Tag Archives: Basics in Christian Faith and Living

Why Pray?

Basics in Christian Faith and Living

Why pray?

All of us struggle with prayer. Could we be more disciplined? Shouldn’t we pray longer? Our minds rush through all that we have to do when we get up in the morning and it is very challenging to set aside time to pray. Let us see what the Bible teaches about prayer and then apply some of it to our lives.

Scriptural Exhortations

Remember, we are commanded to pray (Eph. 6:18; 1Th. 5:17). Somehow this has not sunk deep into our souls. We unwittingly make prayer an optional discipline in our lives. It is relegated to the realm of our “feelings” — we pray when we feel like it. We know we are commanded to not murder, steal, etc. but we are also commanded to pray (along with many other things). Furthermore, we are also given a model prayer (Mt. 6:9-13). One of the interesting things we tend to overlook is the occasion for the “Lord’s Prayer.” The disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1). The question was not, “Do we need to? Why should we pray? I don’t have enough time to pray so do I need to?” Rather, we need instruction in prayer because we know we ought to pray. The question assumes its necessity.

Great saints prayed. Paul prayed often (Eph. 1:16; 1Th. 3:10). Peter prayed (Acts 10:9). OT saints prayed (Moses, David, Elijah, etc.). We have been given the Spirit of God in order to pray (Rom. 8:26). As it has been said, God has no dumb children—all true children of God can and will pray.

We must remember that Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, etc. also pray. Just being religious assumes that the person prays. Of course they do not pray to the true God and with a renewed heart. We are to thank God through Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:8; 7:25) as we offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ (1Pet. 2:5, “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”). God works in us that which is pleasing to Himself “through Jesus Christ” (Heb. 13:21). On account of Christ, we can pray and have access to the Father (Eph. 2:18; 3:12; Heb. 4:14-16). This is the privilege, gift and responsibility earned for us through our Lord Jesus Christ. No one else can pray like we can! We can go directly to God the Father (“Our Father…”); we have the Son who intercedes for us (Rom. 8:34) as well as the Spirit (Rom. 8:27). The Triune God has graciously cleared away every obstacle so that we can pray!


Christians have the comfort of knowing that God hears us (1 Jn. 5:14, 15). He will give us everything we need if we ask anything according to His will (1 Jn. 5:14). We do not receive because we do not ask and when we ask, we ask with wrong motives (James 4:2, 3). But the great benefit is that the everlasting God hears us and responds to our miserable prayers.

We can ask for our daily necessities and ask Him to forgive us of our sins. Furthermore, prayer helps us to fight sin (all this in the Lord’s Prayer). Thomas Watson said, “Prayer keeps the heart open to God and shut to sin.”

Many people love to talk, talk, talk, etc. about their problems to every soul. It may make them feel better but the sympathetic ear can only take so much. Would to God that we pray more than we talk to others. They may hear; God hears and can act. There are not many things better than leaving the matter to God in prayer— leaving confidently and with hope, “It is well with my soul.”


Many excuses have been used to avoid prayer. One of the most common is, “I don’t feel like praying.” That rarely regulates our interactions with others. If the queen of England, the President of this nation, or your own boss requested to talk with you, would you say, “I don’t feel like talking today.”? Of course not — prayer is not dependent upon our emotions; it is dependent on the word of God.

Another excuse is that we don’t have time. You don’t have enough time not to pray. Everyone chooses how he or she uses time; it is filled by the choices that we make. Prayer doesn’t fit in because you did not make room for it. If you can eat, then you can pray. Skip a meal? If pressed for time, then skip it and pray. Surely there is something you can skip? You surfed the web, you watched TV, you had “down time,” etc. but did you pray?

Often saints will say, “I feel so spiritually dry. I have no motivation, desire, etc. to pray.” This is probably the most dangerous situation to be in. How we respond at this moment will have an immense impact on our spiritual lives. Go to God and tell Him of your spiritual condition. Tell him how cold and desperate your heart is. Let that be the matter of your prayers. Let that be the concern of your heart—will He not hear you? Have you never complained of your heart to God? Have you never found your heart breaking and warming up as you weep over your cold lifeless dull heart before the Lord? The cold heart is warmed as it is talked about before God. The heart will not automatically become more willing to pray by not praying. What are you waiting for?

