Don’t Beat Yourself Up (About Prayer)

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.day-prayer.jpg

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.

prayhands-copy.jpgIt 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.

I used to think that I had to pray for an hour a day. That little self-imposed “rule” was messing me up. If I didn’t pray that long, I’d beat myself up.Handcuffs

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.

I hope this quote from an old time preacher encourages you when it comes to prayer. Pray, but don’t beat yourself up if it’s lame: whyte.jpg

“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.

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3 thoughts on “Don’t Beat Yourself Up (About Prayer)

  1. There is a Church that I regularly visit that is as full of passion for prayer as any I’ve seen…

    …I heard someone speak there say that the goal of prayer is never “time,” but rather, “intimacy.”

    There is certainly a correlation between the intimacy my wife and I enjoy and the time we spend in each other’s proximity. But it would be foolish to think that proximity equates to (or even causes) initmacy.

    I too, do battle with this constantly. It is simply too easy to approach God in an “engineering” mindset, thinking my input causes His output. The truth is that we must approach God with a “relational” midset.

    I once found myself reading so much that I was not reading the Bible, so I stopped because I felt like I was not simply seeking God. The sad thing is, is that by the end of my time in the word, I was trying to see how much of the Bible I could read in a set ammount of time! How sad…

  2. I have been thinking about your comments on prayer for quite a while. I remember you have said to not “set yourself up for a fall” by promising God you’ll read the Bible so many times, pray so long, etc. Reading “Don’t resist the urge to pray” is so perfect in answering the question as to how to pray continually. THANK YOU! Please know we think of you and your family, appreciate you and your family, and PRAY for you and your family every time we meet to listen to the Galatians series, read the script, and discuss the topics that arise. You’re pretty special to us San Francisco folks!!

  3. Would love to hear from you guys .. I believe god loves us all and together the world apart we can make a difference

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