A Framework for Faith/Spiritual Disciplines
But after I had arrived in Ireland, I found myself pasturing flocks daily, and I prayed a number of times each day. More and more the love and fear of God came to me, and faith grew and my spirit was exercised, until I was praying up to a hundred times every day - and in the night nearly as often.
- Patrick, Confession (Irish, 5th century)
But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
- Psalm 55.16, 17
The Apostle Paul exhorts us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5.17). Surely that's a bit of apostolic hyperbole, no? Pray without ceasing? Most of us can hardly muster a few moments for prayer in the morning and, perhaps, before falling asleep at night. Without ceasing? Good luck.
But let's consider that Paul meant what he said, that somehow it is possible for us, if not to attain this ideal, at least to pursue it. That is, what if we could actually engage in prayer more consistently throughout the day, and be in such a state of readiness for prayer that we could lapse into it at any moment, as Jesus seems often to have done (cf. Matt. 11.25ff.)? Wouldn't that be something? Wouldn't we be more likely to know the presence of the Lord, and to be able to draw on His power, if we could maintain this disposition for prayer throughout all our waking moments?
Patrick prayed because he was smitten with guilt over the lackadaisical state of his faith and scared practically witless at having been kidnapped and made a slave in Ireland. But he prayed also because he seemed to know that only God could help him. He prayed a lot - without ceasing, practically. And God heard and answered his prayers.
Patrick says the more he prayed the more he grew to fear and love the Lord at the same time. The more he prayed the more he felt his faith growing and his spirit being exercised toward the things of God. The more he prayed the stronger became his sense of the Spirit of God "seething" within him.
Prayer is like that. It awakens us to the Lord, brings us into His presence, heightens our affections, exercises our souls, and gives shape to our lives. Even if we could begin to find a few minutes three times a day - evening and morning and at noon, perhaps - we would discover that more prayer would produce more spiritual vigor in us, because God hears us when we strive with Him in prayer.
Would you describe your faith as vigorous? Like Patrick's became, or Paul's was? Would you like it to be? Prayer is the training ground where vigorous faith grows as God hears our prayers and grants what we need in order to know and serve Him better.
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
What makes human beings special? All kinds of people are wondering - but I bet you already know. Just in case, however, you might check out today's ReVision.
With Moses, God expanded His people's sense of the Kingdom they were to become. This week's Kingdom Civics explains.
We now have a few openings for pastors interested in a mentoring opportunity. If your spiritual life needs some shoring up, you'd like to know how to lead your congregation in witness-bearing, or maybe improve your preaching skills, we're ready to help. Check out the mentoring opportunities with The Fellowship and drop me a line.
Download this month's free brochure and join us in trying to develop more serious Christian readers.
Have a great week. Don't forget to forward Crosfigell to your friends. Copy me in the address, and I'll drop them a line as well.