“What if God does not demand prayer as much as gives prayer? What if God wants prayer in order to satisfy us? What if prayer is a means of God nourishing, restoring, healing, converting us? Suppose prayer is primarily allowing ourselves to be loved, addressed and claimed by God. What if praying means opening ourselves to the gift of God’s own self and presence? What if our part in prayer is primarily letting God be giver? Suppose prayer is not a duty but the opportunity to experience healing and transforming love?”
— Martin Smith
There is perhaps no spiritual tool more powerful or more essential than prayer. It is perhaps the most important spiritual discipline we can practice ourselves, and one of the foundational gifts we must impart to every new or spiritually young believer. And when we come together with the person we are meeting with, it’s one of the key elements we must practice.
So often, though, we fail to pray. Why is this?
1. Sometimes, we simply don’t have the desire or energy.
As Charles Spurgeon put it, “God’s own people need, or else they would not receive it, a command to pray. How is this? Because, dear friends, we are very subject to fits of worldliness, if indeed that be not our usual state. We do not forget to eat: we do not forget to be diligent in business: we do not forget to go to our beds to rest: but we often do forget to wrestle with God in prayer, and to spend, as we ought to spend, long periods in consecrated fellowship with our Father and our God. . . Hours for the world! Moments for Christ! The world has the best, and our closest the parings of our time. We give our strength and freshness to the ways of mammon, and our fatigue and languor to the ways of God. Hence it is that we need to be commanded to attend to that very act which it ought to be our greatest happiness, as it is our highest privilege to perform, viz. to meet with God.”
2. Sometimes, we don’t understand its importance or why it’s essential.
For example, C.S. Lewis, in explaining why he didn’t at first understand why praise is important to prayer, said, “When I first began to draw near to belief in God and even for some time after it had been given to me, I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it. We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence, or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people . . . who gratify that demand. Thus a picture, and once ludicrous and horrible, both of God and of His worshippers, threatened to appear in my mind. . . . But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought into check it. The world rings with praise . . . The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything we value. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.”
3. Sometimes, we misunderstand prayer and see it as the ancients do, as an “acquisitive sacrifice”
“If I do ___ or ask God in ___ way, he’ll give me ___.” As Stormie Omartian put it, though, “Let me make it perfectly clear that the power of [prayer] is not a means of gaining control…so don’t get your hopes up! In fact, it is quite the opposite. It’s laying down all claim to power in and of yourself, and relying on God’s power to transform you [and] your circumstances…”
4. Sometimes, we feel we are too far away from God to confidently approach His throne of grace
That our sin is too great or our lives are too opposed to God’s plan. However, as Charles Spurgeon put it, “If the Lord did not refuse to listen to my voice when I was a guilty sinner and an enemy, how can He disregard my cry now, that I am justified and saved! How is it that He heard the voice of my misery when my heart knew it not, and would not seek relief, if after all He will not hear me now that I am His child, His friend? The streaming wounds of Jesus are the sure guarantee for answered prayer. . . . You misread Calvary, if you think that prayer is useless.”
5. Sometimes prayer can feel boring, routine, or dry; simply a duty to be performed rather than the invitation to vital, vibrant relationship with the Father.
For those of you who feel this way, consider the advice of Demarest and Matthews: “Many people find formulas for prayer helpful, but these methods often turn stale. Prayer is meant to be relational; God wants to hear from who we really are, not who we pretend to be. . . . While ‘mental prayer’ or speaking only in our minds, is a standard way to pray, it often degenerates into self-talk or even ‘holy worry.’ That’s not prayer. Prayer involves addressing God directly and stating clearly what we need and what we think about. That’s why it often helps to pray aloud (even when alone) or to write out our prayers.”
When we grasp the importance of prayer and the gifts God gives us through time in His presence, we can’t help but crave more! Prayer is most important because God cares enough for our hearts that He wants to daily remind us that the cornerstone of our faith is salvation. And communing with God in prayer is recognizing His saving grace and our desperate need of Jesus, time after time. Again, this is why it’s so important to pray with the person you are meeting with. We’ve put together key reasons why praying with the person you are discipling is important, and to help you, we’ve created 7 Ways to Pray with Your Disciple, a helpful infograph to equip you as you begin to implement this key spiritual discipline.