Methods & Suggestions

One, do not leave prayer to chance. Set a time or it won’t get done. Too often we leave it as an after thought. Two, have a place to pray. Remember our Lord’s words: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” (Mt. 6:6) Three, use the Lord’s prayer (and the catechism’s exposition)— this is a ready guide to regulate your prayers. Four, utilize a prayer list (not slavishly). Have you prayed for everyone in this room? Have you even mentioned each one by name? Five, pray out loud if your thoughts wander off. Hearing your own voice will keep you focused and help you to consider what you say. Six, use prayer books as guides but not as a substitute. Sometimes, we are wordless and the prayers of godly divines can be of tremendous assistance (e.g. Valley of Vision). Seven, pray scripturally. Learn verses, phrases, general content of various passages of scripture and use them in your prayers. Use God’s word as you pray to God. Eight, don’t just pray about me me, me, me, me, and me. Sometimes your problems are simply YOU. Turn away from yourself and pray for others. Nine, you might find CATS helpful — Confession, Adoration, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (I prefer CATS to ACTS though I don’t particularly like cats). These elements may be of help to many. Ten, consider fasting with your prayer. There are times to fast and pray—when was the last time you fasted? Eleven, resort to long seasons of prayer. Our Lord prayed all night (Lk. 6:12). At times, set aside a season of prayer for your soul. You’ve squeezed God into your schedule; break out and commit hours, a day, an evening, etc. to call upon the Lord. Twelve, praise God! Never fail to praise God for who He is and thank Him for what He has done. Thirteen, don’t make driving, walking, exercising times the only occasion for your prayer times. Does He not deserve better than being taken along on your agenda? Where is that secret room of yours? Fourteen, use a notepad and pen. Have one nearby so that you can quickly jot a thing or two down that calls you away from prayer. Fifteen, pray on your knees or fall down. Posture in prayer is more important than you know. It often expresses the attitude of your heart. Sixteen, remember, there is not one thing you will do this day that is better than calling upon the Lord!

Why read the Bible?

Basics in Christian Faith and Living

Why read the Bible?

Most Christians believe it is a good thing to read the Bible. Many feel guilty because they don’t read enough. Some feel dissatisfied with their on and off schedule. Others have no real method or plan but tend to read something in the Bible just to have read something.

Scriptural Exhortations

One cannot find an “explicit” verse that states, “You must read the Bible everyday.” But much in Scripture assumes its practice and benefit. Psalm 1 illustrates this perfectly. The godly or righteous are those who meditates on God’s law “day and night” (Ps. 1:2). How can one meditate on something he does not read or how can he do it day and night if he does not read it every day? On the other hand, if we memorized the entire word of God, then we can meditate on it day and night without reading it every day.

Our Lord Jesus establishes the simple but profound truth of our absolute need for God’s Word. He rebuffed the devil by quoting Deut. 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” He knew Scripture and He quoted it. But more importantly, from this verse we learn that we desperately need God’s word just to live. The analogy is simple. We need food (bread) every day to live but that is not the only thing we need every day, we need God’s word. Sad to say, too often, we think we can get along without His Word while we never dare forego a meal. The other way around would be better for all of us. In fact, we are no better than animals if we think we can get along with mere physical food. We are capable of and create for higher and better things, to be nourished by God’s Word.

Ps. 119 focuses entirely on God’s Word. Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is used to extol the greatness and benefits of God’s Holy Word. We are told to store up God’s word in our hearts so as not to sin against God (v. 11). The psalmist will never forget God’s word (v. 16) and begs God to open his eyes to “behold wondrous things out of your law” (v. 18; cf. 27). God’s testimonies are his “counselors” (v. 24) and God strengthens with His Word (v. 28). Christians too can say with the Psalmist, “your rules are good” (v. 39; Paul says in Rom. 7:12, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”). The psalmist delights in and loves God’s word (vv. 47, 92, 113, 119, 127, 163, etc.); he hopes in it (v. 49) and it gives him life (v. 50). God’s laws are sweet to him, “sweeter than honey to my mouth” (v. 103) and are the joy of his heart (v. 111). He longs for God’s commandment (v. 131) and “great peace have those who love your law” (v. 165). How can these things become a part of us if we do not read, memorize, and meditate on God’s word on a daily basis? This is not the heart of a legalist; it is the heart of a saint who is sanctified and mature.

