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You Actually Have To Pray

  
Great series from the Resurgence blog, with highlights quoted below.  Make sure to check out the “Tips For Effective Prayer,” I thought they were very good. Leave your thoughts on these points and prayer in the comments below.

1 – Prevailing Prayer – http://theresurgence.com/2010/02/15/prevailing-prayer

“Arthur Wallis once said, “A move of God will last as long as the Spirit of prayer that inspired it.” You can tell when this happens. It’s when prayer is used as a last resort, as a spare wheel, but it’s meant to be the steering wheel.”

2 – Prayer Is The Priority – http://theresurgence.com/2010/02/17/prayer-is-the-priority

“When I was a schoolteacher, some kids would explain their lack of homework with “I forgot.” I would then ask why they hadn’t forgotten their clothes. The idea behind their explanation was that homework was that unimportant. The idea that we are too busy to pray is insanity. What could you possibly be doing that is more important?”

Good Intentions Change Nothing.  The Puritans talked about ‘praying, until you pray.’ That is a helpful expression. It can, and will, become a delight. If you don’t believe me, read Psalm 16. Prioritise prayer, make a plan, put it in your diary, and keep the appointment. Meaning to do something changes nothing: “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing…” (Prov. 13:4) and don’t just leave it to “the Spirit to lead you.” My experience is that he doesn’t, or not in the way I want him to anyway.”

Tips for Effective Prayer
– Set the right goals. Make them challenging enough to motivate you, but still doable.
– Get to prayer meetings. You’ll learn a lot.
– Learn what distracts you and outplay them.
– Keep close to a pencil and paper. Make notes if any thought keeps stealing your focus.
– Be around people who know how to pray and ask to join them. That can be the most instructive thing of all.
– If you have the gift of tongues, use it a lot. You are praying the mind of the Spirit (Rom. 8:26-27) and edifying yourself (1 Cor. 14:4).
– Be accountable to someone. Tell them to ask you how your prayer life is regularly. Encourage them to abuse you when you don’t pray!

“The prayers recorded in Scripture are there for our instruction. Nehemiah is not being liturgical here. It’s more than a traditional salutation. He deliberately begins with an appropriate reverence to God. Nehemiah is aware of the majesty of the God he addresses.”

D. Kidner says (regarding the Lord’s Prayer), “There is more than [flowery language] in this… opening. It deliberately postpones the cry for help, which could otherwise be faithless and self-pitying. It mounts immediately to heaven, where the perspective will be right, and it reflects on the character of God—not only for its loyalty and love, but first of all for the majesty which puts man, whether friend or foe, in his place.”

There is a scatter-gun approach to praying which betrays a lack of any expectation. We talk but we give the impression that God is probably not listening and definitely not very interested…It’s clear that certain praying gets nowhere near the ears of God since it is a mere religious exercise and is offered up to no one in particular.

4 Responses to “You Actually Have To Pray”

  1. on 15 Jun 2011 at 9:28 pmDoubting Thomas

    Victor,
    Great article. I love the links. It made me realize how often in my life I’ve used prayer as a last resort. I do pray everyday, but I know I should pray more often. Sean once said something about the Jews having set prayer times throughout the day. I think there were 4 or 5. Maybe I should get myself into the habit of having several specific prayer times during the day. That should help me to pray more.

    Does anyone know the specific times during the day when the Jews would pray???

  2. on 16 Jun 2011 at 10:46 amFiona

    Hi DT and all
    Jewish prayer times are three times a day, morning, afternoon and evening, except during Sabbath and feast days, when it would be 5 times a day. It seems to me, however, that a lot of this is recited prayer. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, but it could make people lazy; ie praying without thinking or personal input, much as RC’s recite the rosary- we will be guilty of “many words”.

    I especially liked point no. 6, about a “scatter-gun” approach to praying. In reflection, I have been guilty of this before-as if one is not sure that prayer will help, but are trying to cover all angles! I have never tried the reasoning/arguing during prayer bit, but it is certainly something to think about.
    Fiona

  3. on 16 Jun 2011 at 10:58 amXavier

    Fiona

    Jewish prayer times are three times a day…I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, but it could make people lazy…

    As far as I know Jews teach their kids to recite the Shema when they wake up and go to sleep. I think this tradition should be maintained by us like-minded Christians.

    But I do agree with your second point Fiona that such religious practices will become just that, religiosity. Trick is finding ways not to make it so.

  4. on 16 Jun 2011 at 5:23 pmDoubting Thomas

    Fiona,
    Thank-you for the response. I believe that 3 times a day is a reasonable goal that I should be able to set for myself. I didn’t realize that they prayed more often on the Sabbath and on feast days. On the Sabbath I like to watch my favorite religious You-tube videos and do a bit of reading. I find the music puts me in the right state of mind for praying and reflecting on God’s word…

  

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