Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prayer - A Discipline After All

All of us have heard of pastors and preachers who have missed the mark or messed up. Thankfully most pastors accept God’s assignment with a seriousness which compels integrity, sacrifice, care for others and authenticity. I was one of the latter group and completed thirty four years as a pastor and six years as a denominational executive before retiring this past August. On so many occasions throughout all those years I was grateful for this call to this kind of responsible service. It required me to learn about God, to examine His Word, to understand spiritual truths, to employ them in my own life before endorsing them for others, and to practice prayer as a daily communication with the Creator God in whose world I was privileged to live.

God’s call to pastoral work was His gracious gift to keep me close to Himself. I was convinced about that as a young man, and more persuaded about it now. I understood that I needed power; I needed help in order to be an effective pastor to people, a spiritual leader and an example. It was routine and almost effortless for me to be a man of study and a man of prayer. Those consistent exercises kept me true to God’s values which resulted in being an effective husband and father and servant of others even as I led.

Today, away from the daily and weekly demands of a pastoral role, I understand clearly why we refer to prayer and Bible study as spiritual disciplines. Like countless millions of other people whose interests and daily work are unrelated to the spirit, I now recognize that I must prioritize prayer for myself, for my own purposes. I must see prayer as integral to my wellbeing and my function in my community of people.

1. Some people pray just to pray and some people pray to know God. --Andrew Murray
2. I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.—John Wesley
3. Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this – always obey such an impulse. --Martyn Lloyd-Jones
4. Of all the duties enjoined by Christianity none is more essential and yet more neglected than prayer. --François Fénelon
5. One can believe intellectually in the efficacy of prayer and never do any praying. --Catherine Marshall
6. Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan --John Bunyan
7. Those who know God the best are the richest and most powerful in prayer. Little acquaintance with God, and strangeness and coldness to Him, make prayer a rare and feeble thing. --E. M. Bounds
8. The Church has not yet touched the fringe of the possibilities of intercessory prayer. Her largest victories will be witnessed when individual Christians everywhere come to recognize their priesthood unto God and day by day give themselves unto prayer. --John R. Mott
9. Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons; but they are helpless against our prayers. --J. Sidlow Baxter
10. Prayer is not a discourse. It is a form of life, the life with God. That is why it is not confined to the moment of verbal statement. --Jacques Ellul

1 comment:

  1. Esther McIlveen

    A very astute and practical piece of writing. The quotes also enrich the topic immeasurably! I am wondering if it were cut back to 500, if Ed wouldn't take it for the North Shore News.

    Our world is cutting out significant words from the Dictionary and the catholics are very concerned about what is happening to England and mothers feel some of the words that will be lost will affect mostly children.

    Such a call to pray, depending on individuals and the churches is so necessary!