Toward a Deeper Prayer Life

A great article from Casey Lewis over at For The Church, on prayer:

We all know we should pray regularly, but we often don’t. There are numerous reasons for why we don't pray on a regular basis.
Life gets busy — We haven’t set aside the time, and a prayerless morning turns into a prayerless week.
We think God doesn’t have the time — Our needs seem minor next to the atrocities we read about in the paper — famine, ebola, and genocide.
We believe we must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps — Our problem is ours, not God’s.
Maybe you find yourself in the list above. If you do, I can assure you, God does have time for you, so you should make time for Him. Your needs, however small, are important to God. As well as trying to handle everything on your own is not wise, nor what God wants.
Maybe you don’t find yourself in the above list. Maybe the reason you don’t pray is because you don’t know what to pray. If that’s you, let me point you to the Psalms. There you will find a wealth of content to guide you in prayer. 
Lately, I have been meditating on the Psalms, even praying them at times. Doing so has added a lot of depth to my prayer life. As I was meditating on Psalm 25, I wrote down 11 things to pray for a deeper prayer life that I want to share with you.
11 Things to Pray
  1. Pray God would help you trust Him more (1-3)
  2. Pray for greater knowledge of God (4-5)
  3. Pray a prayer of repentance (6-7)
  4. Pray God would instruct and lead you (8-10)
  5. Praise God for saving you (11)
  6. Pray God’s name would be magnified (11)
  7. Pray you would fear the Lord (12-15)
  8. Pray your emotions and ask God to help you in your time of need (16-18)
  9. Pray you would respond to your enemies in a gospel-centered way (19-20)
  10. Pray for integrity and uprightness in your dealings with others (21)
  11. Pray for God’s final and complete redemption (22)

Jesus and Zacchaeus

The story of Zaccheaus is one of the most familiar Bible stories of all time. That familiarity may cause you to miss something about it (and the story of Bartimaeus right before it, Luke 18:35-43). Namely, it is the story of how one man, bound for an eternity in hell apart from God, finds salvation and everlasting joy in the beautiful one, Jesus Christ.

It will be my delight to preach this story come Sunday. As I prepare, I was stopped cold by this quote from one of my favorite dead guys, J.C. Ryle, commenting on the story:

These verses describe the conversion of a soul. (!)
Like the stories of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, the story of Zacchaeus should be frequently studied by Christians. The Lord Jesus never changes. What he did for this man, he is able and willing to do for anyone else.

Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. 
5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” 
6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. 
8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” 
9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” 

(Luke 19:1-10, New Living Translation)

For A Revived Church That Astonishes The World

Ray Ortlund writes, unpacking Isaiah 62:6-7, that we are to be the pray-ers that give God no rest until a revived church astonishes the world. It is my hope that Ray’s and Isaiah’s words will inspire you to pray for God to do just that through the gathering of God’s people that you come together with tonight, or tomorrow morning.

From Isaiah:

    6     On your walls, O Jerusalem, 
I have set watchmen; 
        all the day and all the night 
they shall never be silent. 
        You who put the Lord in remembrance, 
take no rest, 
    7     and give him no rest 
until he establishes Jerusalem 
and makes it a praise in the earth.   (ESV)

From Pastor Ortlund:

We are the “watchmen,” like sentries on the city wall, keeping our eyes peeled for what God is doing in the world today. We encourage one another about these momentous events. We also speak to God. In fact, with language I wouldn’t have dared to use, our prayers are to give God no rest until a revived church astonishes the world.

Jonathan Edwards wrote a famous appeal to the Christians of his day to unite in prayer for revival. At the end of the appeal he wrote this:

It is very apparent from the Word of God that he often tries the faith and patience of his people, when they are crying to him for some great and important mercy, by withholding the mercy sought for a season; and not only so, but at first he may cause an increase of dark appearances. And yet he, without fail, at last prospers those who continue urgently in prayer with all perseverance and “will not let him go except he blesses.”

Otto Kristian Hallesby was a Norwegian theologian who resisted the Nazis during World War II and suffered for it in a concentration camp. He understood what it means to pray all the way through until God answers. He said that prayer is like mining. Prayer is like boring holes deep into the rock of human hearts. It’s work. It tries our patience. We can’t see results. But in God’s time, he places dynamite and lights the fuse, and the rocks crumble. God has called us to give him no rest until he makes a revived church the praise of the earth.

God, as it were, overcome by prayer.

Jacob wrestled with God, and God said to him, “You have striven with God and men, and have prevailed” (Genesis 32:28). Jesus compared prayer to a man pounding on his neighbor’s door late at night until, “because of his impudence,” the neighbor gets up and helps him (Luke 11:8). The Apostle James says that the prayer of a righteous person “has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). And God has positioned you and me in this generation to pray down his power upon the ministry of the [good news of the Kingdom of God] and not quit until the whole world is praising God.

Yes and very amen, in Jesus name.