Reverence & Decorum in Prayer

No doubt, most, if not all Christians willingly admit that they struggle in the work of prayer. D. Edmond Hiebert wrote that prayer “is the most dynamic work which God has entrusted to His saints, but it is also the most neglected ministry open to the believer” (Working With God in Prayer, 9).prayer

Guilty as charged!

Prayer is a work that we must not neglect, but rather continue pursuing with vigor. It is difficult work for sure. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in his book, Why Does God Allow Suffering,

Of all the activities in which the Christian engages, and which are part of the Christian life, there is surely none which causes so much perplexity, and raises so many problems, as the activity which we call prayer.

Part of the work involved in prayer is approaching God appropriately.

We must not approach God as if he is a divine Santa Claus, to whom we offer our long list of wants without much, if any, thought.

We must not approach God as if he is our magic Genie who simply tells us that our wish is his command.

We must not approach God as if he is our spiritual Pez dispenser, who will give us our spiritual candy whenever we want it.

God is not like anything or anyone on this earth; therefore He requires of us a completely different mindset when we approach Him in prayer. The mindset we must have centers on the idea that

God does not exist for our benefit;

we exist for His glory.

Therefore, with the foundational mindset that we are subservient to the all-glorious God, we must approach God with a sense of reverence and decorum. C.H. Spurgeon said (Sermon #1024, The Throne of Grace),

If prayer should always be regarded by us as an entrance into the courts of the royalty of heaven and if we are to behave ourselves as courtiers should act in the presence of an illustrious majesty, then we are not at a loss to know the right spirit in which to pray. If in prayer we come to a throne, it is clear that our spirit should, in the first place, be one of lowly reverence.

Matthew Henry also wrote (A Method for Prayer, 14),

And it is requisite to the decent performance of the duty, that some proper method be observed, not only that what is said be good, but that it be said in its proper place and time; and that we offer not anything to the glorious Majesty of heaven and earth, which is confused, impertinent, and [u]ndigested. Care must be taken, than more than ever, that we be not rash with our mouth, nor hasty to utter anything before God; that we say not what comes uppermost, nor use such repetitions as evidence not the fervency, but the barrenness and slightness of our spirits; but that the matters we are dealing with God about being of such vast importance, we observe a decorum in our words, that they be well chosen, well weighed, and well placed.

While we have the blessing of calling God “our Father,” we should never lose the awe of Him being “in heaven.” Let us approach the throne of grace with a sense of reverence and decorum in our prayers.

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