Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Praying Like We Mean It

Is your prayer life as rusty as this sign?

What do we believe about prayer? I'm not asking what we abstractly affirm about the doctrine of prayer but what we really deep down believe. If we don't pray often then we must not believe in it deeply.

Wesley gives us direction for prayer in his work, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection:

"God hardly gives his Spirit even to those whom he has established in grace, if they do not pray for it on all occasions, not only once, but many times.

"God does nothing but in answer to prayer; and even they who have been converted to God without praying for it themselves, (which is exceeding rare,) were not without the prayers of others. Every new victory which a soul gains is the effect of a new prayer.

"On every occasion of uneasiness, we should retire to prayer, that we may give place to the grace and light of God and then form our resolutions, without being in any pain about what success they may have.

"In the greatest temptations, a single look to Christ, and the barely pronouncing his name, suffices to overcome the wicked one, so it be done with confidence and calmness of spirit.

"God's command to 'pray without ceasing' is founded on the necessity we have of his grace to preserve the life of God in the soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it, than the body can without air."

While I disagree with Wesley's absolute proposition, "God does nothing but in answer to prayer," I do believe we should meditate on his words. Imagine a scenario in which we received nothing other than what we prayed for (or others prayed to God for us).

How would this increase our prayer lives?
How would this increase our church corporate prayer?