It’s a goal within our reach.
That’s the argument Paul Miller makes in his book, A Praying Life.
Miller takes on the sorry state of prayer in the Church today: “Something is wrong with us. Our natural desire to pray comes from the Creation. We are made in the image of God. Our inability to pray comes from the Fall. Evil has marred the image.” Thus, it is evil and unwise not to give more effort to prayer than is currently in evidence.
A praying life grows out of our relationship with God the Father. If we focus on praying rather than on God and our love for Him, we’ll never learn to pray without ceasing. As we concentrate on knowing the Lord, and communing with Him at all times, prayer will flow naturally and joyfully out of that relationship.
But we need to establish the discipline of prayer by making prayer a priority in our spiritual lives. We should seek the Lord first thing in morning, Miller insists, and thus we will emulate the example of Jesus Himself. We must come to our Father like children – messy, disorganized, open and sincere, halting and stammering. Praying out loud can make our prayers more real and more honest, and will help us in learning to pray more consistently.
Don’t worry about being distracted as you pray, Miller says. Let the distractions – thoughts about the day ahead, worries about this or that, and other kinds of fleeting interruptions – lead you into specific prayers for these. Don’t let yourself become cynical about prayer, so that you give up on it as either too difficult or not worth the effort. “Prayer is bringing your helplessness to Jesus”, Miller says. And if we find ourselves helpless to improve our prayer lives, we should bring that to Jesus as well.
Even brief prayer chants or songs, used throughout the day, can help to keep our communion with the Lord intact and fruitful. Simply praying, “Help, Lord, help”, or “Have mercy on me, Jesus” as the Spirit leads can encourage us in prayer by helping to maintain the open line of prayer that can lead to fuller conversations with the Father throughout the day.
Pray for the people you see each day. Pray for your tasks and obligations. Pray when you feel anxious. Pray when you’re glad and rejoicing. Pray with others. Pray in the face of temptation and evil. Keep working at improving your base prayer life, and your ongoing prayer life will flourish as well. Pray without ceasing, and you’ll find that your base prayer life is richer, fuller, more satisfying, and more filled with praise and thanks to God.
I recommend A Praying Life for every pastor and every Christian man. God is seeking men to stand in the gap before Him, praying that He will stay His hand of judgment against His Church, and bring the renewing grace of revival and awakening. Miller’s book can help us become men in the gap for God and His people.