What is prayer?

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Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God in praise, petition, confession of sin, and thanksgiving.

Psalm 62:8

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

Commentary

As the enemies of your soul are inveterate, subtle, and powerful, and your spiritual frames inconstant, it is highly necessary you should live under a continual remembrance of those awakening considerations. What more advisable, what so necessary for you, as to walk circumspectly; to watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation? A sense of your own weakness and insufficiency, should ever abide on your mind and appear in your conduct. As the corruption of nature is an enemy that is always near you, and always in you, while on earth; and as it is very strongly disposed to second every temptation from without; you should "keep your heart with all diligence." Watch, diligently watch, over all its imaginations, motions, and tendencies. Consider whence they arise and to what they incline, before you execute any of the purposes formed in it…. This consideration should cause every child of God to bend the suppliant knee, with the utmost frequency, humility, and fervour: to live, as it were, at the throne of grace; nor depart thence till far from the reach of danger. Certain it is, that the more we see of the strength of our adversaries and of the danger we are in from them, the more shall we exercise ourselves in fervent prayer.—Can you, O Christian, be cool and indifferent, be dull and careless, when the world, the flesh, and the devil are your implacable and unwearied opposers?

Abraham Booth (1734–1806). An English Baptist minister, Booth served as pastor of Prescot Street Church in Whitechapel, London for 35 years as well as founding what is now Regents Park College for ministerial training in Oxford. He is most known for his work The Reign of Grace (from which this quote is taken).

From “The Reign of Grace” in Booth's Select Works (London: Chidley, 1839), 187–188.

Further Reading

“Prayer” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

Prayer

Let us pray daily, "Lord, increase my faith." Let us not doubt, then, that when God says a thing, that thing will be fulfilled.

John Charles Ryle (1816–1900). The first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Ryle’s appointment was at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. As well as being a writer and pastor, Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played cricket for Oxford University. He also was responsible for the building of over forty churches.

From Luke by J. C. Ryle, series editor Alister E. McGrath (Wheaton: Crossway, 1997), 24.