Why pray with your disciple?
1. Helps you understand their grasp of God’s character
For example, if they only pray for other people, they might not see God as a caring Father who wants to be involved in their daily lives. If they only pray for their physical needs or desires, they may not understand God’s greater Kingdom vision and the work He is inviting them into. If they talk non-stop during prayer without any moments of silence, they may not understand that God desires prayer to be a conversation, and that they can practice quietly listening for how God would like to lead them.
2. Provides them with a model of how to pray
Many times, people have never been taught how to sustain a longer conversation with God. And the best way to learn is simply to do! When you pray out loud, you are modeling for them your desire to be in a conversation with God, and your actual words can provide an example for them, too!
3. The people in the Bible did it
Moses, Miriam, Deborah, David, Elijah, Daniel, Esther, Anna, Peter, John, Paul, and JESUS – all of these people prayed aloud for the benefit of their listeners. No, not all of these examples are one-on-one discipleship relationships, but the point is, there is a Biblical precedent for praying aloud with other believers for their edification and for God’s glory.
4. Vulnerability is more easily reached when together you humbly approach the throne of God.
We can’t really explain this, except to say we’ve experienced it! Something special happens when we come together in the Name of Jesus – he knits our hearts together and allows us to experience what it means to be unified as part of His body. It’s a wonderful thing!
5. Provides your heart with accountability
Sadly, it’s pretty easy to fake spiritual health, especially if you are meeting with someone younger than you. It’s easy to talk through what they’re struggling with while ignoring the anger you are secretly harboring at your spouse or a neighbor. But when you enter into prayer, it’s very hard to fake that spiritual health – the Spirit simply won’t allow it for your good! This also fosters vulnerability.
6. It invites the Holy Spirit into your time and into your words
No one is perfect, and the wisdom or advice we offer the person we are meeting with will (almost) never be 100% the best possible thing to say. When we take time to pray, we make room for the Spirit to be the true leader of the conversation.We give Him time and space to move our hearts so we are not the ultimate authority – He is; and so the person we are meeting with doesn’t learn to rely on us – they learn to rely on HIM.
7. Because God is worth your time
He’s worth your time, your thoughts, your praise, your contemplation, the best of your very self – don’t you think?
“But the duty exists for the delight. When we carry out our ‘religious duties,’ we are like people digging channels in a waterless land, in order that when at last the water comes, it may find them ready. I mean, for the most part. There are happy moments, even now, when a trickle creeps along the dry beds.”
— C.S. Lewis
Are you still struggling with the concept of prayer?
We encourage you to take time to read, study, and meditate on these passages and examples. Not sure how? Check out our S.P.E.C.K. Bible study tool!
- Exodus 33:7-23
- Judges 5
- 1 Chronicles 29:10-20; 2 Chronicles 20:5-12
- Nehemiah 1:4-11
- Psalm 25, 63, 108, 130
- Isaiah 64:1-9
- Daniel 2:17-23
- Matthew 6:1-15
- Mark 11:22-25
- Luke 2:36-38; 6:12-13
- John 17
- Acts 4:23-31; 13:1-3
- Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21
- Philippians 1:9-11; 4:4-7
- Colossians 1:9-14
After you’ve spent time in the Word exploring prayer, we also recommend these books if you want to grow and deepen your prayer life:
- Praying From God’s Heart by Lee Brase
- 31 Days of Prayer by Ruth and Warren Myers
- 12 Sermons on Prayer by Charles Spurgeon
- Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis
- Meditation by Jim Downing
- Becoming a Woman of Prayer by Cynthia Heald (not just for women!)
- The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
- Speak, Lord by Vic Black
- Prayer by Timothy Keller
- Praying by J.I. Packer
The Apprentice Approach is about helping every-day people master the art of disciplemaking and grew out of the fact that…. Many Christians struggle with making disciples, they feel busy, overwhelmed and not qualified. We understand this struggle which is why we created a Bible based framework so any believer can master the art of disciplemaking! One of our outcomes is seeing the folks we engage with walk away saying, “I can do that!”