Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Piper's Prayer Life

I found Adrian Warnock's interview with John Piper in the U.K. helpful. He talks about many subjects and here is a portion of his discussion on his own prayer life.
So, what you’ve described — I suspect there may be many preachers out there saying, “Okay, I get what you’re saying, but how do I get to that place?” You mentioned prayer. I know prayer is important to you. You often talk about prayer in your books. Could you talk a little bit about what your own prayer life looks like? How you get, if you like, connected to God in that way you’re describing?...

I surely am not a model to hold up for prayer because I have models and I fall short of them. But, my life is a combination of private prayer, family prayer, corporate prayer at church—it’s a rhythm of those things. I try to be with the Lord every morning for an hour or so. The way it works for me is mingling together Word and prayer. I don’t read the Bible for twenty minutes and pray for twenty minutes, or forty and forty, whatever. It’s in and out and in and out. I learned that basically from George Mueller, who said he made the big mistake in his early Christian life of trying to pray for an extended period of time, and his mind inevitably went everywhere except toward the Lord, so he began by whispering up a one minute prayer for help, and then he took the Word and turned everything he’d read into prayer. He said I laid sixty things before the Lord this morning, and I laid them through the Word. And that’s pretty much the way I go about it.

John PiperWhen it comes to praying for things, besides what’s in the text, I pray in concentric circles. The most needy person I know is me. Therefore I pray about me first, because if I can’t be fixed, I won’t fix anybody. I won’t bless my wife or children or the Church. So I pray about this soul and my passion for God here, and then I move out to my wife and my children. I pray for them about whatever was in the text. Then I move out to my elders and my staff, and I name all the staff every day and our elders. And then I move out to the church, and move out to the city, and the nations. That’s the way I pray. And that can fill up a lot of time as God brings different things. I use helps. I have lists. I have lists of the names because I can’t even remember the names of 34 elders sometimes, and I have to say those. And then I use things like Operation World to pray for the nations. I keep it on my computer. I keep it in the book beside my old prayer bench at home.

By the way, I have a place of prayer. In my study there’s a little corner with a built wall, like this—it’s got a bench, it’s got books, it’s got a Bible. So I can kneel, it’s got a little rug. In 1975, so it’s now thirty-two years ago, I realized when I finished graduate school and owned my first home that this home should have a prayer place in it because otherwise, I think if you don’t have a place that’s designated that’s relatively secure, you tend to kind of sit on the couch, cross your legs, put some coffee beside you, and go to sleep, and call it prayer time. You don’t tend to do that if you have a place that’s just set aside for prayer.

You can read or view all the interviews here.

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