John Bunyan, a Baptist Minister, was born in 1628 and died in 1688. Since he was a Baptist in that day and not a licensed minister, it was illegal for John Bunyan to preach. Bunyan was thrown in prison for 12 years. It was during that imprisonment that he wrote his most famous work The Pilgrim’s Progress (it has been regarded as one of the most significant works in English literature, having been translated into more than 200 languages and has never been out of print since 1678!).
Since Bunyan spent 12 years in prison, there is much to learn from the way he prayed and how he prayed. Bunyan prayed both in public and in private. Since prayer is communication with God, it is a way for believers to grow in their relationship with God. Bunyan says in prayer you grow in familiarity with God. For instance, the more I am in communication with my wife, the more I enjoy talking to my wife, and the more I want to talk to my wife. So in prayer, believers grow in communication with the one they love. Communication presses for more communication.
Because he was not licensed by the church of England, Bunyan was imprisoned, however, he could have been released from prison if he would have quit preaching the gospel. This should say something to Christians in our day and days to come that whatever happens we should never abandon the gospel by which we have been saved. Also, I do not think John Bunyan, when he was in prison, prayed for more comfort in his cell. I believe by what he has written that he prayed for his life to be made much of for the sake of the gospel. Christians should not be praying for more comforts at home. For example, I should not pray, “God, please give me a 72 inch flat screen tv so that I may sit on the couch and watch Netflix all day”. That is a comfort. That is not something that is necessary for life.
More often than not in our “Americanized Christianity”, we are not satisfied with the grace that God shows to us in giving us food, water, breath, etc. I am right there too. It is by the grace of God that I have food on the table to eat. For Evan Knies to pray for more comforts in the den is just silly. Evan Knies needs to pray, “Jesus, Thank You, for putting breath into my lungs, may I honor you with my life today, tomorrow, and for the rest of the time that I am on this Earth because only what is done for you will last!”. It is impossible for me to say that I am gospel centered and yet not pray. In prayer, Evan Knies is humbled, because he knows he can not make it on his own and he is pleading to God to show mercy.
Bunyan said this on prayer,
“Prayer is sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God”.
I am thankful to God for John Bunyan. He was a man who did not abandon the truth in the Word of God nor did he make prayer a separate entity in his life. Prayer is an attribute of a Christian (Matt. 6, Acts 1:14, Rom. 12:12, Col. 4:2). John Bunyan was a man centered on the gospel of God, so he was also a man of prayer.
Lord may I make much of Christ through this decaying body because only what is done for Jesus Christ will last!
Evan Knies is an undergraduate student at Boyce College where he studies Biblical and Theological Studies. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife, Lauren. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies.