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Prayer

Helpful Sermons and Articles on Prayer and How to Pray

"Though God perfectly knows all our wants and has determined beforehand what mercies to grant, yet he has also determined to make us sensible of our need of mercy and humbly to ask for it before he bestows it upon us." Joel Baker [1]

What is the nature of prayer? How should you pray? How often should you pray? When? Where? Is there a special form or order to be observed when offering your prayer? Indeed, there are many such questions about prayer. We have posted a number of articles and sermons here to help answer some of these questions. You will note, however, that some of them seem to take opposite approaches and give opposite advice about how to pray. That should not limit their usefulness. I doubt that any of these authors would claim to offer the final, definitive word on prayer. No description of prayer is fully comprehensive and complete. Prayer is broader, more versatile, and more variable than any of these studies might suggest. There are different aspects to prayer and different types of prayer. Moreover, we all have different personalities, and some types of prayer patterns are better suited to certain types of personalities. Spurgeon in his sermon, "Ejaculatory Prayer," points this out. Therefore, it is hoped that as you read through these studies on prayer, you will find some helpful suggestions and encouragement for your own prayer life.

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Samuel Bentley

"Hindrances to Prayer"

This entry is Chapter 3 from Samuel Bentley's Sermons on Prayer (London: William Skeffington, 1871). Several hindrances to effective prayer, which we all experience, are considered along with the best ways of overcoming them.

"Helps to Prayer"
(Part 1)

In chapter 4 from Sermons on Prayer the reader will find discussed four practical helps that will be most encouraging.

"Helps to Prayer"
(Part 2)

Chapter 5 from Sermons on Prayer gives the reader a helpful format when coming to the Throne of Grace. This order in addressing the Father has been used by many great men of the faith.

Charles H. Spurgeon

"Order and Argument in Prayer"
(Part 1)
Job 23:3, 4

This entry is the first part of Chapter 3 from Spurgeon's 12 Sermons on Prayer (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1971 reprint). Who does not love Spurgeon, with all his colorful descriptions and oratory? You will find this sermon most helpful in how to bring before the Father all your needs.

"Order and Argument in Prayer"
(Part 2)
Job 23:3, 4

Here is the last portion of Spurgeon's sermon. What kind of arguments are we to use when addressing God in prayer? Spurgeon gives us no less than six! This sermon will give us all more zeal for setting aside a time for prayer.

"Order and Argument"
Job 23:3, 4

The sermon, "Order and Argument," given above in two parts, is the exact text from Spurgeon's sermon. The version here is condensed and lightly edited for clarity by Carol Morgan.

"Ejaculatory Prayer"
Nehemiah 2:4

This is one of the best studies I've read on prayer, perhaps because I have been praying this way for a number of years and was much surprised and encouraged to learn that this type of prayer had a name and that a minister as well-respected as Charles Spurgeon highly recommended applying this method. "Ejaculatory prayers" are short prayers made to the Lord many times during the day and usually on immediately relevant subjects, as was the case for the prayer that Nehemiah made before answering the king's question. The nature, importance, and place of ejaculatory prayers are discussed at some length by Spurgeon in this sermon. Such prayers, of course, need not be the only type of prayer you make during the day, but they go a long way to fulfilling the command to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). (KM)

David H. Roper

"Praying and Caring"

This entry is from David H. Roper's book, The Law That Sets You Free: Book of James (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1977). What is prayer? How does it change us? How do we explain that puzzling passage in James, "Is anyone among you sick? . . . the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick. . ." This entry by Roper is enlightening.

John Calvin

"The Rules of Right Prayer"

A study on the nature of prayer from one of the greatest theologians of the Protestant Reformation in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can also check out our Institutes page.

Henry Alford

Plain Village Sermons on the Lord's Prayer
Sermon I
(Original)

This and the following sermons are from Henry Alford, Plain Village Sermons on the Lord's Prayer and Beatitudes (London: J. G. F. & J. Rivington, 1846). In this first chapter Alford addresses the subject of why we are duty-bound to engage in prayer. Most of us will come to know just how shamefully we have neglected this great privilege.

Plain Village Sermons on the Lord's Prayer
Sermon I
(Modified)

The above version of Sermon I is the exact text from Alford's sermon. The version here has modernized spelling and punctuation and is lightly edited for clarity by Carol Morgan.

Plain Village Sermons on the Lord's Prayer
Sermon II
(Original)

This sermon is a must-read for everyone. I absolutely loved it. Why is it that we are so woefully deficient in our prayer life? Jesus has said, "Ask, and it shall be given to you," and yet far too many of us approach the throne of grace with a mere pittance of hope that we will receive an answer. This sermon of Alford's will restore your zeal for prayer! (CM)

Plain Village Sermons on the Lord's Prayer
Sermon II
(Modified)

The above version of Sermon II is the exact text from Alford's sermon. The version here has modernized spelling and punctuation and is lightly edited for clarity by Carol Morgan.

