The Puritan View of Prayer: Taking Hold of God

Joel Beeke, minister and president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, explains why prayer should be an absolutely indispensable part of the Christian’s life and ministry drawing from lessons he learned studying the Puritans.

This message on prayer was given at a conference in 2015 and is addressed to pastors but very applicable to any Christian. Dr. Beeke starts with the following verses from Isaiah which touch on prayerlessness:

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.

– Isaiah 64:6-7

Dr. Beeke than argues that the main difference between the ministry success of the Puritans and what we see today is our comparably weak prayer. Prayer is typically something we “tack on to the end of our life like an appendix to a book” rather than making it an indispensable part of life.

The core of the sermon is 12 practical points on nurturing a vibrant prayer life (which follows about a 15 minute introduction).

Highlights of the Sermon:

  • John Bunyan’s definition of prayer
  • Prayer empowers preaching, crushes Satanic power, and warms the soul
  • A list of sins that are behind a lack of prayer
  • 6 areas to change yourself and 6 ways to take hold of God in prayer
  • 5 reasons prayer is so valuable including the chief one which is knowing God (and how this corresponds to unanswered prayer)
  • Striving for absolute sincerity in prayer
  • An illustration that explains the meaning of “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Connecting common, every day activities with things to meditate on and pray for
  • 2 way communication with God – Listening to God through His Word and then speaking back to Him in prayer
  • Using God’s promises in your prayer life
  • Insight in how the Trinity shapes and enables our prayer life
  • Making the glory of God the ultimate focus of all requests
  • The astounding prayer life of Dr. Beeke’s mother and how it benefited her soul
  • Persist in prayer and constantly pray for God’s help regardless of momentary failure

Questions for Study

These questions are based on the information from this message and follow the order of the talk. Some of the questions may challenge you to think beyond what you hear and take what you learn a step further through application or bringing in knowledge you might already have.

  1. Why do you think Christians don’t pray enough? How would you assess your own prayer life?
  2. How did the Puritans view prayer? How did they define it in the Westminster Confession? Do you think this is a helpful definition?
  3. What are some sins that keep people from praying? What sins do you think keep you from praying? What can you do to begin to overcome these sins?
  4. What are the 12 points that Dr. Beeke provides to take hold of God in prayer? (6 ways to take hold of yourself and 6 ways to take hold of God)
  5. Which of these 12 points do you think would help you the most right now improve your prayer life?
  6. Why should we value prayer even if we don’t see answers?
  7. Why should knowing that God values sincerity in our prayers be an encouragement?
  8. How can common items and occurrences in our day be fuel for prayer and help to pray continually?
  9. How can we use the Bible as a guide for prayer?
Jim Rosenquist

Jim Rosenquist

Jim is Founder, Editor, and Author at 4Elect. He holds a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. Jim rejoices that God chooses insignificant people to bring glory to Himself.

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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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