Here’s an Excerpt from Contending for the Habit of Daily Prayer

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From Chapter 1…

If modern statistics are correct, the average Christian is attempting to walk in fellowship with Jesus without ever talking to Him. It is widely reported that the average Christian prays only one minute per day (which makes one wonder what the below average Christian is doing). Though I have never been able to find the poll touting that statistic,[1] it sounds about right; in the ballpark at least. If it is even anywhere close to being true, what it really means is that many Christians are simply not praying at all. And yet, we know that God wants us to pray, for prayer is the primary means we have of spending time with Him!Contending

Since prayer is the way in which we enter into fellowship with God, there can surely be no credible argument against a renewed call to prayer in the Church. This book assumes that the reader agrees that Christians should pray, and has been written for those who have no prayer time or who struggle to maintain a viable, living commitment to the secret place.

The “Pray-As-You-Go” Oxymoron

So, we agree that we should pray. But what does prayer look like once we have accepted our responsibility to do it? A popular, sometimes subconscious, approach to prayer is what I call the “pray-as-you-go” method.[2] It gets justified in a couple of different ways.

First, many use Paul’s call to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) as justification for avoiding the discipline of daily prayer, in favor of constant prayer, or praying all the time. At first blush, it sounds extra-spiritual to “pray without ceasing.” But upon further examination, most attempts at constant prayer fall far short of the kind of prayer envisioned in Scripture, and, in fact, may be a subconscious attempt to side-step the strenuous process of travailing in prayer before the Lord.

A second, common justification for the pray-as-you-go method of prayer is the claim that we do not have enough time to pray. Setting aside the obvious reality that we all start each day with the same amount of time, the truth is that we cannot find time to pray because we are not convinced that it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, we would make time! When we list the hard-and-fast, time-crunching commitments that keep us from praying, we find that many of those commitments were optional at one time (until we made a decision to commit to them), demonstrating that we are capable of committing to the things that we consider to be priorities![3],[4]

If this is the average Christian’s approach to prayer, and if we add together the above justifications for the pray-as-you-go approach, what emerges is the oxymoronic statement, “I don’t have time to pray, therefore, I will pray constantly.” A picture emerges of someone trying to cultivate a walk with Jesus by praying for one minute or less as they drive their car to an appointment, or trying to “pray without ceasing” while answering calls at work. Granted, we should remain prayerful throughout the day. But if, as E. M. Bounds wrote, “Prayer . . . is a most serious work of our most serious years,”[5] then making a serious commitment to do it seems reasonable.

[1] George Barna usually gets the credit for this but I have seen no evidence of that.

[2] I offer a semi-apology for striking a slightly sarcastic tone here. I have known some Christians who I thought actually achieved this feat to some degree. In general, however, I think we all need a daily, set time in the Secret Place. It does seem ironic that we do not have the discipline to enter the closet and pray for an hour but we feel we can successfully be at prayer all day; we can’t do it for thirty minutes but we can do it for twenty-four hours!

[3] If you are a “pray-as-you-goer,” take a moment to do the introspection necessary to determine if you have come to that approach in a genuine attempt to remain in prayer all day or if you have been led to that path because of the difficulties of maintaining a vital, daily prayer time.

[4] Imagine if, before we ever made a commitment to a new thing, we asked ourselves, “How will this new commitment effect my daily commitment to prayer?”!

[5] E.M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer, 115.

Author: Scott

I’ll get back to you

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