How do you pray? How do you think about praying? How do you set out to pray? Consider these encouragements from Thomas Brooks in his volume, The Privy Key of Heaven (also reprinted recently by Banner as The Secret Key to Heaven). Brooks clearly feels himself on the very borders of reverent speech as he seeks to communicate the fervency of true and prevailing prayer, calling for a holy impudence that we would do well to cultivate:
God loves to see his people zealous and warm in his service. Without fervency of spirit, no service finds acceptance in heaven. God loves that his people should be lively and active in his service. Rom 12.12, "Persistent in prayer;" or "continuing with all your might in prayer." It is a metaphor from hunting dogs, which will never give over the hunt until they have got their prize. Rom 15.30, "That you strive together with me, in your prayers to God for me;" "strive mightily, strive as champions strive, even to an agony," as the word imports. It is a military word, and notes such fervent wrestling or striving, as is for life and death. Col 4.12, "Always laboring fervently for you in prayer." The Greek word which is here used, signifies to strive or wrestle, as those do who strive for mastery; it notes the vehemency and fervour of Epaphras' prayers for the Colossians. Look! as the wrestlers do bend, and writhe, and stretch, and strain every joint of their bodies, that they may be victorious; so Epaphras did bend, and writhe, and stretch, and strain every joint of his soul, if I may so speak--that he might be victorious with God upon the Colossians' account. So, when Jacob was with God alone, ah how earnest and fervent was he in his wrestlings with God, Gen 32.24-27; Hos 12.4-5. He wrestles and weeps, and weeps and wrestles; he tugs hard with God, he holds his hold, and he will not let God go, until as a prince he had prevailed with him. Fervent prayer is the soul's contention, the soul struggling with God; it is a sweating work, it is the sweat and blood of the soul, it is a laying out to the uttermost all the strength and powers of the soul. He who would gain victory over God in private prayer, must strain every string of his heart; he must, in beseeching God, besiege him, and so get the better of him; he must be like importunate beggars, that will not be put off with frowns, or silence, or sad answers. Those who would be masters of their requests, must, like the importunate widow, press God so far as to put him to a holy blush, as I may say with reverence: they must with a holy impudence, as Basil speaks, make God ashamed to look them in the face, if he should deny the importunity of their souls.