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3 Secrets about Prayer (That Jesus Wants You to Know)

Since the Civil War, hundreds of gold dollars including double eagles, “Indian Princess” dollars, and other coins from the era were buried and forgotten in a cornfield in Kentucky. Recently, however, an anonymous man accidentally discovered the trove of coins which might be worth as much as $2 million. 

Were the coins hurriedly buried during the war to protect them from invading soldiers? Did the original owner forget where they were stashed? How many generations of farmers have plowed that field in the last 160 years overlooking the treasure just beneath them? Have you overlooked something of value?

Some Christian leaders consider prayer to be the hidden treasure often overlooked. For instance, Ray Stedman said, “I must face up to an unswerving fact, and that is, if, in this vital area, we who are Christians are failing, it is simply because we have not yet seen what prayer is, and the part it plays in Christian living. Somehow the enemy has blurred our senses and dimmed our eyes so that we do not see this clearly.” Stedman suggested that if Christians rediscovered the Lord’s prayer life, their own prayer life would improve – “This is one thing we must learn, that there is no activity of life which does not require prayer, a sense of expectation of God at work. Is not this what that disciple felt (it may even have been Peter) as he watched our Lord praying?” If prayer is a treasure, then the prayer life of Jesus is the buried treasure of inestimable value to us. What treasured secrets do we discover then from the prayer life of Christ?


It’s true that prayer is the native language of the Christian life; but as in the case of human experience, a baby is born with a capacity for language but must learn vocabulary and how to form sentences. In a similar way, while natural to us, prayer must also be learned. The disciples knew it, and Jesus confirmed it. Luke reminds us the disciples asked to learn to pray.

“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples’” (Luke 11:1). Even though they had been surrounded by prayer their entire lives, apparently, they realized, by observing Jesus pray, they had a lot to learn about prayer. Are we any different today?

Prayer leader and author Daniel Henderson recently wrote, “It is my opinion that most of the people in our churches really don’t know how to pray …. I also think that there are people sitting in our pews that are dying to know how to pray but with no one to show them how to pray…”. The challenge for us is similar to that of the first disciples. Are we willing to continue learning about prayer?


Jesus anticipated one of the biggest challenges to prayer. We are too easily discouraged, and we stop praying before the answer comes. Again, in Luke we read, “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). The phrase “lose heart” is one word in the Greek New Testament which means “a loss of courage.” It describes a defeated attitude and a hopeless outlook and is the opposite of praying with persistence. 

The “persistence parable” Jesus told about a widow and an unjust judge made the otherwise powerless widow the hero against a powerful official, because she refused to back down from her request no matter how many times she was rejected. Jesus said we should pray like that. The answer may not come immediately; but, as we know, “God’s delays are not God’s denials.” Since God has knowledge of all future events, since He has all power, and since He loves His people, we can persist in prayer. 


Billy Graham said he imagined a room in heaven of unopened gifts that no one bothered to ask for. As stunning as it seems, our sovereign God chooses to utilize the prayers of His church to accomplish some things that, apparently, otherwise will not occur. For instance, James said, “…You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). 

On one occasion, a demon-possessed boy was terrorized by a suicidal spirit. So, a desperate father came to the Lord’s followers for a miracle; but they were helpless. According to Jesus, the reason for their spiritual impotence was their lack of prayer.

“And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And he said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer ’” (Mark 9:28-29). This may be the most underappreciated secret of prayer. God calls us to cooperate with Him by prayer in the lives of others. Since Jesus stated plainly that some things never occur “by anything but prayer,” we have no choice but to regard prayer as a gift from God to get things done. Prayer, after all, is not a way to get our will done in heaven; it’s a way to get God’s will done on earth. 

If what Jesus said is true, why do we pray as we do? Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, once observed, “Christians are praying for trinkets when we should be praying for continents.”   Are there really some things in this fallen creation that remain damaged and dead because we don’t pray? The words of Jesus elevate the significance of prayer and call us to pray as never before. If we refuse, prayer remains for us buried, undiscovered treasure. That can never be acceptable for us.

    About the Author

  • Kie Bowman

    Kie Bowman is senior pastor emeritus of Hyde Park Baptist Church and The Quarries Church in Austin, Texas and the SBC National Director of Prayer.

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