“O Lord, you know how busy I must be this day. If I forget you, please do not forget me”.
– General Lord Astley.
”A single grateful thought raised to heaven is the most perfect prayer”.
– Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Only God can move mountains. But faith and prayer move God.
– E.M. Bounds
A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet and until in the end he realized that prayer is listening.
– Søren Kierkegaard
“Pray without ceasing;” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
The inward discipline of biblical prayer
Prayer has become such an apathetic posture in Church today. Barna research group in America reports: “More than four out of five adults (82%) pray during a typical week.” That may sound impressive, but how many pray every day? Remember that Jesus taught us to pray daily (Matthew 6:11). It’s amazing how we believe things without doing it, the erroneous belief in the modern Church today is that when we believe something it’s good enough; this is what we call nominal Christianity which is a diluted and shallow profession of faith without an actual reality or lifestyle in line with it. Yet, prayer is expected of us all. Jesus expected us to pray!
Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray…”
Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray…”
Matthew 6:7 “And when you pray…”
Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray….”
Luke 11:9 “So I say to you: Ask….; Seek …; Knock.”
Luke 18:1 “Then Jesus told his disciples….they should always pray.”
Other portions of Scripture make clear the very importance of prayer. (Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17.) The author Donald S Whitney wrote “Prayer is expected of us because we need it. We will not be like Jesus without it!” The reformer Martin Luther use to say often “as it is the business of the tailor to make clothes and the cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of the Christian to pray.”
Some counsel in prayer.
Prayer is learned- Andrew Murray, the South African reformed minister wrote in his famous book “With Christ in the school of prayer”; “Reading a book about prayer, listening to lectures and talking about it is very good, but won’t teach you to pray. You get nothing without exercise, without practice. I might listen for a year to a professor of music playing those beautiful music; but that would not teach me to play the instrument.”
Prayer is an ongoing relationship- Madam Jeanne Guyon writes “This way of prayer, the simple relationship to our Lord, is so suited for everyone; it is just as suited for the dull and the ignorant as it is for the well educated. Prayer, this experience which begins so simply, has its end in a totally abandoned love for our Lord. Only one thing is required- LOVE!”
Don’t be discouraged by your lack of prayer- Mary Claire Vincent writes “the desire for prayer is prayer, the prayer of desire…” Mother Teresa edify us “If you cannot pray, let Jesus within you pray.” Jesus is always praying for you. Remember His words to Peter in Luke 22:31-32.
Don’t try to hard to pray- When we try to hard to pray we focus rather on method than God. The method of prayer should never be our focus.
Let nothing keep you from prayer- Even in the midst of sin and temptation we must not allow anything to keep us from God. Emillie Griffen writes “The Lord love us perhaps most o f all when we pray and try again…”
The practice of Simple prayer.
Simple prayer starts with praying ordinary things by simply being with God. Most of us lives with an inner “apartheid” were we separate our “spiritual” from our “normal” lives. Richard Foster says that the scandal of Christianity today is the unbiblical division into what is secular and what is Spiritual. In his book “Prayer- finding the hearts true home” he counsels us to do 3 things:
A. We must turn the ordinary experiences into prayer.
• Work must become prayer (1 Corinthians 10:31)
• Anthony Bloom writes: “A prayer makes only sense if it is lived. Unless, our prayers are lived, unless life and prayer becomes completely interwoven, prayer becomes a sort of polite peace offering which you offer to God at moments when you are giving time to Him.”
• In the movie “Chariots of Fire” the Olympic runner Eric Lindell tells his sister: “Jenny, when I run I feel His pleasure.”
• Note that before the fall we worked. Nicolas Grou speaks of the “prayer of action” where “everyday actions performed in the sight of God because it is the will of God, and in the manner that God wills, is a prayer and indeed a better prayer than could be made in words in such times…”
• Ignatius of Loyola says “everything that one turns in the direction of God is prayer.”
B. We must see God in the ordinary experiences of life.
• Breathe prayer- Breathing becomes praying. (R.M French. “The way of the pilgrim”). The author of this book explains the prayer the following way “Sit down in silence. Lower your head, shut your eyes, breathe out gently, and imagine yourself looking into your own heart. Carry your mind, that is, your thoughts, from your head to your heart. As you breathe out, say, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Say it moving your lips gently or simply say it in your mind. Try to put all other thoughts aside. Be calm, be patient, and repeat the process very frequently.”
• Flash prayer- Seeing becomes praying. (Frank Laubach “Minutes with God”.) Sometimes we will see a specific circumstance, need or person and we will just mention it immediately before God in a short word mentally or verbally and ask Him to take care of it.
• Prayer of doing- Doing becomes prayer. (Brother Lawrence- “Practicing the presence of God.”) “We should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s presence by continually conversing with Him. It is a shameful thing to quit His conversation to think of trifles and fooleries.”
“Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Psalm141:2)