Personal Private Prayer
It seems today, however, that many people neglect this vital discipline of private prayer! Notice that Christ did not say ‘if’ you pray, but ‘when’ you pray, so as his children who love to keep his commandments, let us ‘pray without ceasing!’ The famous Puritan, Thomas Brooks, said, ‘The power of religion and godliness lives, thrives, or dies, as closet prayer lives, thrives or dies.’
As Christians, it is our duty to spend time in private prayer. Remember why Jesus told the parable of the widow who kept going to the Judge because of her adversary – ‘that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.’(Luke 18:1). Private prayer distinguishes us from hypocrites. If the Pharisees love to pray on the street corner, shouldn’t we love to pray in secret?
Consider the prayers of the saints in the Bible: Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, and so on. They could have brought out all sorts of excuses against praying, yet they continued to pray in faith and to wrestle with the Lord in private even when they were a prime minister, a king, or under a death threat! There is nothing more natural than to talk to a person who is with you and Christ said ‘I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’
And private prayer is not only a duty, but a joy! It should always be a joyful thing for a Christian to do his duty to God (Ps 19:11), but there are special blessings to be gained by prayer, because we have a God who hears prayer! (Matt 6:6).
‘How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?’ (Matt 7:11).
‘This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.’ (Ps 34:6).
‘O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!...Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.’ (Ps 116:4,7).
There are countless other blessings to be obtained by prayer. Most of all, we are communing with the Living God, which, like no other thing, should humble us, show us our sin and point us to the remedy!
Ultimately, our motive for praying is that Christ may be glorified. Christ delights in hearing his beloved people speak to him in secret: ‘Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet.’ (Song of Solomon 2:14). Brooks says again ‘O sirs! If your hearts were more filled with love for Christ...you would quickly know what secret communion with Christ means.’
With these things in mind, let us ‘Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation!’
By Philip Mackereth
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