One of the foundational steps in knowing God, and one of the basic demonstrations that we know God, is prayer—spiritual, persistent, biblically minded prayer. Writing a century and a half ago, Robert Murray M'Cheyne declared, "What a man is alone on his knees before God, that he is, and no more."
I do not write these things to manipulate you or to be engendering guilty feelings. But what shall we do? Have not many of us tried at one point or another to improve our praying, and floundered so badly that we are more discouraged than we ever were? Do you not sense, with me, the severity of the problem? Granted that most of us know some individuals who are remarkable prayer warriors, is it not nevertheless true that by and large we are better at organizing than agonizing? Better at administering than interceding? Better at fellowship than fasting? Better at entertaining than worship? Better at theological articulation than spiritual adoration? Better—God help us!—at preaching than praying?
What is wrong? Is not this sad state of affairs some sort of index of our knowledge of God? Shall we not agree with J. I. Packer when he writes, "I believe that prayer is the measure of the man, spiritually, in a way that nothing else is, so that how we pray is as important a question as we can face"? (J. I. Packer, in My Path of Prayer)
D. A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Baker, 1992 (my copy courtesy of Mark Gunn a reader of this blog. Thank you, again!)