Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Simple Way to Pray

Continuing on the theme of prayer... 

One of the friends that I had a conversation with about prayer lent me a book he thought I might find helpful.  It is entitled A Simple Way to Pray by Dr. Archie Parrish.  It is written on a letter that Martin Luther originally wrote to his barber who asked him for a simple way to pray that the average person could use.  Luther shows him how to pray by using The Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Apostle's Creed.  As I read it, I am finding so many good and useful things that I'd like to remember.  However, this book does not belong to me, so I'm writing them down in a little notebook.  I thought, though, that I would share them here as well, as they might be an encouragement to anyone who might happen along in this little corner of cyberspace. 

Dr. Parrish begins the book by introducing Luther to the readers.  Here is a quote that stood out to me.
Luther prayed four hours a day.  Helmut Thieliche wrote, "Luther prayed this much, not despite his busy life, but because only so could he accomplish his gigantic labors...  To work without praying and without listening means only to grow and spread oneself upward without striking roots and without creating an equivalent in the earth.  A person who works this way is living unnaturally."
 After Luther is introduced, then begins the letter written to his barber.  This is what Luther has to say about putting prayer off until later.
Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas that tell you 'Wait a little while.  I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.'  Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing come of prayer for that day.
How often does that happen in our lives?  We think that writing that grocery list or doing the laundry needs to get done first and then we'll pray.  Or I know many times I tell myself that I'm just going to check Facebook real fast and then I'll pray.  But before I know it, 25 minutes have gone by, I know what everyone's status updates are and I've seen their new pictures, but I have not talked to my sweet Jesus.  And then I go out and face the world without that solid foundation of  prayer that is so essential.

My desire and my goal is to spend time with God--reading His Word, talking to Him in a deep and intimate way--before I go about my daily business.  I encourage you, oh reader, to do the same.  Join me in making prayer a priority in our lives.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Prayer thoughts

So in the last week I've had 3 good conversations with 2 friends about prayer.  I taught a few Sunday School lessons on prayer.  I'm doing this Bible study on The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul and we keep touching on how we need to pray more.  Prayer is also a discipline I've been trying to work on for the last few months.  So prayer has been on my mind a lot lately.

Here's the thing, though.  I don't know why praying is so hard.  I mean, you are talking to your heavenly Father who loves and cares for you infinitely more than any human being could.  Yet we want to hash out our life problems--and the world's problems even--with every person we come in contact with.  At least I know that's how I am.  I could just come to the Lord and share with Him.  He knows even before I ask what I need, what the solution is, and how He is going to meet that need.  He is sovereign--totally in control and totally just and holy in His answers to my prayers.  I can trust Him for that.  Yet I don't go to Him as I should. 

Well, in one of those conversations that I mentioned before, I remembered a quote about prayer that I read some time ago.  It was in a book by Max Lucado called Just Like Jesus.  He was telling of a man who said that he was in constant communication with the Lord.  He just kept a running conversation with God as He went about his business.  I thought that was an interesting concept.  In looking for that quote (I wrote it down somewhere, but who knows where :P ), I found another quote for that same book.  I don't know if this is the same guy as before, but it's pretty amazing.  It fits in with this whole thing because I've also been thinking a lot about God's holiness and the fact that God in His holiness cannot accept the filth of our lives.  Even in prayer, we need to confess and make things right with Him.  Here is the quote.
I have tasted a thrill in fellowship with God which has made anything discordant with God disgusting.  This afternoon, the possession of God has caught me up with such sheer joy that I thought I never had known anything like it.  God was so close and so amazingly lovely that I felt like melting all over with a strange blissful contentment.  Having had this experience which comes to me now several times a week, the thrill of filth repels, for I know its power to drag me from God.  And after an hour of close friendship with God, my soul feels clean, as new fallen snow. (bold mine)   --from the journal of Frank Laubach as quoted in Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado
Have you "tasted a thrill in fellowship with God" lately?  Just taking the time to slow down and talk to God can be a challenge.  And then actually sitting still and quieting all other voices and thoughts is difficult and definitely takes work.  But in the last few weeks, I've found it to be rewarding.