Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

4 Jul 2012

Is Prayer a Skill Worth Seeking?


The title may be a question you have not considered before. With all of our good focus on learning life skills—whether they be vocational, athletic, musical, or academic-—we sometimes fail to cultivate some of the skills which will profit us most in life and in the ministry. Prayer is one of those skills.

I was greatly helped a number of years ago by reading A Guide to Prayer by Isaac Watts. In this small book, Watts records a series of talks to young men that he gave, encouraging them to work to develop a regular means of improving both their public and private prayer life. He writes, “a regular scheme of prayer as a Christian exercise or a piece of holy skill, has been much neglected” (1).

He argues for the need for Christians, especially men in ministry, to devote themselves to working hard at improving their prayer life. He says that prayer is “a piece of Christian skill to be attained in a rational way by the use of proper means and the blessing of the Holy Spirit” (167).

Watts goes on to write:

My business here is to address myself to those who have some sense of their obligation to prayer…but through coldness and indifference in things of religion take no pains to acquire the gift, or content themselves with so slight and imperfect a degree of it that they or others are not much the better. It is this sort of Christian that I wish to stir up and awaken to diligence in seeking so valuable an attainment (168).

And, in case we already have too much to study, work at, and give attention to, he has poignant remarks like the following:

How many years of our short life are spent to learn the Greek, Latin and French tongues, that we may communicate among the living nations or understand the writings of the dead? Shall not the language in which we converse with heaven and the living God be through equal pains? (171).

Let me encourage you, as I remind myself, that talking to God is a great privilege and a powerful means to accomplishing our ministry of the Word. Prayer is a skill worth seeking!