Joshua was to keep God’s word and to meditate on it “day and night.” Why? “So that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” (Josh. 1:8) If God wants us to keep His Word (and He does), then are we exempt because we don’t read it and know it? We should be as Ezra (7:10), “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”

We read the Bible everyday because it is God’s word. I know of a man who reads and reads great works of literature and memorizes great poetry. It is impressive. Yet, those wonderful pieces of literature are not the Word of God. Should we not read God’s Word every day because it is his? Many read newspapers, magazines, email, etc. everyday; they will rarely miss a day. But God’s Word alone is fully and always true and it alone is absolutely authoritative. All the other writings are the mere writings of men.

We should read the Bible everyday because God still speaks and gives life through it. Because it is “God breathed” we can cite Scripture and say “God says” or the “Holy Spirit says” (cf. Acts 13:47; 28:25; 2 Cor. 6:2, 16; Heb. 1:5; 3:7; 8:5; 10:15; etc.). God spoke and speaks; as Scripture speaks, God speaks. His Word is life indeed.

For these reasons, we should read God’s Word daily and meditate on it day and night. It is not just another book but the book of books. It is absolutely unique and absolutely authoritative.


In addition to the Scriptural examples and exhortations, there are immense benefits to reading Scripture. First of all, it will make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:14, 15). Those who diligently search the Scriptures will understand how God saves and by the power of His mercy, will be converted. Once that has happened, the child of God will begin to know God through His Word. God makes Himself known. Eternal life and knowing God are the same (Jn. 17:3). Through reading and meditating on God’s Word, we begin to know Him better and all the blessings He has for us (1Cor. 2:9-13). No saint will ever grow in maturity without regularly and daily meditating on God’s Word.

Through God’s word we are given instruction (Rom. 15:4) on how to please God and are made wise through His Word (e.g. Ps. 119; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17). God afflicts us in order to help us keep His Word and His Word keeps us from perishing in times of affliction (Ps. 119:67, 71, 92). Stories and different instructions were written as “examples for us” (1 Cor. 10:1-6). In addition, we receive encouragement from Scripture (Rom. 15:4).

We are too often aimless and spiritually malnourished. Yet saints have been sustained and mightily built up through God’s Word. Are we truly benefiting from God’s Word? Do we read it and meditate upon it?


I want to give some suggestions on how to read the Bible. First of all, have a plan. Have a plan to go through the entire Bible. Some do one chapter from each testament while others go from Genesis to Maps. Whatever the plan, have one that will enable you to complete the entire Bible consistently and regularly. Remember, you have the rest of your life so devise a plan that works. [Use McCheyne’s schedule for those interested in a rather disciplined approach.] Two, use variety. Sometimes read the Psalms for a time and then go back to your plan. Similarly, camp out on a certain book or epistle for deep study. Read M. Henry or other commentaries to help you through certain books of the Bible (but never as a replacement for the Bible itself). Three, keep a journal or a notebook to help you keep track. If that is not a problem, have a notebook to write down your favorite verses, make notations on passages, etc. This will help you to recall passages and specific things you’ve learned from God’s Word. Four, memorize verses and passages. Use your Bible times to memorize verses and recite the older ones. This will enable you to meditate on it day and night. Five, set aside time that works for you. Mornings are preferable since your mind is a sponge. Don’t give God the worst part of the day or when you are least attentive. Six, invest in commentaries and Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias. This will help you to read with better comprehension. Seven, use a private place where you can commune with God and His Word. It is not a “show” but private worship. Eight (though it is actually first on the list), pray to God to help you understand His Word.