Skip to content ↓

It’s Okay To Just Pray

It’s Okay To Just Pray

I have yet to meet the Christian who has mastered prayer. In fact, I have yet to meet the Christian who feels like much more than a beginner in the school of prayer. Though I know many who pray, I know few who are convinced they really understand prayer. In a strange way, I find it heartening to learn that even one of my most trusted and respected theologians has declined to write a book on the subject and wondered, “Who can write or speak at any length easily on the mystery of prayer?”

I am thankful that we do not need to understand prayer in order to pray. At least, we do not need to exhaustively understand prayer in order to pray. We do not need to have an answer to every question or a resolution to every mystery. The biblical command is not to figure out prayer or iron out every dilemma of prayer, but simply to pray.

I take that to mean that we should not allow our lack of understanding to lead to a lack of prayer. We should not allow our confusion to excuse hesitation. Instead, we should press on in obedience and faith—obedience to God’s clear command and faith that prayers are meaningful to God. We should press on in earnest prayer, in confident prayer, in constant prayer, and in all kinds of prayer, trusting that God loves to hear them and act upon them.

You can learn about prayer in a sermon, but it’s in a prayer meeting that you really learn to pray.

It has been my experience that the path to a deepening understanding of prayer does not lead through libraries as much as through closets, and not through reading as much as simply through praying. You can learn about prayer in a sermon, but it’s in a prayer meeting that you really learn to pray. Books and sermons have their value, of course, in teaching us to pray. God’s book has the greatest value of all. But we learn the most about prayer as we actually pray. Prayer is its own guide, its own instructor. Or, perhaps better said, the Spirit teaches us not so much through our questioning or searching but through our praying. He guides us and instructs us as we pray.

And so the task of the Christian is not first to understand prayer, though may be a very good thing, and not first to solve prayer, which I suspect is an impossible thing. Rather, the Christian is to pray, knowing that part of the beauty of prayer is that even if we aren’t confident in how prayer works, we can have confidence in the one who tells us to pray. Even if we haven’t resolved the dilemmas and solved the mysteries, we can trust the one who issues the command and who insists that he hears and responds to our prayers. Our task, our calling, and our joyful duty is to pray.


  • Lets Hear It For the Second Parents

    Let’s Hear It For the Second Parents

    While today we tend to associate step-parents with divorce, in previous centuries they were almost exclusively associated with death and with either widow- or widowerhood. In an era in which lifespans were shorter and, therefore, a greater number of parents died while their children were still young, there was a distinct and honored role for…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 17)

    A La Carte: Honor good fathers and bad fathers alike? / Don’t give up, dad / How I respond to pride month / 5 myths about the pro-life movement / A seminar on biblical counseling / How do I know if I’m one of the elect? / Kindle deals / and more.

  • The Glorious End without the Difficult Means

    The Glorious End without the Difficult Means

    Just as Olympic athletes cannot realistically expect to win a gold medal unless they strictly discipline themselves toward victory, Christians cannot hope to prevail in the Christian life unless they take a serious, disciplined approach to it. Yet lurking in the background is always the temptation to hope that we can have the result of…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (June 15)

    A La Carte: Learn to rest in God’s justice / 3 reasons why your small group is not a church / How can I be a godly father? / Gender in the void / Are images of Christ OK? / The getting of wisdom / and more.

  • Making Good Return

    Making Good Return

    I don’t think I am overstating the matter when I say that this has the potential to be one of the most important books you will read. It’s a book that may shape years of your life and transform the way you carry out one of the key roles God assigns to you…

  • A La Carte Friday 2

    A La Carte (June 14)

    A La Carte: 3 steps to find your voice / 7 things good dads say / One day leads to another / Let’s stop hyper-spiritualizing counseling / Enjoying the many flavors of the Word / What I wish you understood about the ethnic-specific church / and more.