Walter J. Chantry

"Prayer"

Here is chapter 7, "Prayer," from Pastor Walter J. Chantry, The Shadow of the Cross: Studies in Self-Denial (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1981). As expected from the title of this book, Chantry discusses the fact that effective and powerful prayer sometimes requires several types of self-denial. For example, making time for prayer might require shortening one's leisure or recreational time. Although Chantry had pastors primarily in mind as his target audience, his insights can be of great benefit to all Christians.

Charles Hodge

"Prayer"

This excerpt on prayer is taken from Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology. Hodge, a professor at the old Princeton Theological Seminary, was one of America's greatest theologians. In this excerpt, Hodge discusses, among other topics, the object of prayer, the requisites for acceptable prayer, and the different kinds of prayer. You can also check out our Charles Hodge page.

A. A. Hodge

"Prayer and the Prayer-Cure"

A. A. Hodge succeeded his father, Charles Hodge, as principal of Princeton Theological Seminary. All who wish a more fruitful and faithful "prayer time" will find this lecture most instructive and encouraging. You can also check out our A. A. Hodge page.

John Lillie

"Pray Without Ceasing"

Lillie gives us some strong encouragement to "pray without ceasing," most notably in the example of Jesus himself. He writes, "Surely, if there ever lived a man on earth who could afford to dispense with prayer, it was the Man in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." This article will convict us all of our woeful neglect of this great privilege.

David Merrill

"Secret Prayer"

Why is it that so many of us fail to set aside a time for private prayer? We want to pray, but when we actually get right down to it we find it rather lifeless, a hard chore that brings no real satisfaction. This sermon by David Merrill has good insight and will provide real help. It is sermon IV from Sermons by the Late Rev. David Merrill (1855). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been modernized and long paragraphs have been divided.

William Paley

"Prayer in Imitation of Christ"

Here is a short, very practical sermon that gives five ways to imitate Christ in our own personal prayers. It is sermon VIII from Sermons on Several Subjects by Rev. William Paley (1805). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been modernized and long paragraphs have been divided.

Neil McKinnon

"The Unjust Judge"

We shall all do well to emulate the widow in the parble of "The Unjust Judge." She gained the victory, when way too often we do not. How often are our "prayers" no more than little snippets thrown out on a whim with no serious thought; or how often do they consist of mere wishful thinking with no assurance of being heard and answered by a God who is all-powerful. Encouragement to persevere in prayer will be found in this short sermon by Neil McKinnon.

This is Sermon XIX of Part I of Dugald Currie, Sermons by the Late Rev. Neil McKinnon (Toronto: James Bain & Son, 1889). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been modernized.

Thomas Chalmers

"A Prayer"

In 1810 Dr. Chalmers was confined to his room with an illness that brought him to the brink of the grave, and this brought death and eternity very near to his thoughts. This is a prayer of his, not a sermon. It should be our prayer too.

This prayer by Dr. Chalmers is the preface to Sermon VIII of Sermons by the Late Thomas Chalmers, D.D. LL.D., vol. VI of Posthumous Works of the Rev. Thomas Chalmers, D.D., LL.D, ed. William Hanna (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1849). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been modernized.

George Jehoshaphat Mountain

"Prayer"

This helpful excerpt deals with the discouragement that arises when we seem to pray in vain. Are we simply asking amiss, as James writes?

This excerpt is from Sermon XIII, "Prayer" by George Jehoshaphat Mountain, Sermons (London: Bell and Daldy, 1865). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been modernized and long paragraphs have been divided.

James H. McConkey

"The Certainty of Prayer"

"Everyone that asks receives." Receives what? Exactly what he asked for? In this sermon McConkey explains how we all receive something.

This is Chapter II, "The Certainty of Prayer," in James H. McConkey, Prayer, 3rd ed. (Harrisburg, PA: Fred. Kelker, 1906). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation and KJV-era pronouns and verbs forms have been modernized and long paragraphs have been divided.

"Prayer and Healing"

In this sermon the reader will find McConkey explaining that curious verse of James, "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick".

This is Chapter VII, "Prayer and Healing," in James H. McConkey, Prayer, 3rd ed. (Harrisburg, PA: Fred. Kelker, 1906). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation and KJV-era pronouns and verbs forms have been modernized and long paragraphs have been divided.

John Girardeau

"The Nature of Prayer"

This sermon on prayer is the first of five delivered late in 1865 in Zion Presbyterian Church, Glebe street, Charleston. A note by Dr. Girardeau says: "Daily prayer was offered by crowds of worshippers for the success of the Confederate struggle. In consequence of its disastrous result, many of God's people were, by Satanic influence, tempted to slack their confidence in prayer. These sermons were a humble attempt to help them under this trial."

"The Nature of Prayer" in Sermons by John L. Girardeau, ed. Rev. George A. Blackburn (Columbia, SC: The State Company, 1907). Note: Punctuation has been modernized.

B. W. Maturin

"On Prayer"

This sermon by Father Maturin is most helpful: "It is not then contrary to our idea of the perfection of God's character that He can be moved to grant us our requests. It is even according to all our analogy from human perfection that He is moved especially by the fact that man trusts Him enough to appeal to Him, and therefore, because we so believe we say, 'O Thou that hearest the prayer, to Thee shall all flesh come.'"

