Can Rambo Learn to Pray?

Getting men to pray has always been a daunting task. I suspect that we men like to talk to God on our own terms. Plus, the whole notion of relational connection is always frightening to us. Although quite a number of men feel this way, many women also struggle with the notion of building lives of prayer. As a pastor, teaching men and women how to pray is a part of the church’s annual teaching calendar.

Last year I designed a ten-lesson course aimed at teaching men how to pray. I titled it The Kneeling Warrior. Since I was dealing exclusively with men, I used military nomenclature to label the topics and overall course so that men would not consider prayer merely a feminine practice.

How to Make Prayer a Priority
I asked for one hundred men to meet with me for ten sessions. One of the prerequisites for participation was that they had to be deeply interested in being trained to take their post as commandos in prayer. I set a modest twenty-five-dollar registration fee to help ensure that I drew serious men. To my delight, 138 registered for the course. These men were husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers who wanted to build solid lives of prayer. Additionally, they shared the common bond of sincerely wanting to see results in their spiritual development as Christians.

At the first session, the men were teeming with excitement. To their surprise I gave out military hats. After everyone greeted each other, I announced the title of my first training topic, “Can Rambo Learn to Pray?” Rambo, of course, is the name of the tough guy character Sylvester Stallone played in several action movies. This Hollywood-created mythical character fights villains in order to earn respect and to exact justice and revenge. The problem is that movie perpetuates a myth that men are two-fisted, rough, crude, and non-spiritual creatures who take what they want from anyone. Can you imagine Rambo walking into your church today, asking, “Can you teach me how to pray?” Still, if you cannot envision someone like that becoming converted to Christ, why even contemplate the necessity of prayer as a vital ingredient to maintaining passion with God? God can do the impossible. But we must offer prayer to get His power released.

Making Prayer Easy
I recommended that the men look at prayer in a disciplined way. I encouraged them to start with a commitment to prayer of just 30-minutes each day, telling them that they would surely experience a continued surge in their spiritual growth and development.

I developed and used the following diagram to outline six areas of life that are in constant need of prayer. The idea was to spend five minutes per day praying for each of these areas so that in thirty minutes the men would have erected a prayer shield around their families, church, or communities.

The same is true of you. If you intercede for the passions, people, possessions, purpose, and problems that you or a family member is facing, you will maintain freshness in your relationship with God.

If you’re new to daily prayer, this diagram will help you practice. As you mature in prayer, you may no longer need this guide. The relational dialogue between you and Jesus will deepen to such a point that you will simply know how to pray what is on the Father’s heart because He gives you a holy concern for such things. According to E. M. Bounds, a man noted for his life of prayer, “Prayer is a trade to be learned. We must be apprentices and serve our time at it. Painstaking care, much thought, practice and labour are required to be a skilful tradesman in praying.”

By David D. Ireland, Ph.D., Author
Excerpt from Journey to the Mountain of God


[1] E. M. Bounds.  Purpose in Prayer.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1920), 48.