In his little book A Guide to Prayer published in 1715, Isaac Watts presents many helpful insights. The book concludes with a chapter titled, “Persuasive Arguments to Learn to Pray.” Six arguments attempt to motivate the reader to invest appropriate effort in learning how, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to approach the throne of grace. While some might chaff at the thought of learning to pray, Watts’ arguments lay out a number of Scriptural reasons.
Reason number one states, “The first argument I shall draw from the purpose and dignity of this gift: There is such a thing as correspondence with heaven, and prayer is a great part of it with we dwell on earth.” Correspondence with heaven. That phrase accurately describes prayer. Prayer enters the highest court of the universe. Praying brings the petitioner to the throne of grace. With the thoughts and words issued, we presume, upon His invitation, to petition the great I AM – Who was and is and is to come. He raises up nations, He assigns domains to rulers and rulers to domains. By Him alone each person draws their next breath. He upholds all things with the word of His power.
And we “correspond” with God in prayer.
He requires no offering save that of a broken and contrite heart. No admission fee gains audience apart from the shed blood of His dear Son, Jesus Christ. He welcomes questions arising from a sincere search for wisdom. Agonizing cries of pain and discouragement find audience with all compassion, mercy and grace being poured out in answer. Requests for supply in times of need He delights to fill from His infinite wealth and ownership of all things. To those confounded by His ways He gives wisdom when the request comes in faith. The weary find new strength in His presence. Anxiety and fear give way to peace and calm – even while the storms still rage. He rules all. And the petitioner is safe in His presence.
All this God freely offers to those who “correspond with heaven.” Learning to pray opens undiscovered vistas of comfort and assurance in the midst of uncertainty and chaos. Repeating and expanding upon the great doctrines of the Word while adding God-directed requests to specific challenges bursts the bonds of drudgery that constrain so many when it comes time to pray. As Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” The more at home God’s Word becomes in our souls, the greater will be our joy in corresponding with heaven.