Recently, I’ve been reading Practical Religion by JC Ryle (written in 1878). Consider these quotes from his chapter on prayer:
- “Prayer is the most important subject in practical religion” (p. 59).
- “I have come to the conclusion that the great majority of professing Christians do not pray at all” (p. 64).
Ryle says that when people pray “they seem to be taking up a fresh thing” (p. 66). Why would this be? Why does prayer seem a fresh, foreign thing to us? Could it be that prayer seems to be a fresh thing because it is, in fact, a fresh thing? Could it be that three minutes of corporate prayer (or 10 minutes of corporate worship) is foreign because three minutes of private prayer (and 10 minutes of private worship) is foreign?
It is here that Ryle offers help:
- “In every journey there must be a first step. There must be a change from sitting still to moving forward” (p. 78).
- “Prayer is the simplest act in all religion. It is simply speaking to God…The weakest infant can cry when he is hungry…” (p. 77).
What praise is God worthy of? Tell him. What grace do you find yourself needing today? Ask him.
Everything we do in private affects what we do in public. Our private worship affects our public worship. Our private prayer life affects our public, corporate prayer life. Let’s resolve to be a church whose public prayer and worship is an accurate reflection of our private prayer and worship.