I don’t mean when we need help in crisis or the “Thank God” when we avert one, but the discipline of prayer that we are called to do as disciples in relationship with Our Lord, and as co-laborers in His harvest. It must be hard because it is quite a feat to persuade people to actually do it.
Not that there is any shortage of desire to learn about it, or talk about it, or subscribe to it’s benefits, but the action of taking time to really step into the experience is where we stop short.
We all know how good it is, and how necessary. For a believer in Christ it is not a debate over those facts. Instead it is the priority and discipline of it that causes all the shortages in prayer. And I do think that is the great unseen shortage of our day, and if this is so… if we are experiencing a shortage of prayer production what does that mean in terms of our ability to “know God”? How can we know Him, and know His will if we are not in prayer relating to Him? If it were just a matter of reading our Bibles and having Bible studies ( no shortages there!) then the Pharisees would never have missed out on the great event of their generation: the Advent and manifestation of The Christ.
Christian usually see themselves as the True Believers and rarely have any suspicions that they are Pharisees. Yet, too often they concentrate on their attention to doctrine and neglect of living spiritual life. Real spiritual life springs from a relationship with God in the Spirit of worship and paying heed, and consequential obedience; the doctrine is the husbandry of it. Doctrine feeds, gives guidance and sometimes prunes the spiritual life that springs up from within. How much good is fertilizer for the cast off branch? I am taking this analogy from Christ’s parables, and particularly from the admonition that we “Abide in the vine”
We are often promised in seminars or by book marketers that reading about or learning about prayer will transform our lives. We attend, we purchase and read, but we remain unchanged…why is that? I believe it is because we subtly substitute our interest in “the topic” with the actual practice in our lives. This makes no difference in the spiritual reality. It only deludes our own minds, and then we wonder why we are so collectively weak and ineffectual. The very opposite that we are told is the outcome of true intercession.
I encourage you: take time to pray. Make it your priority, in your day, in your family, in your church.
Every time you read about prayer, institute a practice of it right away. Stop midway through your book…pray. In all the meetings of your church life… make sure at least one each month is a group prayer action: a family time, a meeting at church devoted to prayer, etc. The opportunities are there.
This is one part of your life where the learning is in the doing, knowledge cooped up in your head won’t benefit you when it comes to mastering the art and labor of prayer. Perhaps because it is dependent on connecting to God and receiving His part of the response, and not simply an end result in itself.
I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.