"On Prayer" in B. W. Maturin, Sermons and Sermon Notes, ed. Wilfred Ward (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1917). Note: The sermon has been condensed; the text has not been modified, except numerous bracketed comments were added for clarity, which necessitated some change in punctuation; long paragraphs have been divided.

Joseph Samuel C. F. Frey

"The Intercession of the Messiah"

Who of us would not admit that praying is too often a duty and burden? We approach God's throne never truly believing that he will hear, much less answer. Joseph Frey reminds us that "Christ's intercession is our greatest encouragement to come to a throne of grace." Getting a firm grasp on Christ's intercession for believers will bring new energy and faith to prayer.

Letter VII, "The Intercession of the Messiah," in Joseph Samuel C. F. Frey, Joseph and Benjamin: A Series of Letters on the Controversy between Jews and Christians: Comprising the Most Important Doctrines of the Christian Religion, 7th ed. (New York: Daniel Fanshaw,1840). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been modernized and long paragraphs have been divided.

George Adam Smith

"Our Lord's Example in Prayer"

Dr. Smith teaches us the importance of recognizing that our time of prayer is not simply a prelude before going into battle, but it is of itself the battlefield. This is a most helpful sermon.

Sermon IV, "Our Lord's Example in Prayer," in The Forgiveness of Sins and Other Sermons (New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1904). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been modernized and long paragraphs have been divided.

Walter C. Smith

"The Law Kept by Sincerity"

This sermon by Rev. Walter Smith is an exposition of Matthew 6:5-9, that portion of the Sermon on the Mount instructing us not to pray like the Pharisees. It will be enlightening reading, because that it exactly how we too often do pray!

Sermon XI, "The Law Kept by Sincerity," in The Sermon on the Mount (Edinburgh: Edmonston & Douglas, 1867). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation and spelling has been modernized and long paragraphs have been divided.

Edward N. Kirk

"Effectual Prayer"

Dr. Kirk states, "Two facts are here affirmed: that prayer is efficacious, [and] that the efficacy of prayer is proportioned to its holy energy." It would be too shameful to elaborate on how we fail in prayer, much less how we fail in praying with "holy energy." Let this sermon inspire us to approach God's throne with renewed passion and the faith that knows God will answer.

Sermon VIII, "Effectual Prayer," in Discourses, Doctrinal and Practical (Boston: S. K. Whipple and Company, 1857). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been modernized and long paragraphs have been divided.

Howard Crosby

"The Life of Prayer"

How do our good works fit in with our prayers? Read this practical sermon by Howard Crosby.

Taken from Sermons (New York: Anson D. F. Randolph & Co., 1891). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been modernized and long paragraphs have been divided.

John Brown, D.D.

"Prayer as the Means of Obtaining Blessings"

Jesus instructs us to ask, seek, and knock when coming to his throne of grace. Professor John Brown's exposition of Matthew 7:7-11 is a great aid in understanding this important passage.

Exposition IV, Part VI, ยง 3 in volume 1 of Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord Jesus Christ: A Series of Expositions, 2 vols., 2nd ed. (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1854). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been modernized, long paragraphs have been divided, and the NKJV has been used for the Scriptures quoted.

Nathanael Emmons

"The Proper Design and Energy of Prayer"

"For as a prince have you power with God and with men, and have prevailed." This sermon by Emmons is centered on the premise, "That it is the design of prayer to move God to bestow mercy."

Sermon XX, "The Proper Design and Energy of Prayer," in Sermons on Some of the First Principles and Doctrines of True Religion by Nathanael Emmons (Boston: Samuel T. Armstrong,1815). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation and KJV-era verbs and pronouns have been modernized and long paragraphs divided.

G. Granger Fleming

"The Practice of Prayer"

How can we get a heart on fire for prayer?

Chapter XXIII in The Dynamic of All-Prayer by G. Granger Fleming (Edinburgh: Oliphants LD., 1914).

Edward Bickersteth

"On Distractions in Prayer"

Being distracted during the worship service is all too common. Many of these distractions are caused by the behavior of other people, such as whispering, fussing with papers, glancing around, half-heartedly trying to keep kids quiet but essentially coddling them. These distractions are a great insult to the pastor, for not only do they divert the attention of the attentive worshiper from the message, but they cannot help but be a distraction to the pastor himself. How much greater is the offense to God when we ourselves are distracted by our own wandering thoughts during worship or prayer. This short essay by Bickersteth is must reading for us all.

Chapter XIII from A Treatise on Prayer by Edward Bickersteth (London: Seeley and W. Burnside, 1836). Note: Liberty has been taken for some light editing and paraphrasing. The NKJV has been used for quotations.

R. A. Torrey

"Always Praying and Not Fainting"

How often are we to ask God for the same thing?

Chapter VI in How to Pray by R. A. Torrey (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1900). Note: The text has not been modified, except that punctuation has been updated and the New King James Version has been used for scripture quotations.

[1] You can read the sermon from which this quote is taken in our Daily Devotions from the Classics.  Or:  Return to Top of This Page


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