without ceasing:

  • Intentionally devote a set time for prayer each day, maybe a half hour. This is not an ending point; it is the starting point. This will get you in a groove for the day, not finished with a spiritual duty. A friend of mine once said you don’t really start praying until you have been at it for ten minutes. I was never sure exactly what that meant, but my experience is that it rings true. Like all relationships, there is a connection between quantity of time and quality time.
  • Learn to pray on your knees. The Church and her congregations move forward on their knees. Remember, Christians are not dualists; we are “incarnationalists.” We believe that the body is a gift, although a broken one, from God and that it matters. So, our body as well as our spirit needs to be involved in prayer. There is no more humbled, and therefore powerful, position than on our knees with head bowed. (You might try praying standing with your arms lifted up to the Lord. You might try praying prostrate as well.)
  • Pray for your pastor. Never underestimate the dynamic between God, pastor, and congregation when congregants pray for their pastor. Trust me, that helps lots more than complaining. Someone once said, if you want a good sermon at the start of the week, pray for your pastor the rest of the week. There is more to that than you might think.
  • Develop the habit of praying when you are talking with people. Pray for God to guide your words, to help you really understand what the people you are talking with are saying, and to bring Kingdom impact on the conversation. Sometimes offer to pray with that person out loud. Such a practice will turn even trips to the store and greetings of people on strolls in the neighborhood into Kingdom adventures.
  • Never let a meeting at church happen without prayer. Generally, prayer will be the most effective part of the meeting. Pray at the beginning. Pray in the midst (you can either do this silently or suggest pausing the business for a time of corporate prayer). Pray at the end.
  • Find extended times for fasting and prayer on a regular basis. I have often wondered what Jesus experienced when he went off to pray through the night. Try it.
  • Keep in mind that spending time in prayer is never wasting your time. The time spent in prayer for family, work, the community, and your congregation may be multiplied in effectiveness.
  • Avoid prayerful sentiments. Never say, “I’ll pray for you,” unless you will. Never say, “You’ve been in my prayers,” unless they have. Prayerful sentiments are irrelevant at best and deceptive at worst.
  • Keep a prayer list. I keep mine in my head. There is probably a better place.

Remember, when we pray, Someone is on the other end.

Pray a lot.

This article, featured after the introductory paragraph, first appeared on Rev. Davis’ blog Toward Significance (towardsignificance.com/on-prayer-2/)

Photo © surachat yaepae/Lightstock

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About the Author

Rev. David A. Davis serves as President of the Michigan District, LCMS.

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Craig Britton - April 2, 2024

What wonderful instruction and reminders here from President Davis. Along with his consistent call to saturate ourselves with the Word. I’m thankful. I’m learning to read the Bible more slowly and that in itself seems to prompt more prayer. Thank you, President Davis. And yes, I am praying for you.

Tim Bickel - April 9, 2024

Thank you!
Even though I/we have experienced the miraculous/supernatural powers of prayer, we still need to be reminded that prayer in Jesus name unleashes heavenly power. We don’t know exactly how, but Jesus does. Your encouragement in prayer is much appreciated.

Rhonda Fiebelkorn - April 9, 2024

Thank you President Davis, for this wonderful, informative and very thought provoking article.
Praying is important.
Thank you for reminding us of this.
God richly bless you and your family.
Have a peaceful day.

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