Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daily Prayer

Last week I shared a story in my blog about how I received a nudge in my prayer time to start reading John Calvin's Institutes again. At the end of that posting I shared that I would keep folks posted on how it was going.

I’ve stayed current for two weeks; I take about ten minutes when I first come to the office to download the reading of the day and to plow through it. The web site is here:

In today’s reading Calvin posed a question that grabbed me, “Is prayer at times dependent upon our passing mood?”

There are few subjects that generate my interest more than prayer. I enjoy talking about prayer, writing about it, preaching about it, and teaching about it.

Calvin’s question is just as relevant in the 21st century as it is in the 16th century. If you are reading this blog, take a moment and reflect on the question, “is prayer at times dependent upon our passing mood?”

Since none of us are God the answer for all of us has to be, “yes.”

Calvin’s question leads to a deeper one that I’d briefly like to explore, “Is the practice of our faith dependant on our feelings?”

I still believe that one of the best ways to grow in our faith is to have a daily time of prayer—a minimum of 10 minutes a day, every day. I started this practice in seminary. While I was attending a seminar on prayer at a Youth Ministry conference, I suddenly looked at the person with whom I was attending the seminar and out-of-the-blue said, “I’m willing to pray for 10 minutes a day if you are. Can we challenge each other to do this for 30 days?”

Both of us took the challenge, and my daily prayer life hasn’t stopped.

I’m not at all trying to be prideful about my prayer life; I have a long ways to go. My intention is to encourage everyone to get beyond our feelings and develop the routine of a daily prayer life.

I know of many of the objections to a daily prayer life—I know them because I’ve encountered them! The key for me is to pray at the same time every day—to develop the routine of prayer. My morning routine is the same—get up early, take a shower, make coffee, then read the Bible and pray. Just as I can’t imagine going to work without taking a shower, I can’t imagine going to work without spending time in prayer.

I certainly experience times when I don’t want to pray—when my passing mood would lead me to skip it. The routine helps me overcome my feelings.

My prayer life looks vastly different than it did five years ago—it has changed because over time my prayers become stale. Keeping fresh is one of the challenges of a long-term prayer life.

I give thanks that I still experience refreshment from prayer. Just this morning I was sharing a concern with God—one that woke me up in the middle of last night. As I was praying over it I received the impression not to worry about it—that things would work out. I took that as a word from the Lord. I was in a better place after I prayed than before it.

If you don’t have a regular prayer life, try it for two weeks. Find a time in your day to pray and read Scriptures for ten minutes. The benefits are worth it!

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