This Thursday at 7 PM in Read, Landes Lounge, we'll be wrapping up our semester study on prayer with an open Q&A session. What questions do you still have? Is there something theological you'd like to understand better? Something practical you don't know how to manage? Anything is fair game! Use the form below to let us know what questions you'd like answered this Thursday.
Last night at our weekly CNCF Bible Study, we took a break from focusing as much on the content of our prayers, and we looked at some practical resources we can use as tools to discipline ourselves in the spiritual discipline of prayer.
I've found that few things stir in me a desire to pray than reading good books by faithful men of the past and present. Aside from Scripture, here are some good ones:
This semester we'll be dwelling on the theology of prayer, as well as giving ourselves to its practice. But here's the thing. Prayer isn't easy. Rarely is it a glorious and effortless spiritual experience. Here's what E. M. Bounds has to say:
Prayer is spiritual work; and human nature does not like taxing, spiritual work. Human nature wants to sail to heaven under a favoring breeze, a full, smooth sea. Prayer is humbling work. It abases intellect and pride, crucifies vainglory, and signs our spiritual bankruptcy, and all these are hard for flesh and blood to bear. It is easier…
Prayer to the One True God is one of the clearest things that sets apart the people of God from the rest of the world. And yet if you ask any self-professing Christian, most will indicate that prayer is one of the greatest areas of weakness in their exercise of faith. We all have many rebellious excuses for not getting around to this duty: busy schedules, cold hearts, other responsibilities.…But without prayer we suffer. And we must ask ourselves, If we lack a desire to seek blessings from our Father in heaven through prayer, are we really His sons?
I just wrote this post on the importance of knowing your own sinful misery in order to have a vital prayer life. John Bunyan was my springboard, but tonight I'm reading J. C. Ryle. Though writing 200 years later than Bunyan, Ryle drives home the same theme of understanding your spiritual depravity, particularly in the context of giving ourselves to spiritual disciplines. Read this:
Here is the life of prayer, when in or with the [Holy] Spirit, a man being made sensible of sin, and how to come to the Lord for mercy, he comes, I say, in the strength of the Spirit, and cries "Father" [Romans 8:15]. That one word spoken in faith is better than a thousand prayers, as men call them, written and read in a formal, cold, luke-warm way.
Do you feel as though your prayers are often "formal," "cold," and "lukewarm"?
If Bunyan's right, it's probably because you are not sensible of the depth of your own sin and misery. In other words, your prayer life is likely cold and dead because you don't see the extent of your need to go to God. Sure, you might run to Him when you have a crisis to be rescued from: illness, stress about school, heavy traffic, or some other uncomfortable situation. But these things will only bring you to God periodically and selfishly. The question is, Are you aware of your constant, complete dependence on God because of your sinful misery? Do you feel a perpetual need to call upon God to sustain you in the midst of your battle with your sinful flesh? Do you live in the mercy of Jesus Christ? And if not, why not? Because you are not sensible of your sin.
Lately, I've been seeing a glaring reason we have little to no sense of our sinful misery. And that is that we are worldly.
Now, I suspect that's a vague and mysterious word to our ears. Worldly. But it's really quite simple. Worldly = World-like. Like the world.
But what does it mean for us to be like the world? Here's an idea…
President Obama's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast have been flooding the news, blogs, and even sermons this past week, and for good reason.
Speaking of prayer, and of Islam's militant advance upon the civilized world, Psalm 14:4 bears keenly on our current global situation: