Advice on Prayer

Here are a few suggestions Martin Luther makes on prayer to a friend. They come from the wonderful book Luther’s Prayers. 

1.      Let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last business at night.
2.      Be careful not to allow things which seem more important to crowd out prayer.
3.      Use biblical tools to jump start your praying.  Luther would use the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed and the Psalms as a way to help him when he felt cold and joyless about his praying. It is very difficult to come to prayer and not have anything to direct your thoughts.  Let God’s Word guide your prayers and give it some direction. Luther then goes on to describe how he prayed through these different portions of God’s Word.
a.       He would first look at a particular portion of God’s Word and ask what it was teaching him.
b.      Then he would give God thanks based upon that passage.
c.       Then he would confess his sin based upon that passage.
d.      Then he would pray that God would help him to obey what that passage required.

For example he does this with the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” First, this passage teaches us to trust in God alone and not in anything or anyone else. Second, it teaches us to give thanks for God’s fatherly kindness. Third, it leads us to confess that we are ungrateful for all of God’s kindnesses and we too easily worship idols. Finally, Luther ends with a prayer asking God to help him learn, understand, and live by God’s commandments.
4.      Prayer requires discipline of mind.  Luther said it is the hardest work. Most of us do not reap the blessing of prayer because we are not willing to put the time and energy into that God requires. 

David McIntyre in his book The Hidden Life ofPrayer says that prayer usually requires the following:
1.      A Quiet Place
2.      A Quiet Hour
3.      A Quiet Heart