Archive for August 9th, 2020

Rules for Prayer


Written by Dr. R.C. Sproul (1939-2017), an American theologian and pastor. He founded Ligonier Ministries and the Renewing Your Mind broadcast. This is excerpted from his devotion “Examining Calvin’s Rules of Prayer.”

For John Calvin, prayer was like a priceless treasure that God has offered to His people. Calvin’s first rule of prayer was to enter into it with a full awareness of the One to whom we are speaking. The key to prayer is a spirit of reverence and adoration. Calvin wrote of how easy it is for our minds to wander in prayer. We become inattentive, as if we were speaking to someone with whom we are easily bored. This insults the glory of God. Calvin’s second rule of prayer was that we ask only for those things that God permits. Prayer can be an exercise in blasphemy if we entreat His blessing for our sinful desires. John Calvin’s third rule of prayer was that we must always pray with genuine feeling. Prayer is a matter of passion: “Many repeat prayers in a perfunctory manner from a set form, as if they were performing a task to God . . . They perform the duty from custom, because their minds are meanwhile cold, and they ponder not what they ask.”  A fourth rule of prayer from Calvin was that it be always accompanied by repentance. A humble submission is required.

How does your personal prayer life line up with these rules? Do you pray with genuine feeling? Is your heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into conversation with God? Do you ask only for those things God permits? Do you accompany your prayers with repentance? If I can summarize Calvin’s teaching on prayer succinct, I would say this: The chief rule of prayer is to remember who God is and to remember who you are. If we remember those two things, our prayers will always and ever be marked by adoration and confession.


From the Mozarabic Rite, a liturgical rite once used generally in what is now Spain and Portugal. Developed during Visigoth rule of the Iberian peninsula in the 500s AD.

Hear our prayer, O Lord, and listen to our groaning,

for we acknowledge our iniquities, and lay open our sins before you.

Against you, O God, have we sinned.

To you we make our confession and ask forgiveness.

Turn your face again, Lord, to your servants you redeemed with your own blood.

Spare us, pardon our sins, and extend to us your loving-kindness and your mercy.


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