The next few chapters will be about prayer, not because I set out to write some sort of theological treatise on prayer (I'm not nearly qualified!) but because I believe the Lord is building our prayer muscles during this time of self-isolation, global fear, and suffering. By "our" I don't mean just my husband and I, but the church as a whole. If God's people will not pray, who will? If we do not believe prayer to be effective enough, important enough, crucial enough--then do we truly believe in the God we say we do? If we saw prayer as more than just a blessing over food--if we saw it as a Christian soldier's active use of a sword and a shield in a furious spiritual battle--how would we pray?
These are the things that I have learned about prayer. I hope they help you as you also join the "prayer front" in this battle!
"Reading the Bible is spiritual food," Paul said to me once. "But prayer is emotional food. I can read my Bible often, but if I'm not praying, my spirit still feels starved."
In the last two years, the Lord has been re-teaching us how to pray. I say "re-teaching" because He's always teaching us to pray, and we always live out cycles of fervency followed by complacency. If there's one thing that is predictable, it is the distractable nature of our human hearts. But if God can count on our distraction, we can count even more on God's ability to draw His children back into proper alignment and relationship with Him. He is a very, very patient Father.
As a note, a resource that we have found especially helpful is A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller, one of the most practical, down-to-earth, gut-punchingly honest explorations of the subject that I have ever read. My husband Paul and I read it together, and I am now going through it as a weekly book study with the women in my church caregroup.
God has a way of stacking resources and spiritual nudges. Right now, I am also participating in weekly discussions of Leslie Ludy's Set Apart Marriage and Motherhood course materials, and this past week included a challenging discussion about the often-neglected power of prayer in a godly marriage. It seems that every sermon I listen to now--whether by one of my own pastors, by Tim Keller, by Eric Ludy (Leslie's husband), or some other pastor--includes some affirmation of the necessity of prayer. My daily Bible reading explodes with references to prayer and communion with the Lord. Just looking back on my old journals reveals prayers I had forgotten I prayed and answers that prove God's action on my behalf.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic came on the scene and there really wasn't much left to do BUT pray.
The pattern is now so loud in my life that I laugh a little every time I see yet another reference to prayer.
"I get it, Lord! You want me to pray."
So what have I learned as the Lord has grown my awareness of relationship through prayer?
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