Today is the National Day of Prayer. Tonight, our church is conducting our very first “Concert of Prayer.” It’s a big prayer meeting for the whole church. If you’re nearby, please come. I want you to pray with us! It’s important. 6:30-8:00, childcare provided.
Praying is miserably hard. I lose my concentration. I get bored. I forget what to pray for.
Yes, I follow an outline: the Lord’s Prayer. Yes, I’m a pastor, and I’m supposed to be a professional at praying.
I do pray; I’m just confessing that it’s hard.
It wasn’t always hard. I had a prayer surge in my 30’s. I prayed for 1-3 hours at a stretch, no problem. Good days. But it’s like God flipped off a switch or something. I didn’t do any gross sin. I didn’t turn my back on God. I’m not aware that I disobeyed him any more than normal. My prayer burner got turned off. Interesting.
Then I was set free!
One of my preaching heroes, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, wrote that there were no rules in how long we should pray or how often we should pray, except one:
Here’s the rule…
Are you ready?
Now are you ready?
Here it is…
“Never resist the urge to pray.”
Fantastic! I wish that I had thought of that! After all, doesn’t God know how to bring us to our knees? Yep. He sure does. One simple rule is all it takes for me.
“Secret [personal] prayer is such an essentially spiritual duty that the Bible nowhere lays down laws and rules either as to times or as to places for such prayer. The Bible treat us as [adults] and not as children.
“The Bible is at pains to tell us how this saint of God did in his day; and then, that other saint in his day and in his circumstances: how Abraham did, and Jacob, and David, and Daniel, and Jesus Christ, and his disciples and apostles.
“The Bible is bold to open the shut door of all these secret saints of God, and to let us see them and hear them on their knees. Abraham for Sodom, Jacob at the Jabbok, Daniel with his open window, Jesus on the mountain all night, and in the garden at midnight, Peter on the housetop, and Paul in the prison and in the workshop, for his hearers and for his readers.
“And then, we are left free to choose our own times and places, –few or many, open or secret, vocal or mental, just as we need, just as we like, and just as suits us.”
Alexander Whyte (ca. 1899), in “Lord, Teach us to Pray.”
Please pray today. Don’t resist the urge.
And please, pray for me and my family! We need it.