Training for Godliness: Prayer
Believers are meant to grow.
Like flowers in the field, believers require certain items to help them grow. Flowers need water, sunlight, and rich soil in order to develop and grow. We have already examined one of the means by which believers grow (or, train for godliness), and that is the Word of God. The Word provides the soil, if you will, for the believer’s nutrients.
God, in His goodness, provides an additional means for growth through the form of prayer. The London Baptist Confession of Faith states, “Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one part of natural worship, is by God required of all men.” Prayer, while required, is also a wonderful tool in the box of our spiritual growth.
Don Whitney cites two verses of Scripture that demonstrate this: Colossians 4:2 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Pray without ceasing.
When we consider our purpose, to grow in godliness, we must remember how insufficient we are to the task. We are desperate for God’s help. As Whitney remarks, “When there is little awareness of real need there is little real prayer.” Perhaps the reason we fail to engage in this wonderful privilege is because we are too self-sufficient.
Unfortunately, we are like a child who thinks they can do a certain task on their own, but our Heavenly Father knows how utterly incapable we truly are. He reminds us how necessary He is, through the various trials and difficulties we face, through our shortcomings, and through our defeats. Each circumstance will be a reminder, though painful at times, that we are children that need our Father’s help. Our purpose is not to berate one another. Our purpose, as Paul describes it, is to “train [our]selves for godliness.” The question is, “How do we train ourselves in prayer?”
Thankfully, our gracious Father has provided many tools that help us grow. First, we learn to pray through the Scriptures. They are perhaps one of the most amazing tools offered to us by our Father. Continuing their statement on prayer, the writers of the London Confession state, “But that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of the Spirit, according to His will; with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and when with others, in a known tongue.” As proof, the authors of the Confession provide several references to Scripture (John 14:13-14, Romans 8:26, 1 John 5:14, and 1 Corinthians 14:16 and 17. God’s Word informed their Confession on prayer, and it should ours as well. Jesus tells his disciples to pray like this, and then offers the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
This offers us a tremendous prayer. We could also add to the prayer more specific requests. For our daily bread, we could request energy to continue to work, a place at work, and even the blessings of using our earnings wisely. This prayer is tremendous, and we need to train ourselves for godliness through prayer.
Don Whiney offers several more suggestions on how to learn to pray: “by praying,” “by meditating on Scripture,” “by praying with others,” and “by reading about prayer.” This provides a good routine (see previous post) for us to engage in prayer for the purpose of godliness.
It would be wise of us to heed the words of John R. Rice,
“Prayerlessness is a horrible sin. For the lost sinner it is a part of his wicked rejection of Christ. For the child of God it is identical with backsliding. Prayerlessness is another name for unbelief.”
 LBCF 21:3.
 Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 69.
 1 Timothy 4:7, ESV.
 LBCF 21:3.
 Matthew 6:9-13, ESV.
 Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 70-77.
 John R. Rice, Prayer: Asking and Receiving (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1970), 267.