John Calvin On Prayer

John Calvin is one of the most influential reformers in the Reformation. In his famous multivolume book, The Institutes of The Christian Religion, he dedicates extensive time to prayer, and gives plenty of reasons why you and I should pray.

Here I’d like to share with you a few of the reasons he gave on why we should pray.

For increased zeal: Calvin starts with zeal. For without communion with the Lord, you can’t expect to be zealous for the Lord.

2. For the right desires: Calvin then goes to desires. But not just to any desires, but holy ones.

    “Secondly, that there may enter our hearts no desire and no wish at all of which we should be ashamed to make him a witness, while we learn to set all our wishes before his eyes, and even to pour out our whole hearts.”

3. For increased gratitude: Why? Because the world wants to increase our discontentment, but through prayer, we can be a grateful people. He writes, “that we be prepared to receive his benefits with true gratitude of heart and thanksgiving, benefits that our prayer reminds us come from his hand.”

4. For reflection on God’s answers: We should pray for blessings. But after receiving them, if God wills them, we should spend time reflecting on God’s goodness through prayer.

5. For greater delight in God: Delight and duty go together. Our duty is prayer, and our delight is God. But only through prayer can we actually delight in him (and the blessings he gives).

6. For confirmation of God’s Providence: Calvin seems to always bring things back to God’s Providence. Nevertheless, he does the same with prayer, and we should end prayer to help us confirm God’s Providence.

Finally, Calvin adds, “On account of these things, our most merciful Father, although he never sleeps or idles, still very often gives the impression of one sleeping or idling in order that he may thus train us, otherwise idle and lazy, to seek, ask, and entreat him to our great good.”

May we, as Tim Keller says (5 Steps for Effective Prayer) “be fired with a zealous and burning desire ever to seek, love, and serve him, while we become accustomed in every need to flee to him as to a sacred anchor.”

(Adapted from Gospel Relevance)