Jonathan Edwards on Prayer
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart… Luke 18.1
Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
“Why therefore will you retain such a hope, of which your own experience shows you the ill tendency, in that it encourages you to lead a wicked life? For certainly that life is a wicked life wherein you live in the neglect of so well-known a duty, as that of secret prayer, and in the disobedience of so plain a command of God, as that by which the duty is enjoined. And is not a way of disobedience to God a way to hell?”
Jesus said that “men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” Can there be any doubt about what He expects of those who follow Him? Edwards insisted that it is “wicked” to live “in the disobedience of so plain a command of God, as that of secret prayer” – and always to be in prayer. Edwards bore down on his congregation over this matter, because he did not want them to neglect prayer, and so turn to the path of wickedness, where they might find many more distractions and traps. People today neglect private prayer, or striving to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5.17), because we give them the impression that, while these are good ideas and noble spiritual aspirations, they’re hardly the sort of thing to be expected of every believer. If we are giving that impression, then are we imitating Christ in His instruction? Are we following in the footsteps of a pastor like Edwards, who experienced multiple seasons of revival as a result of his preaching and his prayers?
Do you believe that “always” to pray, or, to “pray without ceasing” is a goal you should be striving to realize in your life? Why or why not?
If Men Will Pray
Paul said that he wanted men everywhere to pray. But that won’t just happen. Someone will have to take the lead in showing men how to pray, enlisting them for the work, and helping them grow in consistency and power in their prayers. You have to start somewhere. Our booklet, If Men Will Pray, is a tool for learning to pray following Paul’s guidelines in 1 Timothy 2.1-8, and for enlisting another man for a 30-day prayer journey together. Watch this brief video, then order several copies of this booklet, and start enlisting your men for fuller, more consistent, and more satisfying lives of prayer (click here).
Thinking for a Christian Worldview
Christian thinkers have a Christian worldview. Our course, One in Twelve: Introduction to Christian Worldview, uses twelve diagrams to provide a comprehensive framework for thinking and living Christianly in the world. It’s free, online, and available for you to study by yourself or with your leadership team, at your own pace and on your own schedule. For more information and to register, click here.
The Fellowship of Ailbe is supported through the generous and faithful gifts of those who benefit from and believe in our work. Does the Lord want to use you in this way? Please look to Him in prayer over this question. You can contribute to The Fellowship of Ailbe by using the Contribute button at our website, or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Thank you.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.All quotations from Jonathan Edwards, “Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer” in Edward Hickman, ed., The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1834, 1995), Volume Two, pp. 71 ff.
A Wicked Life
- T.M. Moore
- March 19, 2017
Prayerlessness leads to wickedness.
Jonathan Edwards on Prayer
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.