Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Alone With God

Posted: February 28, 2012 by Ryan Vincent in Prayer

Rachel and I have agreed to read John MacArthur, Jr’s book,  Alone With God, mostly in an effort to deal with my prayer issues. Hardly through the Introduction, the book’s already proven itself insightful.

The author quotes the famous preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, saying:

Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God. (p. 5)

MacArthur, in “Chapter 1: The Attitude of Prayer”

Because ours is such a free and prosperous society, it is  easier for Christians to feel secure by presuming on instead of depending on God’s grace. Too many believers become satisfied with physical blessings and have little desire for spiritual blessings. Having become so dependent on their physical resources, they feel little need for spiritual resources. When programs, methods, and money produce impressive results, there is an inclination to confuse human success with divine blessing. Christians can actually behave like practical humanists, living as if God were not necessary. When that happens, passionate longing for God and yearning for His help will be missing—along with His empowerment. Because of this great and common danger, Paul urged believers to “pray at all times” (Eph. 6:18) and to “devote yourselves to prayer” (Col. 4:2). Continual, persistent, incessant prayer is an essential part of Christian living and flows out of dependence on God. (p. 13)

On praying continually (Luke 21:36):

I think of praying at all times as living in continual God-consciousness, where everything we see and experience becomes a kind of prayer, lived in deep awareness of and surrender to our Heavenly Father. It is something I share with my Best Friend—something I instantly communicate with God. To obey this exhortation means that, when we are tempted, we hold the temptation before God and ask for His help. When we experience something good and beautiful, we immediately thank the Lord for it. When we see evil around us, we ask God to make it right and to allow us to help accomplish that, if it is according to His will. When we meet someone who does not know Christ, we pray for God to draw that person to Himself and to use us to be a faithful witness. When we encounter trouble, we turn to God as our Deliverer.

Thus life becomes a continually ascending prayer: all life’s thoughts, deeds, and circumstances become an opportunity to commune with our Heavenly Father. In that way we constantly set our minds “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). (pp. 16-17)

Quoting the Puritan pastor, John Preston:

If you find sinful lusts, your business there is to work them out by prayer, to reason the matter, to expostulate the thing before the Lord, and not to give over until you have set all the wheels of your soul right, until you have made your hearts perfect with God. And, if you find your hearts cleaving too much to the world, you must wean them and take them off. If you find a deadness and unaptness, an indisposition in you, you must lift up your souls to the Lord and not give over until you are quickened. And this is to perform the duty in such a manner as the Lord accepts, otherwise it is hypocritical performance; for this is hypocrisy, when a man is not willing to let the duty go altogether, nor yet is willing to perform it fervently, and in a quick and zealous manner.

He that omits it altogether is a profane person, and he that performs it zealously, and to purpose, is a holy man; but a hypocrite goes between both. He would do something at it, but he will not do it thoroughly. And, therefore, if you find you have carelessly performed this duty from day to day, that you have performed it in a negligent, perfunctory manner, know that it is a hypocritical performance. Therefore, when we spend so much time exhorting you to a constant course in this duty, remember still that you must perform it in such a manner that may have heat and life in it, that it may be acceptable to God (p. 29)

 

I’ll update this post as I move through the book. It already looks like one I’d highly recommend.

My Struggle with Prayer

Posted: February 24, 2012 by Ryan Vincent in Prayer

As many of you are aware, prayer is a difficult thing for me. I struggle with it on both spiritual and intellectual levels, and I hate that I feel that way. This article really helped me see it in a different light. I even think it has some value for those of you that don’t struggle.

Lesson One in Prayer by Peter Kreeft

Some excerpts:

How to do it is less important than just doing it. Less-than-perfect prayer is infinitely better than no prayer; more perfect prayer is only finitely better than less perfect prayer.”

“The only effective answer to that excuse, I find, is a kind of murder. You have to kill something, you have to say no to something else, in order to make time to pray. Of course, you will never find time to pray, you have to make time to pray. And that means unmaking something else. The only way to install the tenant of prayer in the apartment building of your life is to evict some other tenant from those premises that prayer will occupy. Few of us have any empty rooms available.

Deciding to do that is the first thing. And you probably won’t decide to do it, only wish to do it, unless you see prayer for what it is: a matter of life or death, your lifeline to God, to life itself.

Is this exaggerated? Are there more important things? Love, for instance? We need love absolutely; but the love we need is agape, the love that only God has and is; so unless we go to God for it, we won’t get it. And going to God for it means prayer. So unless we pray, we will not love.”

I still struggle with prayer, and I know I won’t find a magic bullet. But Kreeft’s article has helped adjust my perspective a little bit.