Clarifying the Gospel and Fueling Prayer: Two Essential Ingredients
The resurrection is the most important thing to behold in God’s word to fuel our desire to pray. But really, we need all of God’s word. We also need God’s people. Consider how both God’s word and God’s people are crucial as we try to train our hearts to desire prayer.
1. God’s Word
When God created the world, he did so with words (Genesis 1). Unlike us, there is no distance between God’s words and his actions. His words are his actions—which means they are absolutely trustworthy. They always accomplish what they say they will.
God accomplishes his will by his word, but he also communes with us by his word. After God created the world with commands, he made Adam out of the dust of the earth and then spoke to Adam—he started a conversation with him. God created us to do far more than just comply with his commands. He created us for conversation. God created us in his image so that we might know him, love him, and fellowship with him.
God has spoken to us about himself in the Bible, and he continues to speak to us through his word (Deut. 29:29; John 5:39; 1 Tim. 3:16). In the Bible, God gives us more than just rules to live by; he paints a picture of himself (chiefly in the person and work of Jesus Christ) to foster a relationship with us. We don’t have to imagine what God likes or what God is like. We can investigate what he already said. He has plainly spoken to us in his word.
If God reveals himself so that we might know him, then one primary way to fuel prayer is by immersing ourselves in the Bible. As we reflect on the character of God, the work of Christ, and the promises of the gospel, God will increase our desire to know him more and thus pursue him more through prayer.
In fact, God’s word gives us model prayers we can repeat back to God when our own words and desires fail. The Psalms, for instance, give us templates for when we feel frustrated and forgotten (Psalm 3), forsaken (Psalm 22), overwhelmed with gratitude (Psalms 30; 65; 67), repentant (Psalm 51), or in need of a reminder of God’s goodness and mercy (Psalms 23; 32; 57).
God accomplishes his will by his word, but he also communes with us by his word.
As we eavesdrop on the prayers of Scripture and then insert ourselves into them, these scriptures guide our prayers. We don’t need to initiate prayer as much as we need to imitate the prayers God has already provided for us. Prayer isn’t about blazing new trails; it’s about walking down worn ones.
2. God’s People
God hasn’t only created us for conversation with him. He also wants us in conversation with each other. It’s at this point that many of our attempts to repair our prayer life fall short. We live as if the only thing that matters is our individual relationship with God. We live as if it’s possible to have a vibrant relationship with God that doesn’t involve anyone else. But that’s not possible.
Think with me about the creation story. In Genesis 1, God describes his creation as “good” seven times. In Genesis 2, however, even before sin entered the world, he says something is “not good”: man was alone. Before man’s relationship with God was threatened by sin, it was threatened by isolation. We were not meant to commune with our Creator alone.
God intended for us to know him and to fulfill our creation work not just through his word but through our relationship with his other children. We will know God more fully as we see him work in the lives of other sons and daughters of God.
How then can we build relationships with other saints?
Thankfully, God has designed a special place where his people gather around his word so they can grow in their love for him and one another. That place is the local church.
This article is adapted from What If I Don’t Desire to Pray? by John Onwuchekwa.
We can learn what and how to pray to God from his very word—even from the example of his own Son.
Like all healthy and satisfying relationships, our relationship with God needs time and energy.
What is prayer and when and how should we do it? Explore answers to some common questions from To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism.
Theology helps us uncover what we know about God and turn it into prayer and praise to God.