During the early stages of the pandemic, the screen time for most people in the United States went up drastically. Some reported more than 500%-850% increase in screen time as people were glued to their phones and devices as they perused social media for information about COVID-19, watched online worship services, and connected with small groups from their church through Zoom meetings.
While the pandemic increased screen time and Netflix consumption, it likely caused our prayer time to decrease in some way. At first, prayers were offered up for the protection of our families and churches from the impact of COVID-19, but over time, the emphasis on prayer has decreased.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, another tragedy has struck our struggling nation after the tragic death of George Floyd. In what appears, by all video accounts, to be excess of force, mistreatment of a human being, and injustice that led to a wrongful death—our nation has been swallowed up in controversy related to this tragedy. From peaceful and lawful protests to unlawful rioting, burning of buildings, burning and destruction of police cars, violent attacks on police officers, and looting major cities.
If there was ever a time to pray, it’s now. Let us pray earnestly and without ceasing for God to intervene. As I was considering the topic of prayer, I’ve been reading through The Works of George Swinnock and in chapter 12 of volume 1, we find an entire treatise of prayer. Not only does he have much wisdom to share about the subject of prayer, but many others throughout history have provided great exhortations regarding the importance of Christian prayer.
My aim in sharing the perspectives of prayer with you from trusted voices of the past and present would be to encourage you to pray more and to pray earnestly regarding our nation and for the Church of Jesus in America as we deal with these difficult tragedies.
George Swinnock on Prayer
If he be on the top of a house with Peter, he may pray; if he be in the bottom of the ocean with Jonah, he may pray; if he be walking in the field with Isaac, he may pray when no eye seeth him; if he be waiting at table with Nehemiah, he may pray when no ear heareth him,; if he be in the mountains with our Saviour, he may pray; if we be in the prison with Paul, he may pray; wherever he is, prayer will help him to find God out. 
He went on to write:
By prayer fire hath been quenched, waters divided, the mouths of lions stopped, iron gates opened, the bottles of heaven opened and stopped, the course of nature overturned, diseases removed, health restored, sin subdued, grace bestowed, kingdoms supported, church enemies scattered, the blind restored, the dead enlivened, devils dispossessed, and the blessed God himself conquered. 
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Prayer
It is the highest activity of the human soul, and therefore it is at the same time the ultimate test of a man’s true spiritual condition. There is nothing that tells the truth about us as Christian people so much as our prayer life. Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer. 
Thomas Nettles on Prayer
Prayer must not be approached only as a means for the gain of something else. Prayer is in itself good and at the heart of our worship of the Triune God. 
John Owen on Prayer
He who prays as he ought will endeavor to live as he prays. 
Charles Spurgeon on Prayer
No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me. 
Jerry Bridges on Prayer
Prayer assumes the sovereignty of God. If God is not sovereign, we have no assurance that He is able to answer our prayers. Our prayers would become nothing more than wishes. But while God’s sovereignty, along with his wisdom and love, is the foundation of our trust in Him, prayer is the expression of that trust. 
John Bunyan on Prayer
Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer. 
John Calvin on Prayer
To know God as the Master and Bestower of all good things, who invites us to request them of Him, and still not go to Him and ask of Him – this would be of as little profit as for a man to neglect a treasure, buried and hidden in the earth, after it had been pointed out to him. 
In Matthew 6, Jesus taught on the subject of prayer and provided an example or model prayer for his followers. Jesus taught us to be dependent upon God and to make our requests and needs known to our heavenly Father. Not only did Jesus teach on the subject, he likewise exemplified how to pray. In Mark 1:35, we find these words, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
If we spend more time praying and less time screaming at one another on social media—when we do speak up it will be clear, bold, and communicated with confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, and the saving power of the gospel.
- George Swinnock, The Works of George Swinnock, M.A., Vol. 1 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1868), 107.
- Ibid., 107-108.
- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Vol 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 46.
- Thomas Nettles, “Concerts of Prayer,” Revival Commentary, v. 2, n. 1, p. 11.
- John Owen, The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded, (Ada, Michigan: Baker, 1977), 59.
- Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon at His Best, (Ada, Michigan: Baker, 1991), 143.
- Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress 1988), 107.
- John Bunyan, A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2000), 211.
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 850.